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Bath select an unchanged team for the Gallagher Premiership final

By Liam Heagney
Bath's Beno Obano celebrates semi-final victory (Photo by Bob Bradford/CameraSport via Getty Images)

Bath boss Johann van Grann has named the same starting team for Saturday’s Gallagher Premiership final at Twickenham following last weekend’s semi-final win versus Sale.

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The Sharks were seen off on a 31-23 scoreline at The Rec and the reaction from Bath, who are chasing a first league title since 1996, has been to name an unchanged 23 for the final versus Northampton, who have also kept faith with the same 23 that earned them their semi-final win over Saracens.

A statement read: “From a thrilling performance that saw The Rec roar to its feet, Johann van Graan sticks with his matchday-23 from last week’s play-off.

“Heading to the home of English rugby to take on Northampton, captain Ben Spencer will lead the team for the final time this season.

“In the pack, last week’s try-scorer Beno Obano keeps a firm grasp of the starting loosehead spot, seeing Tom Dunn take the number two jersey at hooker and Thomas du Toit complete the front row.

Head-to-Head

Last 5 Meetings

Wins
3
Draws
0
Wins
2
Average Points scored
24
27
First try wins
80%
Home team wins
100%

“Behind them, Quinn Roux and Charlie Ewels partner up once again in the second row. Across the back row, Ted Hill and Sam Underhill retain their positions on the flanks, with Alfie Barbeary completing the pack at No8.

“Spencer is joined by Finn Russell in the half-back pairing, with fellow Scotsman Cameron Redpath and outside centre Ollie Lawrence providing the crash ball power in the midfield.

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“Completing the back line, Will Muir and Joe Cokanasiga continue their stronghold down the wings, with Matt Gallagher earning his final run out in a Bath jersey before departing the club for Benetton.

“Also sticking with an unchanged bench after their impactful performance last week, Niall Annett, Juan Schoeman and Will Stuart will provide their power at the set-piece, with Schoeman also bidding farewell to the Bath jersey.

“Elliott Stooke, Josh Bayliss and Miles Reid retain their replacement forward spots, whilst Louis Schreuder and Orlando Bailey are named again as replacement backs in van Graan’s six/two split.”

Bath (vs Northampton, Saturday): 15. Matt Gallagher; 14. Joe Cokanasiga, 13. Ollie Lawrence, 12. Cameron Redpath, 11. Will Muir; 10. Finn Russell, 9. Ben Spencer (capt); 1. Beno Obano, 2. Tom Dunn, 3. Thomas du Toit, 4. Quinn Roux, 5. Charlie Ewels, 6. Ted Hill, 7. Sam Underhill, 8. Alfie Barbeary. Reps: 16. Niall Annett, 17. Juan Schoeman, 18. Will Stuart, 19. Elliott Stooke, 20. Josh Bayliss, 21. Louis Schreuder, 22. Orlando Bailey, 23. Miles Reid.

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Mzilikazi 1 hours ago
Is Ireland versus South Africa a battle for the title of ‘world champions’?

Very good article, Nic, and I find agreement with what you write virtually 100%. I think this two mach series has increasingly become one which will be very difficult for Ireland to win. After the first game of the last 6N, I would have been very full of confidence taking on the Boks in SA. France beaten by a big margin in France, it looked as if Ireland had emerged in fine form from the World Cup, despite the very narrow loss to the AB’s. But after that game, a slide began, ending with the defeat to England. Ireland were very fortunate to win this years 6N ! And as you so fully expose, this has not been a good season for Leinster, or indeed, in my view, for any Irish province. The Leinster loos to the Bulls, and then Munster letting a glorious chance slip to the Glasgow Warriors down at Thomond. Man, that one will really hurt. And both Connacht and Ulster have at times looked very poor this seaso, bith heavily beaten on occassion. The loss of both Gibson Park and Keenan are huge blows, especially Gibson Park. And there is really only one clear class 10 in the touring party, Jack Crowley, and he is still a very young player learning his trade. If he goes down, heaven help Ireland. And in my view, Ireland do not have a good scrummaging front row, SA do, and in great depth too. But despite all this doom and gloom, I always believe my team can win. Not that they will win, just can ! Ireland will still field what is the best and most talented team overall that I have seen in my lifetime. But the coaching group will really have to step up, no awful decisions like the one made against the AB’s in the QF….keeping the totally spent and poorly performing(on the day) Sexton on for the full 80mins, leaving Crowley on the sidelines. Ireland should never have lost that game !

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S
Shaylen 4 hours ago
Is Ireland versus South Africa a battle for the title of ‘world champions’?

Ireland have all the tools required to hurt SA. They develop quick ball, hold onto the ball for long periods, stretch the game when its on, have powerful mobile forwards, a good kicking game and they can hold their own in the scrum. They also can force turnovers regularly and in general do well at the breakdown. When Munster, the Ospreys and Glasgow all won games in SA this year against the Bulls and Stormers they did just that and won. It is also the reason why Ireland won the game at the world cup last year. The problem for Ireland is that SA have all the tools required to hurt them as well and hurt them a great deal more than England did in the Six Nations. They are physical and powerful at the set piece, they rush up and counter the Irish attacking system and they can really attack the breakdown and slow your ball down. Their counterattacking threat is also a big weapon and they score many tries from turnover turning defence into offence in a second. Toulouse and the Bulls nailed Leinster in this way and Glasgow did the same thing to Munster. So the series will be really interesting because both sides are so good at countering each other. Interested to see what kind of surprises Tony Brown springs and how the SA game develops. Feel like SA have more potential to surprise Ireland but then a new coaching set up as well as the fact that Japanese and foreign based players tend to take about 5 to 6 weeks to get up to speed might work in Irelands favour. SA have shipped at least one game in 4 of the last 5 June/July test windows going back to 2018 for this exact reason.

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F
Flankly 5 hours ago
'Let them keep talking' - Mike Catt claps back over Bok remarks

The comments were reported weirdly. De Allende did say it would be war, but he said it amidst comments like “Ireland play such good footy”, and “they are so good at the breakdown”. He said that the Boks lost heavily to Ireland a few years back and that they felt the Irish press was dismissive of the Boks. I don’t recall that, but I suppose it is true, and that SA players would want to turn around that sentiment. The RWC loss to Ireland would naturally pour fuel on the fire. In short, it is a natural thing for passionate players like him to feel very strongly about the goal of registering a convincing series win against Ireland. There is really nothing to see here. As an aside, the SA team shouldn’t be too self-righteous about this kind of a situation. Recall that in 2004, after SA won the Ireland series in SA, Jake White noted that no more than two Irish players were good enough for selection in his Bok side. "Considering the facts, I think only two of their players would be included in the Bok team - O'Driscoll (centre) and maybe one of the locks. How could we have lost against the Irish?" O’Driscoll disagreed and said that it was close, and Ireland were just tired. My Irish friends were pretty incensed by the comments, quite rightly. And I am sure it was part of the energy that drove them to some famous wins against the Boks. The Etzebeth thing was a little different. I think he was just not hearing what was being said. It is not that unusual for someone to say “We will see you in the final”. Of course it is a statement of confidence, which every team should have, but it is also a compliment. I think there was a cultural fly-by, in which a “see you soon” comment was taken to mean “we will beat you again”. But it was a good story, and a convenient clickbaity headline. I don’t think anyone is intentionally trying to rile up anything. But if you interview a Bok player and prod them about their passion wrt the Ireland tour, you are likely to hear some pretty heartfelt words. And so you should.

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