Date: Saturday 22nd October
Kick off: 14:30
Venue: Welford Road
The Tigers put in their most impressive performance so far this season in the second half against the Scarlets last weekend. Ben Youngs was simply sensational at scrum-half, but Leicester’s power stood out especially, with Croft and Waldrom leading the way in the back row. Richard Cockerill will hope that the way they played after half time will prove to be the springboard for a successful run of Premiership matches, and see the Tigers move up the table from their current position of sixth.
After the disappointment of losing at home to Biarritz in Round One of the Heineken Cup, Bath bounced back away in Italy against Aironi, picking up a try bonus point in their 6-22 win. Nick Abendanon gave a sparkling performance at 15, and will need to be at his best to unlock what was a tight Leicester defence against the Scarlets.
What to expect:
With other clubs now making up the top four, Bath’s glory days may seem long in the past. But that does not take away the edge that comes with any game between two of England’s greatest rugby sides. The question nowadays is whether Bath have enough quality to compete against a Leicester side that can’t stop winning the Premiership. They will have to play at their absolute best in order to match them. That being said, the history of this fixture will make it a dogged battle, with a huge amount of pride at stake.
All eyes on:
A former prodigal son returns to Welford Road as Sam Vesty comes back to Leicester. Having made over 100 appearances for the Tigers, playing against Leicester will be a strange experience for not only Vesty himself but also for the home crowd. Having been left out of the Ireland squad for the Autumn internationals, Geordan Murphy will look to prove Declan Kidney wrong by putting in a big performance. Matches like these provide the sort of stage on which Murphy thrives, and his combinations with Alex Tuilagi last weekend will have given Steve Meehan and his coaching staff plenty to ponder this week.
Head to head: Thomas Waldrom and Luke Watson
The battle of two top class number eights will be something to savour on Saturday afternoon. Waldrom had his best game for his new club last week as he rampaged around the park, living up to his pet name of “The Tank”. Watson has blossomed in his role as captain at Bath, and his class is without a doubt. For both players, these games are the reason they moved to their respective clubs, and the earth may well move if the two giants collide.
Last year’s result: 3 April 2010- Leicester 43-20 Bath.
Weather forecast: A monsoon is apparently forecast for Saturday afternoon, so expect a gruelling trench-like battle from the two packs.
SportGuru prediction statistics: Leicester 88.48%, Bath 10.06%, Draw 1.46%
Prediction: If Leicester play as they did at the end of last week’s game, especially given that the forecast is set to be heavily wet, then their power should prove the deciding factor. Tigers by 10.
By Ben Coles (@bennycoles)
To hear the thoughts of Matt Banahan and Mike Tremlett, have a listen to this week’s rugby podcast.