Bath’s Nick Abendanon set to make 200th Aviva Premiership appearance
Aviva Premiership: Bath full-back Nick Abendanon is set to make his 200th top-flight appearance on Saturday night
Nick Abendanon will join an exclusive club on Friday night when he makes his 200th appearance as Premiership play-off hopefuls Sale Sharks visit the Recreation Ground.
The South Africa-born England international was instrumental in Bath’s thumping 44-23 win over London Irish last week and is joined in the backline by England prospects Anthony Watson and Semesa Rokoduguni.
Kyle Eastmond and Ollie Devoto continue their midfield combination, with England’s George Ford and Ireland legend Peter Stringer in the half-backs.
The boys love playing in front of a big crowd on a Friday night and the atmosphere that comes with it
Sale arrive at the Rec on the back of an impressive home win over title-chasing Northampton Saints, who had been unbeaten in their previous 11 Premiership matches and Bath coach Mike Ford is aware of the threat that the Lancashire side poses.
“Sale looked very good last weekend – they beat a team that have been in the top two all season, and will be full of confidence from that win,” Ford said.
“The experience and strength they have in key positions is vital for them, and we know they’ll bring a big battle at the breakdown.
“We know exactly what a threat they are—they’re probably one of the most underrated sides in the Premiership—and when they hit a run of form they can be a very dangerous side.
“Having said that, we really got back on track on Saturday against London Irish, and we’ll be looking to take that momentum into the game on Friday.
“We worked smartly to break them down and when we did, we could release the backs, who are in flying form at the moment. We took the sting out of the crowd and emotion of the occasion and then took our chances when we created them, earning ourselves a vital five points.
“The boys love playing in front of a big crowd on a Friday night and the atmosphere that comes with it, and with so much importance on this one, it would be great to have a packed house come kick-off as it feels like an extra man.”
England Saxons loosehead prop Nathan Catt should make his 100th appearance for Bath when he comes off the bench.
With Francois Louw injured, Guy Mercer comes in at openside as the only change in the pack with Matt Garvey and Leroy Houston continuing on the blindside and at number eight respectively.
Stuart Hooper captains Bath from the second-row, partnered by Dave Attwood with Wales loosehead Paul James packing down in the front row with England tighthead Dave Wilson either side of hooker Ross Batty.
Bath: Nick Abendanon; Anthony Watson, Ollie Devoto, Kyle Eastmond, Semesa Rokoduguni; George Ford, Peter Stringer; Paul James, Ross Batty, David Wilson, Stuart Hooper (captain), Dave Attwood, Matt Garvey, Guy Mercer, Leroy Houston.
Replacements: Tom Dunn, Nathan Catt, Anthony Perenise, Dominic Day, Carl Fearns; Micky Young, Gavin Henson, Horacio Agulla