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IMITATE THE TIGER: BATH v LEICESTER TIGERS
Bath must take a tigerish approach when the Premiership resumes at the Rec on Saturday. Visitors Leicester Tigers started the tournament poorly but have improved in recent matches. A dazzling backs display brought a bonus point win against Bristol in early January, hinting at more to come. Now events beyond the control of either club have changed the dynamics of the tie. So will Tigers’ resurgence continue? Or can Bath gain a home win and build Premiership momentum?
Blue, Black, White and Red. Ulster v Bath
Red and white plays Blue, Black and White at the Kingspan Stadium on Saturday. Bath’s European Champions cup hopes are squarely in the red already, while Ulster got their first touch of the blues, losing at Clermont last weekend. Both sides prospects are spelt out in black and white. Bath have only pride to play for but for Ulster this is no dead rubber. Currently the highest placed second team, they should reach the knockout rounds, but must win to make qualification certain.
TIME FOR TRIES? BATH v HARLEQUINS
The road to recovery can begin in unexpected places and Friday’s Harlequins match could be one for Bath. Not for a European recovery – the match is a dead rubber as neither side can qualify from the group- but hopefully the recovery of a try scoring habit. Only one other Premiership club has scored fewer tries than Bath this season, a failing needing urgent correction ahead of key Premiership clashes against Tigers, Warriors and Quins themselves. Friday’s match up is a chance to do just that.
SHOWDOWN ON SEVERN: GLOUCESTER v BATH
Bath face a showdown on the Severn in their Premiership tie against Gloucester at Kingsholm on Saturday. The Cherry and Whites, third in the table, are firm favourites with the bookies at 2/5, although fifth placed Bath have won one more match. It seems that Bath’s poor away record of recent seasons and sparse collection of bonus points has swayed the odds in the home team’s favour. With a passionate crowd spurring them on, Gloucester will feel confident of victory
SALE OR RETURN? BATH v SALE
It will be a case of “sale or return” in the festive encounter at the Rec on Saturday. Sale knocked Northampton off the Premierships top spot at the weekend, while Bath racked up 6 tries in walloping London Irish. Both wins have been described as their sides “most complete performance of the season”, so an exciting tussle is in prospect. Sale are fourth favourites to win the Premiership, so will they run out winners, or will Bath continue their return to winning ways?
BOYS FROM THE BLACK STUFF: LONDON IRISH v BATH
The black stuff will be flowing when Bath visit London Irish on resumption of the premiership this weekend. The pre poured Guinness will stand three rows deep on the bar ready for half time and the final whistle. Win, lose or draw the craic is always lively at Irish whose fans will be confident their early season form predicts a successful Premiership season. Bath, in contrast look out of sorts after five straight defeats. They will be desperate for their form, and luck, to turn.
CLEAR MOUNTAIN: CLERMONT AUVERGNE v BATH
Bath have a clear mountain to climb in France against Clermont on Sunday. It is too late to reach the summit of Pool 3, never mind the Champions Cup itself, but another massive challenge also awaits. Bath must build confidence, credibility and cohesion for significant Premiership contests ahead. Last Friday’s tie was close until half time, but Clermont’s power and precision took over in the second half. If they can claim a bonus point away, they surely pose a daunting prospect in front of their home support.
MASSIVE CHALLENGE: BATH v ASM CLERMONT AUVERGNE
Bath face a massive challenge hosting ASM Clermont Auvergne in the European Champions Cup on Friday evening. Having succumbed to Premiership Champions Saracens last week, Bath must beat last season’s Top 14 runners up and European Challenge Cup winners to remain in contention. The men from the Massif Centrale have been prominent in both European and domestic rugby for a decade and, replete with internationals, are packed with power, pace and pedigree. The result seems a foregone conclusion. Or is it?
BACKS TO THE WALL BATH v SARACENS
Both teams will have their backs to the wall when Bath host Saracens on Friday evening. The premiership and European Champions are in siege mode because of their salary cap breach and the ire it has drawn from other clubs. Bath because of recent results, the pallid manner of their latest defeat at Quins and a growing list of injured key players. Saracens, for all their woes, appear to be in rude health, Bath, still seeking consistency and cutting edge. So will home advantage be enough for Bath to prevail?
CITY SLICKERS: HARLEQUINS v BATH
Bath’s quest to revive their European ambitions begins away to “city slickers” Harlequins on Saturday. Both sides lost in the opening round, although Bath’s losing bonus point against Ulster gives them the slightest edge in Pool 3. Little separates the clubs over the past two seasons. Points difference placed Quins higher in the Premiership last season while Bath now lie 2 points above Quins in 9th. Both teams will hope to be boosted by World Cup returners, so who looks likely to triumph this weekend?