Bath Rugby head back home for their first Heineken Champions Cup match at the Rec this season against Stade Rochelais.
WHAT'S THE STORY?
Game: Bath Rugby v Stade Rochelais
Competition: Round 2 of the Heineken Champions Cup
Where: The Recreation Ground
When: Saturday 18 December, 13:00 kick-off
Coverage: bathrugby.com Match Centre, BT Sport, BBC Radio Bristol
Saturday marks the long-awaited first meeting between Bath Rugby and Stade Rochelais.
The two sides were drawn against each other last season but didn’t get to go head-to-head due to Covid.
A new format to the competition has presented a fresh opportunity for the two teams to face off, with the first of two games beginning at the Rec.
It is the first of three home matches for Bath at the end of the calendar year and a chance for supporters to come together for one last time ahead of Christmas Day.
While last weekend’s result went the way of Leinster, what has been appreciated is the energy of the younger players in the squad during the second half at the Aviva with many likely to be involved when La Rochelle come to town.
La Rochelle currently lie in fifth position in the Top14 after six wins from their opening 12 fixtures (six 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.
The fly-half has three tries to his name in total in 2021/22, equalling the total of Eneriko Buliruarua – one behind scrum-half Tawera Kerr-Barlow.
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
“The energy of some of young guys who came on against Leinster was outstanding and similarly so was the leadership of some of our experienced guys. We need all of that again at home against La Rochelle.”
Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Stade Rochelais Scrum-Half
“It was the first time in our history we made the Champions Cup final and the Top14 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.
Supporters can still buy tickets for this weekend's match which kicks-off at 13:00.