LV= Cup semi-final: Bath v Exeter preview
Last Updated: 07/03/14 8:15pm
Guy Mercer: Bath flanker handed semi-final chance
Guy Mercer will make his first start for Bath since October on Sunday when they welcome Exeter in the LV= Cup semi-final.
Mercer is joined in the back row by the returning Matt Garvey on the blindside and Leroy Houston at No 8.
Ryan Caldwell joins captain Stuart Hooper in the engine room, with Eusebio Guinazu flanked at hooker by Nathan Catt and Argentina team-mate Juan Pablo Orlandi.
In the half-backs, Martin Roberts and Tom Heathcote resume their partnership, with Horacio Agulla and Semesa Rokoduguni named out wide on the wings.
Ollie Devoto, nominated for this year's LV= breakthrough player award, combines with Gavin Henson in the midfield, whilst Nick Abendanon completes the line-up from full-back.
Meanwhile, Exeter boss Rob Baxter insists getting the "nuts and bolts right" will be the key to victory.
Unlike previous rounds where Baxter used the LV= Cup to give game time to fringe squad members, this weekend it will be a near full-strength Chiefs line-up that takes to the field at The Rec.
Although missing Jack Nowell and Tom Johnson to England duty, the remainder of the Exeter team looks impressive.
Johnson's absence means Dave Ewers switches from No 8 to blindside; Kai Horstmann anchors the scrum; whilst there is a first start since January for Chris Whitehead, who takes over at hooker from Luke Cowan-Dickie.
The back division remains untouched from last time out, but on the bench there are recalls for James Hanks and former Bath favourite James Scaysbrook.
"We'll be going full-on, for obvious reasons - it's the first time we've been in the semi-finals, the final's at Sandy Park and we want to keep some momentum from the win against London Irish," said Baxter.
"We've performed well at Bath in the last couple of years - we've scored tries and scored plenty of points, the key for us again is making sure we get our game-management right and defensively we're very sound. That will make us a difficult team to beat because we do score points."
Bath: 15 Abendanon, 14 Rokoduguni, 13 Devoto, 12 Henson, 11 Agulla, 10 Heathcote, 9 Roberts; 1 Catt, 2 Guinazu, 3 Orlandi, 4 Hooper (capt), 5 Caldwell, 6 Garvey, 7 Mercer, 8 Houston
Replacements: 16 Batty, 17 Perenise, 18 Palma-Newport, 19 Gilbert, 20 Louw, 21 Stringer, 22 Williams, 23 Banahan
Exeter: 15 Arscott, 14 Jess, 13 Whitten, 12 Dollman, 11 James, 10 Slade, 9 Lewis; 1 Moon, 2 Whitehead, 3 Tui, 4 Mumm (capt), 5 Welch, 6 Ewers, 7 White, 8 Horstmann
Replacements: 16 Cowan-Dickie, 17 Rimmer, 18 Brown, 19 Hanks, 20 Scaysbrook, 21 Thomas, 22 Steenson, 23 Vainikolo
LV= Cup 2013/14 semi-finals
Exeter boss Rob Baxter will tell his players to enjoy the build-up to next week's LV= Cup final at Sandy Park.
Exeter will enjoy home advantage in the LV= Cup final after claiming a 22-19 victory over Bath on Sunday.
Mark McCall rued Marcelo Bosch's try after his Saracens side lost to Northampton in the LV= Cup semi-final.