Bristol Bears, having being promoted from the Championship last year, will be looking to hit the ground running under the watchful eye of head coach Pat Lam. The club based in the south-west, have high hopes this year of a successful season with some key high profile signings. However it will be a tough start to the year, facing a team that has equally ambitious goals in the form of Bath.
Bath should at the very least be aiming to secure Champions Cup rugby, after finishing the 2017/2018 season at a disappointing sixth place. Like Bristol, the Somerset club have also made a string of strong signings and this should hold the club in good standing coming into a long and arduous season.
It would be difficult for anyone to predicts tonight’s match, but we will attempt to pinpoint some of the key players who can win the game for each team.
Continue reading below…
We take a look at three players who we believe will make a decisive difference in the match for both teams.
Joe Cokanasiga (Wing)
This will be the first Premiership match for the 20-year-old since his move from newly-relegated London Irish. Cokanasiga scored for the men in blue during the final pre-season game against Scarlets last week after intercepting the ball from halfway and easily cruising through under the sticks.
Standing at 6ft 3 and weighing in at almost 18st, the Fijian-born winger has been likened by many to Matt Banahan. However, speed is what really draws Cokanasiga apart from his peers, with the ability to beat any defender in a footrace.
We are sure that there will be a big impact from this player at some stage during the match and he is certainly one to keep an eye on.
George Smith (Openside Flanker)
At 38 years of age, Smith is undoubtedly one of the most experienced heads in World Rugby. Smith has become known around the rugby world for his unbelievable work ethic around the pitch, and that has not changed a bit despite his age. The former Australia international has played for Toulon, Wasps and the Reds along with many other clubs, however this new challenge appears to be different from the rest.
Bristol Bears are without a doubt, ‘the new boys’ on the block and Smith will have to face up to some of England’s most promising back-rows this season.
We are sure that you will witness some Smith magic tonight so make sure to keep an eye out for him on the flank.
Sam Underhill (Openside Flanker)
English rugby has been blessed to have such a talented youngster at their disposal. The 22-year-old Bath player will be hoping recapture some of the form that he had from the start of last season, when he single-handedly bulldozed many of the teams that he came up against in the Premiership.
His defence is without a doubt his greatest asset and you can be sure to see some big hits from this man. His England debut came in Novemeber of last year, when he made a series of crunching hits on the Argentinian team that he came up against. Underhill would be well worth considering adding to your Premiership Fantasy team for the amounts of completed tackles that he gets through in a game. (Scroll down to the bottom to find the link.)
Underhill is still young and he faces a tough test in his opposite number, George Smith tonight. It will definitely a tale of youth vs experience and it will be interesting to see who comes out on top.
Tonight’s clash is a tantalising one to say the least, so make sure to catch the game LIVE on www.RugbyPass.com or if you can’t manage that then catch all the updates and statistics here – https://bit.ly/2PRLw4v
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