The two sides may have met in the Gallagher Premiership a fortnight ago, but Friday’s Challenge Cup quarter-final clash at the Rec will be the first European tie between Bath Rugby and London Irish.
The Blue, Black and Whites have a favourable record against fellow English teams in the tournament and have won 10 of the 11 matches, only losing out to Northampton Saints in the 2013/14 final.
Stuart Hooper’s men have a similarly impressive record at home against sides from all around Europe – 28 of the club’s 29 Challenge Cup games at the Rec have been wins including six head-to-heads with Premiership opponents.
In contrast, Irish have lost five of their previous six outings against Premiership teams but they are in fine form this season. They ended the Preliminary Stage on top with two wins from two, scoring the joint most tries (14) of any side.
Their expansive style has allowed for Ollie Hassell-Collins to benefit on the line break (6) and try (3) front and as a team, they have recorded. the most offloads (24). Albert Tuisue has made the most carries (31) in the competition to date with the back rower also ranking joint fifth for tackles (30).
Fly-half Paddy Jackson has six try assists to his name, four more than any other player in the Challenge Cup.
Last time out for Bath, Ben Spencer had a 100 per cent kicking record for the tee, converting all five tries in the Parma sunshine.
Joe Cokanasiga enjoyed his run out on the wing and contributed to 14 Zebre defenders being beaten while the forwards were particularly dominant, having joy at the set piece and in their ball-carrying.
The match will be Bath’s 61st in the Challenge Cup and win will move their tally to 50 in total.
Date: 9 April 2021
Kick-off: 20:00 BST
Competition: Challenge Cup quarter-finals
Where: The Recreation Ground
Referee: Frank Murphy (IRE)
Assistants: Andy Woodthorpe (ENG), Phil Watters (ENG)
TMO: Ben Whitehouse (WAL)
Citing Commissioner: Dana Teagarden (GER)
Media Coverage: BT Sport 2 & Ultimate
London irish CURRENT FORM
London Irish 41-35 Cardiff Blues | Challenge Cup
London Irish 36-33 Bath Rugby | Gallagher Premiership
Sale Sharks 41-13 London Irish | Gallagher Premiership
London Irish 20-17 Worcester Warriors | Gallagher Premiership
Leicester Tigers 33-32 London Irish | Gallagher Premiership
A REC CLassic
Matt Banahan ended his 12-year Bath career with a hat-trick to help the Blue, Black and Whites thrash London Irish to qualify for next season's European Champions Cup.
Tries from Taulupe Faletau, Cooper Vuna, James Wilson, Elliot Stooke and Banahan put Bath 35-0 up at the break.
Gloucester-bound Banahan then completed his treble by touching down either side of Wilson's second score.
Will Vaughan grabbed Bath's ninth try before Irish rallied late in defeat.
Two tries from then Irish lock Josh McNally and another from Ben Loader were mere consolations in a defeat that brought a miserable campaign for Irish to an end, with the Berkshire-based club finishing 14 points adrift of second-bottom Worcester.