Matt Banahan returns for Bath Rugby tomorrow as they travel to Kingsholm to take on Gloucester Rugby in the West Country derby, kick-off 1.00pm. In his last two appearances at the Rec, Banahan has scored a remarkable seven tries, including a hat trick against Top 4 rivals Northampton Saints two weeks ago, and will be looking to continue this rich run of form at Kingsholm on Saturday. Joining Banahan on the wing is flyer Tom Biggs, who has been no stranger to the try line himself this season. Jack Cuthbert switches to full back, with Ben Williams joining Olly Barkley in the centre. South African duo Butch James and Michael Claassens continue their partnership at half back.
Up front, the front row trio of David Flatman, Lee Mears and Duncan Bell join up once again, with Stuart Hooper and Danny Grewcock completing the front five. Ben Skirving, Man of the Match against Exeter Chiefs last weekend, once again links up with Simon Taylor and captain Luke Watson at the back of the scrum.
Director of Rugby, Sir Ian McGeechan, knows what a tough test the in-form Gloucester will be, but believes Bath are more than up to the challenge. “Tomorrow is a big game, but that’s the pressure of the Premiership at the moment. We got a good win down at Exeter, and now we are coming up against another in-form side at Kingsholm. “Gloucester are a side who always play well at home. They have a good pack of forwards, some talented backs and they are well coached. We are going to have to be on top of our game to come away with a win, but we’ve gone away from home and done very well, especially since the New Year, so we know we are capable of getting the result we want. “We have shown with recent games that we can play whichever way the game evolves, so we are a tough side to beat now, which is what we want to be. “We have a great defensive base that we’ve been working on, and Brad Davis (Defence and Skills coach) should take a lot of credit for the way we have been playing when we don’t have the ball as it’s been key in getting us where we are at the moment. We’ve not given soft tries or points away, which is very important, and we have managed to win three away games with one score, so if we can do that again this weekend, it will put us in a very good position.”
Bath Rugby team to face Gloucester Rugby 15. Jack Cuthbert 14. Matt Banahan 13. Ben Williams 12. Olly Barkley 11. Tom Biggs 10. Butch James 9. Michael Claassens 1. David Flatman 2. Lee Mears 3. Duncan Bell 4. Stuart Hooper 5. Danny Grewcock 6. Ben Skirving 7. Luke Watson (c) 8. Simon Taylor
Replacements 16. Pieter Dixon 17. David Barnes 18. Kane Palma-Newport 19. Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe 20. Guy Mercer 21. Mark McMillan 22. Sam Vesty 23. Nick Scott