Bath to give youth a chance in LV= Cup against Harlequins
Bath are again taking the opportunity to play some of their younger players in tonight’s LV= Cup match against Harlequins at the Twickenham Stoop tonight
But one of the experienced men in Lee Mears will captain the side at hooker, with Charlie Beech and Anthony Perenise either side of him in the front row.
Dominic Day and Dave Attwood renew their second-row partnership, whilst Academy forwards Will Skuse and Guy Mercer get another opportunity in the back row with Carl Fearns and Ben Skirving being out for a few weeks after operations.
Former Scotland international Simon Taylor continues at the back of the scrum after his recent return from injury.
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Academy scrum-half Chris Cook forges a new half-back partnership with Stephen Donald as Tom Biggs and Kyle Eastmond come back onto the wings. Ben Williams starts at inside centre with Matt Banahan moving to the outside centre berth, as 19-year-old Ollie Devoto lines up at fullback.
Double try-scorer in the opening LV= Cup game against Newport Gwent Dragons, Semesa Rokoduguni, is named amongst the replacements, as is young fly-half Tom Heathcote who added 21 points from the boot in the 36-15 victory at the Recreation Ground.
Also on the bench is prop Alan Cotter, on loan from Munster, and Michael Claassens, who is in line to make his 150th appearance in the Bath jersey if he’s called upon.
Harlequins make four changes to the starting line-up that defeated Northampton Saints. Tom Williams is named at full-back, while Jordan Turner-Hall and George Lowe return from knee and ankle injuries respectively to partner in the centres.
In the forwards, one change is made in the front row as hooker Joe Gray starts. Open side flanker Luke Wallace retains the captaincy.
Tom Casson is named among the replacements after recovering from a head injury suffered during the 28-25 win over Gloucester.
Like Bath, Quins won their opening LV= Cup pool match, a late try by promising young playmaker Ben Botica giving them a 31-30 win at Northampton.
Bath expect the reigning Premiership champions to try and play with their trademark panache tonight, and will set about restricting their options with ball in hand.
“The key to stop them attacking is for us to keep the ball,” said Bath forwards coach Neal Hatley.
“Quins are an attacking side and they make lots of quick lineouts and offloads.
“We have looked hard at that and we know what’s coming.
“Our training was tough on Monday – we were disappointed with one or two areas of our game against Dragons, including our execution at the set-piece,” added Hatley. “We set ourselves high standards.”
Bath, away to Harlequins, tonight, 7.45pm: Ollie Devoto; Kyle Eastmond, Matt Banahan, Ben Williams, Tom Biggs; Stephen Donald, Chris Cook; Charlie Beech, Lee Mears (capt.), Anthony Perenise, Dominic Day, Dave Attwood, Will Skuse, Guy Mercer, Simon Taylor. Replacements: Brett Sharman, Alan Cotter, Kane Palma-Newport, Ryan Caldwell, Josh Ovens, Michael Claassens, Tom Heathcote, Semesa Rokoduguni.
Harlequins: Tom Williams; Seb Stegmann, George Lowe, Jordan Turner-Hall, Sam Smith; Ben Botica, Karl Dickson; Mark Lambert, Joe Gray, Will Collier, Pete Browne, Charlie Matthews, Joe Trayfoot, Luke Wallace (capt.), Tom Guest. Replacements: Rob Buchanan, Darryl Marfo, Kyle Sinckler, Sam Twomey, Jack Clifford, Ollie Lindsay-Hague, Louis Grimoldby, Tom Casson.