stuart hooper bathFresh from victory over Northampton Saints last weekend, Bath Rugby travel to Sandy Park tomorrow for their first Premiership meeting against Exeter Chiefs, kick-off 8pm.

Exeter born lock, Stuart Hooper, knows what a challenge the Premiership new boys will be for the visitors, and hopes that the momentum built up during the second half of the season, which has seen Bath win four Premiership games on the bounce, will help secure their fifth victory in a row in the West Country derby.

“The second half of the season has been going well, and since the New Year we have ground out some tough wins which has built up our winning momentum and helped get the season back on track for us. Our game last weekend against Northampton was great, the Rec was bouncing and everyone seemed to enjoy watching it as much as we did playing it.

“Having said that I think that without a doubt the best is still to come from us. The victory over Saints was, I think, definitely Bath’s most attractive win this season, compared to some of the uglier wins we have had to grind out such as Leeds, Newcastle in the LV= Cup, and Sale, and it’s shown people what we are capable of when we play to our potential.

“Exeter away will be good, everyone is pumped and eager to go down to Sandy Park and put on a performance. It is obviously going to be an historic occasion with Bath playing Exeter in the Premiership for the first time ever so it is going to be massive. They have a very strong kicking-fly half, so discipline will be key for us, and they are a team that work very hard for each other. We’ve seen them run good teams very close already this season, which they’ve done by playing to their strengths, so we know we are going to have to be on top of our game to come away with the victory.

“When you have done badly at the start of the season it stops you taking it for granted that you are at the top and forces you to continually chip away at the top spot and climb steadily upwards. The Premiership is a tricky place, competitive where you have to deal with injuries and international call ups and what not, but it is about the 15 men on the pitch on the weekend and playing the best rugby you can as a team, and hopefully we can continue doing that this weekend.”

Bath Rugby team to face Exeter Chiefs

15. Nick Abendanon

14. Jack Cuthbert

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


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