Carl Fearns returns to Bath Rugby line-up for LV= Cup clash at Gloucester
Big-hitting Carl Fearns is back in Bath Rugby’s starting line-up for Saturday’s final LV= Cup pool match against West Country rivals Gloucester at Kingsholm (2pm).
Fearns will be joined in the back row by Ben Skirving and Francois Louw, while Dominic Day and Dave Attwood form a heavy, powerful partnership in the engine room.
The front row sees England international Rob Webber start his second consecutive match after returning from long-term injury. He was excellent on his Bath debut last week and will look to improve on that tomorrow with Charlie Beech and Anthony Perenise by his side at loosehead and tighthead prop respectively.
After making a dream, two-try debut against Exeter last weekend, Ireland legend Peter Stringer is selected to partner All Black Stephen Donald in the half-backs, while Sam Vesty and Matt Banahan form a midfield replete with experience and brute force.
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Olly Woodburn starts on the left wing, with Argentinian international Horacio Agulla on the right and Nick Abendanon at full-back.
Bath can qualify for the last four if they better Northampton Saints’ result at Exeter Chiefs, while Gloucester have only pride – and local bragging rights - to play for.
Tight head prop Rupert Harden will make his first appearance for more than a month for the hosts, who have named a much-changed line –up.
Only half a dozen players have been retained – Ryan Mills, Shane Monahan, Tim Molenaar, Lua Lokotui, Peter Buxton and Andy Hazell – from the team beaten by Northampton last weekend.
The Cherries are skippered by ex-Bath man Mike Tindall and have former Beechen Cliff schoolboy and Oldfield player Billy Burns on the bench.
Forwards coach Carl Hogg said: “They’re very special fixtures, Gloucester versus Bath, whether it’s at Kingsholm or the Rec. There’s a traditional local rivalry, a unique occasion, and we’re looking forward to it.”
GLOUCESTER: 15 Rob Cook, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Mike Tindall (capt), 12 Tim Molenaar, 11 Shane Monahan, 10 Ryan Mills,9 Jimmy Cowan, 1 Dan Murphy, 2 Huia Edmonds, 3 Rupert Harden, 4 Tom Savage, 5 Lua Lokotui, 6 Peter Buxton, 7 Andy Hazell, 8 Sione Kalamafoni
Replacements: 16 Darren Dawidiuk,17 Yann Thomas, 18 Tom Heard, 19 Akapusi Qera, 20 Gareth Evans, 21 Dan Robson, 22 Billy Burns, 23 Martyn Thomas.
BATH RUGBY: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 Horacio Agulla, 13 Matt Banahan, 12 Sam Vesty, 11 Olly Woodburn, 10 Stephen Donald, 9 Peter Stringer, 1 Charlie Beech, 2 Rob Webber, 3 Anthony Perenise, 4 Dave Attwood, 5 Dominic Day, 6 Francois Louw, 7 Carl Fearns, 8 Ben Skirving.
Replacements: 16 Ross Batty, 17 Nathan Catt, 18 Kane Palma-Newport, 19 Will Spencer, 20 Mat Gilbert, 21 Chris Cook, 22 Semesa Rokoduguni, 23 Jack Cuthbert.