Bath v Northampton: Teams
At The Recreation Ground, Saturday December 27, kick-off 2.15pm
Last Updated: 26/12/08 3:14pm
Meehan: Looking for a controlled performance
Bath host travel-sick Northampton on Saturday knowing a win could see them finish the year on top of the Guinness Premiership.
Steve Meehan's side find themselves sitting pretty in second and a loss for current leaders London Irish, who are away to Saracens this weekend, could see them go even higher.
They will hope not to leave it quite so late to secure another home victory at The Rec after needing an injury-time try to see off Sale last time out.
"The win against Sale has given us more focus," admitted Meehan. "We were not up to our best and we didn't find simple solutions to get out of our own half.
"We had looked at that throughout the course of the week leading to Sale, and we spoke again about it at half time and still never actually delivered on it.
"What we want in these next few matches to come is for people to see a much more controlled performance from us."
Bath are once again without lock Danny Grewock, who continues to have problems with a longstanding foot injury.
Former rugby league star Shontayne Hape comes in at centre for Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu while Jack Cuthbert starts at full-back in the absence of Nick Abendanon.
While home form has not been a problem for Northampton, getting a win on their travels has proved tough on their return to the top flight.
They haven't managed an away success in the Premiership since defeating midlands rivals Leicester nearly two years ago.
Director of rugby Jim Mallinder feels his players are still learning, particularly when it comes to playing away from their Franklin's Gardens home.
"We are on a good run, but we haven't been getting the results in the Premiership, so we need to keep the momentum and get something at Bah.
"We are still learning lessons in the Premiership all the time. We are playing some good rugby at home, but we need to be smarter on the road."
Juandre Kruger comes into the second row in the only change from the Saints team that beat high-flying Harlequins last weekend.
Bath: 15 Jack Cuthbert, 14 Joe Maddock, 13 Alex Crockett, 12 Shontayne Hape, 11 Matt Banahan, 10 Butch James, 9 Michael Claassens; 1 David Flatman, 2 Lee Mears, 3 Matt Stevens, 4 Stuart Hooper, 5 Peter Short, 6 Andy Beattie, 7 Michael Lipman (capt), 8 Jonny Faamatuainu
Replacements: 16 Pieter Dixon, 17 Duncan Bell, 18 Justin Harrison, 19 Daniel Browne, 20 Scott Bemand, 21 Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu, 22 Andrew Higgins
Northampton: 15 Bruce Reihana (capt), 14 Paul Diggin, 13 Jon Clarke, 12 James Downey, 11 Sean Lamont, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Lee Dickson; 1 Soane Tonga'uiha, 2 Dylan Hartley, 3 Euan Murray, 4 Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe, 5 Juandre Kruger, 6 Mark Easter, 7 Scott Gray, 8 Roger Wilson
Replacements: 16 Paul Shields, 17 Tom Smith, 18 Christian Day, 19 Mark Hopley, 20 Ben Foden, 21 Carlos Spencer, 22 Chris Mayor
Fri 24th Apr
Bath43 - 18London Irish
Sat 25th Apr
Sale Sharks0 - 0Harlequins
Gloucester0 - 0Newcastle Falcons
Leicester Tigers0 - 0London Welsh
Northampton0 - 0Saracens
Sun 26th Apr
Wasps0 - 0Exeter
Fri 8th May
Harlequins0 - 0Bath
Sat 9th May
Sale Sharks0 - 0Newcastle Falcons
Gloucester0 - 0London Irish
Northampton0 - 0London Welsh
Wasps0 - 0Leicester Tigers
Sun 10th May
Saracens0 - 0Exeter
Sat 16th May
Bath0 - 0Gloucester
Exeter0 - 0Sale Sharks
Leicester Tigers0 - 0Northampton
London Irish0 - 0Wasps
London Welsh0 - 0Saracens
Newcastle Falcons0 - 0Harlequins