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Internationals return for Tykes and Bath

26 February 2004

Phil Davies welcomes back internationals Mark Regan, Alix Popham and Gavin Kerr from RBS Six Nations duty to the team for Saturday's game. Regan replaces Rob Rawlinson at hooker, Rawlinson is ruled out of the game with a rib injury, Kerr comes in for Matt Holt and Alix Popham for Matt Salter.  Mike Shelley also returns to the front row after being on the bench for last week's trip to Bath. Likewise, Stuart Hooper will partner Tom Palmer in the second row having appeared as a replacement last week. Diego Albanese has recovered from the hamstring strain that ruled him out last week so Phil Christophers is able to return to the centres. England U21 captain Clive Stuart-Smith returns from successive victories with England to replace Alan Dickens at scrum half.

Davies said: "We face a massive game for the club this week.  In preparation, this week we have spent two days away in the Lake District on a mini training camp.  We have had a lot of disruptions in recent weeks with players away on international duty however everyone is back this week and it has been good to get the lads together as a group and focus ourselves for the task ahead.

Mark Regan, Alix Popham, Gavin Kerr and Aaron Persico have all reported back from Six Nations duty and are keen to play their part.  I have been pleased with our last two performances and the addition of these quality players to our squad will give us a real boost.

However, the same is true for Bath who welcome back a host of world class players back to the side that beat us last Saturday at the Recreation Ground.  John Connolly and his coaching team at Bath have done a tremendous job this season turning their club around from last year.  They have a group of young talented players who have clearly learned a lot from their troubles last year and they have reaped the benefits this term.

We were disappointed not to get at least a point out of last week's game after we controlled the game for long periods.  I was particularly pleased with our first half performances when we carried on where we had left off the previous week at Newcastle. Our backline is full of potential and it is great to see them asking questions of the opposition from all over the field.  It means we are a threat whenever we have the ball however we need to make sure we secure good ball first before we can do that.  I'm sure that we will have learnt the lessons of last week for today and it should be a classic Cup game.

Cup matches were always something I enjoyed in my playing games.  There is a different atmosphere during Cup matches, you know that for one team that competition will be over come the final whistle and the other is one step closer to Twickenham.  That brings with it pressure but also an air of unpredictability."

The team in full is:

15. Matt Cardey
14. Diego Albanese
13. Phil Christophers
12. Andre Snyman
11. Dan Scarbrough
10. Gordon Ross
9. Clive Stuart-Smith

1. Mike Shelley
2. Mark Regan
3. Gavin Kerr
4. Tom Palmer
5. Stuart Hooper
6. Colm Rigney
7. Dan Hyde
8. Alix Popham

16. Matt Holt
17. Gary Powell
18. Phil Murphy
19. Matt Salter
20. Alan Dickens
21. Tristan Davies
22. Duncan Hodge


Bath are the most successful club of all time in the Powergen Cup having reached and won 10 Finals in a spell of 13 seasons between 1984 and 1996.  However, since their victory over Leicester in the 1996 Final, Bath have failed to get beyond the Quarter Final stage in the seven seasons since.
Today's game equals the Tykes furthest ever progress in this competition.  The Tykes made the last eight in their first season in the Zurich Premiership in 2001-2002 when a Jonny Wilkinson-inspired Newcastle Falcons defeated Leeds 41-24 at Headingley.
Bath defeated the runners-up in the last two Powergen Cup Finals, Northampton, 42-13 in the last round whilst Leeds took revenge over Harlequins at Headingley with a 13-6 win, after Quins had knocked Leeds out last season.
Tykes coach Jon Callard won the Cup on four occasions with Bath, in 1990, 1994, 1995 and 1996. 

Bath Team News

Mike Tindall returns as a strong Bath Rugby side travels to Leeds to take on the Tykes in the Powergen Cup quarter-final at Headingley tomorrow (2.30pm).  The World Cup winning centre has not played since rupturing tendons in his right ankle playing for Bath Rugby in the victory over Saracens at Vicarage Road in the Zurich Premiership on 27th December.

However, a full three weeks ahead of schedule, Mike is relishing the prospect of getting back into action. "The medical and physiotherapy team here is second to none," said the 25-year-old. "I am back way ahead of schedule and am feeling great. Tomorrow's Powergen Cup game against Leeds is a big match for the club, and I am really looking forward to getting back into the thick of the action."

Mike will start in a much changed Bath Rugby side that also sees the return of England team mates Olly Barkley, Danny Grewcock and Iain Balshaw. Scotland's Simon Danielli also starts, whilst Mike Catt retains the number ten jersey after a strong second half showing last weekend.

Ireland international Kevin Maggs is not included in the squad as he will not return from Ireland duty until late this afternoon.

David Flatman and Duncan Bell have overcome knocks to start in the front row, whilst Steve Borthwick returns from suspension to resume his second row partnership with captain Danny Grewcock.

"Whilst the Zurich Premiership is our major focus there is no doubt that this competition is extremely important to us," said Head Coach John Connolly. "We are welcoming a number of internationals back for the match and we see this competition as another opportunity to secure a place in the Heineken Cup next season. We would all love a trip to Twickenham.

"It is great to have Mike Tindall back inside of nine weeks, which is remarkable. He will give us another dimension when he is fully fit, but at this stage we will have to see to what extent his participation will be tomorrow."

Bath Rugby v Leeds Tykes, Powergen Cup, Headingley 2.30pm.

15 Iain Balshaw,
14 Alex Crockett,
13 Mike Tindall,
12 Olly Barkley,
11 Simon Danielli,
10 Mike Catt,
9 Martyn Wood,

1 David Flatman,
2 Jonathan Humphreys,
3 Duncan Bell,
4 Steve Borthwick,
5 Danny Grewcock,
6 Andy Beattie,
7 Michael Lipman,
8 Zak Feaunati,

16 Hentie Martens,
17 Lee Mears,
18 Matt Stevens,
19 Wylie Human,
20, Chris Malone,
21 James Scaysbrook,
22 Rob Fidler.

 * Bath Rugby's Zurich Premiership game away to NEC Harlequins has been moved to Sunday 2nd May 2004.




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