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Bath aiming to end Welford Road hoodoo

Published 24/09/2016

England centre Jonathan Joseph will return to Aviva Premiership action for Bath against Leicester on Sunday
England centre Jonathan Joseph will return to Aviva Premiership action for Bath against Leicester on Sunday

Bath will look to end a barren 13-year sequence at Welford Road when they put their unbeaten Aviva Premiership record on the line against Leicester.

Sunday's clash sees Bath targeting a first Premiership victory on Tigers soil since they claimed a 13-12 success in 2003.

While Bath have so far collected 14 points from a possible 15 following league victories over Northampton, Newcastle and Worcester, Leicester's last two outings produced a home defeat against Wasps and a narrow away triumph at Newcastle.

Prop Marcos Ayerza and number eight Lachlan McCaffrey return to the Leicester line-up, while Telusa Veainu moves to full-back and Adam Thompstone gains a start on the wing.

Bath are boosted by the return of England centre Jonathan Joseph - he partners Matt Banahan in midfield - with flankers Matt Garvey and Tom Ellis also back in a team captained by England fly-half George Ford.

"It's great to have a few guys coming back from injury to start, and the team have prepared really well this week," Bath rugby director Todd Blackadder said.

"We know that Leicester are going to be a huge challenge, but we're excited by that and looking forward to the game."

Leicester, meanwhile, know that a considerable improvement will be required on their Kingston Park showing.

"It was very disappointing from our point of view," Tigers rugby director Richard Cockerill said.

"Credit to Newcastle, they could easily have won the game, and we were very lucky to be going home with the four points. We had lots of opportunities to manage the game and do things better, but we didn't.

"The effort the players are putting in to try and solve the issues they are putting themselves under is credit to them, so there is no lack of effort. We just need to be smarter."

Bath head coach Tabai Matson has no doubt, though, that the west country club will require their "A game" if they want to claim a fourth successive Premiership win this term.

"To go up there and get a victory you have to play your A-game and hope for a little bit of luck as well," Matson told www.bathchronicle.co.uk.

"The collision is always a big one when you play in these big matches. If you take a step backwards at Welford Road, it's going to be a very long day at the office.

"We have to at least match them there to even have a chance, so that's been a focus this week."

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