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London Welsh v Bath: Matt Banahan returns at outside centre for Bath

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: November 03, 2012

Matt Banahan returns for Bath

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Matt Banahan returns to the Bath team to face London Welsh tomorrow.

Injuries in the back row force club captain Stuart Hooper to pack down on the blindside flank.

And Anthony Perenise replaces Davey Wilson, who is away on England duty, for the game at the Kassam Stadium.

Banahan comes in at outside centre, partnering Ben Williams in the midfield. Tom Biggs and Kyle Eastmond continue on the wings.

Injuries to Carl Fearns and Francois Louw have forced head coach Gary Gold to reshuffle his pack.

Will Skuse will make his first Aviva Premiership start on the openside alongside Hooper with Ben Skirving continuing at No 8.

Bath beat Welsh 40-31 in pre-season back in August but Gold said: “I don’t think you can really read much into the pre-season result, this will be a very different game.

“They’re a good group of players, are well coached and have a great attitude to work hard for each other – I’ve been impressed by what they’ve done this season. They are very feisty, with a big, strong pack.

“This Sunday is going to be another tough encounter for us, especially with their ability to dig in for the win at home, and we know that we have to achieve the same level of performance and attitude as we did last weekend to get a good result.

“We are going to go in there very respectful of what they are going to present to us.

“But we can’t focus on what the opposition do as there’s little we can do to control that.”

London Welsh head coach Lyn Jones has made seven changes for the visit of Bath.

Tom Arscott returns to the side from injury at full-back with former Bath and Gloucester man Tom Voyce moving to the wing.

There’s a change in the centres with Gavin Henson partnering Sonny Parker, while Gordon Ross takes over the No 10 jersey and Nick Runciman starts at scrum- half.

There are two changes in the forwards. Tom Bristow starts at loosehead in place of Franck Montanella and Lee Beach comes into the side at number eight for Alfie To’oala.

Welsh take to the field tomorrow with five former Bath players in their starting XV – Nick Scott, Voyce, Paulica Ion, Martin Purdy and captain Jonathan Mills – plus another on the bench in Billy Moss.

Prior to that friendly in August, the clubs had not met since the 1992/93 season, when Bath won 37-7 on home soil.

The history between the two sides goes back to 1897/98, although they have never before faced each other in the league. They did meet in the 1985 John Player Cup final at Twickenham, a game which Bath won.

Bath (away to London Welsh, tomorrow, 3pm): Nick Abendanon; Kyle Eastmond, Matt Banahan, Ben Williams, Tom Biggs; Stephen Donald, Michael Claassens; Paul James, Lee Mears, Anthony Perenise, Dominic Day, Dave Attwood, Stuart Hooper (capt), Will Skuse, Ben Skirving. Replacements: Brett Sharman, Charlie Beech, Kane Palma-Newport, Will Spencer, Guy Mercer, Mark McMillan, Sam Vesty, Horacio Agulla.

London Welsh: Tom Arscott, Nick Scott, Sonny Parker, Gavin Henson; Tom Voyce, Gordon Ross, Nick Runciman; Tom Bristow, Neil Briggs, Paulica Ion, Martin Purdy, Matt Corker, Jonathan Mills (capt), Michael Hills, Lee Beach. Replacements: Dan George, Billy Moss, Arthur Joly, Adam Brown, Mike Denbee, Tyson Keats, Seb Jewell, James Lewis.

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