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Fourth Time Lucky? Bath v Toulon
Bath will be hoping for better luck in their fourth meeting with Toulon in three seasons this weekend. Toulon have prevailed by a single score margin in each of those previous Champions Cup encounters and Bath can argue that they were ill served by fortune in Toulon last week. Despite home advantage and the heroics of that close defeat, they will need more than luck to get their revenge on Saturday evening.
Siege Mentality: Toulon v Bath
Having delivered too little, too late at Exeter, Bath must now avoid playing too loose against Toulon. With enviable quality strength in depth and a refined counter attack game, Fabien Galthie’s side seem likely to punish any sloppiness as sternly as Chiefs did. Toulon lie a modest 7th in the Top 14, but it would be foolish to write off their cup pedigree. They will expect to snatch the leadership of Pool 5 from Bath and drive for the knockout stage in the New Year rounds
Challenge of the Chiefs: Exeter v Bath
Bath face their toughest challenge of the season yet against Exeter Chiefs on Saturday. Chiefs, now leading the table by a clear 5 points have hit form in time for a demanding run of European and Christmas domestic fixtures. Bath, facing a tough December themselves, enjoyed their best 20 minute spell of this campaign against Quins before fading. They will need to play the full 80, at greater tempo and intensity, to get any change from the Chiefs.
Autumn Colours: Bath v Quins
Multi coloured Quins visit the Rec this week depleted by the chill winds of Autumn Internationals. Their November results have been chequered in the past few seasons, deprived of their key decision makers and most colourful characters. Bath, having already lost twice at home this season and having scraped a pallid victory at strugglers London Irish could also be missing 6 star players. Despite these absences, Saturday’s game promises to be a close encounter. But will it bring colour to the grey weather?
A Touch of The Blarney? London Irish v Bath
Both teams may need a touch of the blarney when their Premiership campaigns resume on Sunday. London Irish, in 11th place and two games adrift of the league’s main body will want to talk themselves out of trouble. Bath, with a habit this season of losing to teams they are expected to beat, will be seeking some flair to enhance the grit of their last two victories. This is the Autumn International period and the hosts, less disrupted by call-ups will hope to spring a surprise. Bath must be both bold and wary.
Burning Bright: Bath v Leicester
Tyger, Tyger burning bright! Leicester Tigers are certainly burning brightly so far this season. After shock defeats to bitter rivals in the opening two games they have recovered to win 8 from the next 10. They are burning not with the incandescence of Cockerill or the slow burn of Mauger, but under O’Connor enjoying the warm glow of success. Friday evening’s visit to the Rec will challenge that warm feeling. Whatever the competition, a Bath: Leicester showdown is one both teams are eager to win.
All Change: London Irish v Bath
It will be all change for Bath when they play London Irish at the Madjeski on Saturday. The fixture brings a change of competition, wholesale change in the team sheet and hopefully a change of fortune after the frustration of the Gloucester derby. The Irish lie adrift at the foot of the Premiership table, seemingly already relegation candidates with Worcester. Premiership form is not always a reliable guide for this tournament though and Bath must beware the complacency which has twice undone them already this season.
Cherry Stones: Bath v Gloucester
“Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor, Rich Man, Poor Man, Ploughboy, Thief. “ The daydream list of possible occupations in AA Milne’s poem “Cherry Stones” seems to mirror Gloucester Rugby’s search for an identity in recent years. The club that twice topped the Premiership Table a decade ago have since struggled to replicate that form and to settle on a distinctive playing style. Their performances have been inconsistent this season so far, so what can we expect from them on Sunday?
United Colours of Rugby: Bath v Benetton
Fans can expect a touch of colour when Benetton Treviso visit the Rec late on Saturday afternoon. Bath’s ECC Pool 5 opponents have been owned and sponsored by Benetton since the start of the professional era in1997. Italian clubs have traditionally struggled in this competition, which has been dominated by sides from France, England and Ireland. They are often dismissed as only there to provide a touch of diversity and colour. It would be unwise though to take anything for granted against this proud club
Warriors on the Warpath?
Worcester Warriors will be on the warpath when they visit Bath this Saturday. Played five, lost five in the Premiership, with only a single league point they look likely relegation fodder already. To add to their problems the club is short of finance and up for sale and their DOR has just announced he is to leave to be Head Coach of the USA Eagles. Desperate, defiant attack is often the response to multiple woes and that should be the Warriors mind-set this weekend, but what form will that attack take?