Bath travel to Watford’s Vicarage Road on Sunday aiming for a much-needed win to keep their hopes of making the Aviva Premiership play-offs alive. After a heavy defeat to table-toppers Leicester last week at The Rec, they will also be looking to re-build their confidence by overcoming Saracens, who are currently sitting in second place just behind the Tigers.
Defence and skills coach Brad Davis has had time to reflect on last weekend’s defeat, and says only a victory on Sunday will be acceptable.
“We played some great bits of rugby last weekend, especially in the first 40 minutes – we made numerous line-breaks and with better finishing we could’ve been two or three tries to the good,” says Davis. “It’s taught us a lesson in taking opportunities.
“We have a chance to put things right on Sunday and it’s turning into a must win game for us as we look to push into the top four. We have a couple of games in hand but they will only count if we win them. When the rearranged fixtures come, we have to take those opportunities.
“At the same time we are under no illusions that the most important game in our season is coming up on Sunday. We know what Saracens provide – a stern physical test, and a strong set piece. They don’t give too much away so we are going to have to be at our best to make sure we stay on top of them and come away with the points.”
Meanwhile the hosts are without scrum-half Neil de Kock and back-rower Justin Melck, who make way for Richard Wigglesworth and Kelly Brown. Jacques Burger also makes his return from a knee injury on the bench, and Kevin Barrett and Mouritz Botha are both included in the 23.
Nick Abendanon; Matt Banahan, Ben Williams, Shontayne Hape, Matt Carraro; Butch James, Michael Claassens; David Flatman, Lee Mears, Duncan Bell, Stuart Hooper, Peter Short, Ben Skirving, Luke Watson (capt), Simon Taylor.
Pieter Dixon, Nathan Catt, David Wilson, Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe, Guy Mercer, Mark McMillan, Sam Vesty, Jack Cuthbert
Alex Goode; David Strettle, Chris Wyles, Brad Barritt, James Short; Owen Farrell, Richard Wigglesworth; Matt Stevens, Schalk Brits, Carlos Nieto, Steve Borthwick (capt), Hayden Smith, Kelly Brown, Andy Saull, Ernst Joubert.
Jamie George, Rhys Gill, Petrus du Plessis, Mouritz Botha, Jacques Burger, Kevin Barrett, Adam Powell, Noah Cato.