Bath Rugby break from Gallagher Premiership action with a trip to Leinster Rugby in their Heineken Champions Cup opener.
What's the story?
Game: Leinster v Bath Rugby
Competition: Round 1 of the Heineken Champions Cup
Where: Aviva Stadium
When: Saturday 11 December, 15:15 kick-off
Coverage: bathrugby.com Match Centre, BT Sport, BBC Radio Bristol
A break from the domestic calendar sees Bath Rugby head to Dublin for their Round 1 opener in the Heineken Champions Cup.
The Blue, Black and Whites face a Leinster Rugby side who have great pedigree in the competition, having won it on four occasions and finishing runners-up once.
It will be Bath’s 106th outing in the European Cup and they will be searching for their 55th win – their 22nd away from the Rec.
Leinster do have the better of the head-to-head record with Bath’s last win over the Irish province coming back in 2015.
Leinster will be boosted by the availability of four players following injury.
Jamison Gibson-Park, Max Deegan, Dan Leavy and Rory O’Loughlin have been cleared from injury following a return to training, but Cian Healy, James Ryan, Johnny Sexton and Jack Conan need further assessment before being passed fit to play on Saturday.
Head coach Leo Cullen will be without Will Connors, Conor O’Brien, Dave Kearney and Michael Milne.
Thirteen of the Ireland 23 that defeated New Zealand in the Autumn Internationals play for Leinster.
ONE TO WATCH – JAMES LOWE
James Lowe was on the scoresheet against the country of his birth in November and continues to excel at club and international level.
He has a try-scoring rate of one in two in the Heineken Champions Cup with nine tries scored in 18 matches.
In total, Lowe has 34 tries in 56 Leinster appearances making him one of the most prolific finishers in the game.
A WORD FROM BOTH CAMPS
Stuart Hooper, Bath Rugby Director of Rugby
“It’s definitely an exciting opportunity. This is a group of young men who are experiencing tough things at the moment, but they are still ambitious and still excited to go and play in one of the best arenas against one of the best teams.”
Stuart Lancaster, Leinster Rugby Senior Coach
“I know more than enough people from Bath, both the playing squad and the coaching staff very well, and I know how much they’ll be hurting and working behind the scenes to improve things.”
Sunday 22 November 2015
Pens: Ford (3)
Drop Goal: Ford
Tries: van der Flier
Pens: Sexton (3)
George Ford kicked a 76th-minute penalty to clinch a 19-16 victory for Bath over Leinster at the Recreation Ground.
With the scores locked at 16-16 after Leinster debutant Josh van der Flier’s 69th-minute try, fly-half Ford stepped up to slot a difficult penalty from 40 metres out on the right-hand touchline after Leinster were penalised at a scrum.
In a tightly-fought match, it was no more than Bath deserved, but they will be frustrated by their failure to put their opponents away earlier.
Bath: Watson, Rokoduguni, Devoto, Eastmond, Banahan, Ford Cook; Auterac, Webber, Thomas, Day, Attwoof, Garvey, Louw, Houston. Replacements: Batty, Catt, Lahiff, Hooper, Fa’osiliva, Matawalu, Priestland, Homer.
Leinster: Nacewa, McFadden, Te’o, Fitzgerald, Kearney, Sexton, Boss; Healy, Cronin, Ross, Toner, Triggs, Ruddock, Murphy, Heaslip. Replacements: Tracy, McGrath, Moore, Ryan, van der Flier, McGrath, Madigan, Kirchner.