Bath Rugby head to France for Heineken Champions Cup action, taking on Stade Rochelais for the first time.
WHAT'S THE STORY?
Game: Stade Rochelais v Bath Rugby
Competition: Round 3 of the Heineken Champions Cup
Where: Stade Marcel Deflandre
When: Saturday 15 January, 17:30 GMT kick-off
Coverage: bathrugby.com Match Centre, BT Sport, BBC Radio Bristol
Following three cancellations, Bath Rugby will finally play Stade Rochelais for the first time in the club's history on Saturday.
Covid has played havoc in the attempt to stage the fixture, both in the 2020/21 campaign and now the 2021/22 tournament.
This instalment of the much-anticipated clash went down to the wire also with French travel restrictions from the UK only lifted late in the week.
The Blue, Black and Whites go into the match full of positivity following their first win of the campaign last weekend, something which fly-half Orlando Bailey described as a 'monkey off the back'.
La Rochelle currently lie in sixth position in the Top14 after seven wins from 14 fixtures (seven losses).
Whilst their attack may not be firing as efficiently as last season, they have one of the meanest French defences, conceding the second least amount of points behind Toulouse.
Last term, Ronan O’Gara’s side reached their first Heineken Champions Cup final as well as their maiden Top14 final. The French outfit lost both matches but proved an exciting force, downing the likes of Leinster in Europe.
In Round 1 this year, La Rochelle hosted Glasgow Warriors and ran out 20-13 winners. Ihaia West kicked two conversions and two penalties to add to his 64 points in the Top14 this campaign.
Jules Favre is La Rochelle's top try scorer in the Top 14 with seven scores to his nam
ONE TO WATCH – WILL SKELTON
An instrumental player in Saracens' successful European-winning campaign in 2019, Skelton's performances over the past few years earned him a recall to the Australia side in the autumn.
The 29-year-old man mountain has continued his bulldozing form since moving to La Rochelle and was key in their runs to the European and Top14 finals last season.
Last week against Glasgow Warriors, Skelton completed 80 minutes and gained 30 metres from six carries. The lock also made nine tackles and two turnovers.
A WORD FROM BOTH CAMPS
Stuart Hooper, Bath Rugby Director of Rugby
“La Rochelle are a dangerous team; they pose a genuine threat across the board. They want to play rugby and want to challenge opposition.”
Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Stade Rochelais Scrum-Half
“It was the first time in our history we made the Champions Cup final and the Top 14 final. It’s important to believe in our abilities of going one step further. The boys are heading in the right direction.”
Saturday 15 January 2011
Matt Banahan scored four tries as Bath beat Italian side Aironi at the Recreation Ground to record only their second Heineken Cup win of the season.
Banahan and fellow wing Tom Biggs scored two tries apiece before half-time, while skipper Luke Watson also crossed for the hosts.
A try from Josh Sole had given the visitors hope but two more from Banahan and another from Watson made sure.
Bath:Abendanon, Banahan, Barkley, Hape, Biggs, James, Claassens, Barnes, Dixon, Wilson, Hooper, Van der Glessen, Skirving, Moody, Watson. Replacements:Cuthbert for Abendanon (36), Vesty for James (46), Cook for Claassens (71), Bell for Barnes (55), Batty for Dixon (52), Jarvis for Wilson (61), Fernandez Lobbe for Van der Glessen (52), Ovens for Moody (59).
Aironi:Laharrague, Pavan, Penney, Pizarro, Pratichetti, Marshall, Canavosio, Perugini, Ferraro, Gamboa, Furno, Del Fava, Sole, Benatti, Krause.Replacements:Venditti for Pavan (57), Wilson for Canavosio (58), Aguero for Perugini (50), Ongaro for Ferraro (50), Bortolami for Furno (52), Favaro for Benatti (55).Not Used:A. De Marchi, Bocchino.