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RUGBY: New signings given the nod for Bath’s Premiership start
12:01pm Thursday 5th September 2013 in Sport
SUMMER signings George Ford, Jonathan Joseph, Matt Garvey, Anthony Watson and Leroy Houston have been included in Bath’s team to take on Newcastle in their Aviva Premiership opener tomorrow night (7.45pm).
Ford, who joined from reigning Premiership champions Leicester Tigers, has been handed the fly-half jersey as Bath begin their campaign against the promoted Falcons at Kingston Park.
The 20-year-old partners veteran Irish scrum- half Peter Stringer at half-back, while Joseph, who joined from London Irish, links up with Kyle Eastmond, resuming their partnership from Eng-land’s summer tour of Argentina.
Watson, another recruit from London Irish, who helped England to the Junior World Cup title in the summer, gets his first start at full-back while fellow former Exile Garvey is included at flanker.
Former Wales and British Lions star Gavin Henson is named among the substitutes, along with fellow recruits Alafoti Fa’osiliva and scrum-half Micky Young, who returns to face his former club along with prop David Wilson.
Bath director of rugby Gary Gold, who is also making his return to Newcastle, whom he coached in the 2011-12 campaign that saw them relegated, has warned his side to expect a baptism of fire in the new Premier-ship campaign.
Falcons soared to the Championship title and promotion at the first time of asking following their demotion and Gold said: “Their year in the Championship might well turn out to be a blessing in disguise because it allowed them to get back to a winning rugby habit.
“They know how to win and it doesn’t matter what level of rugby you are playing at, it’s still really difficult to do that week in, week out.
“That just deserves a massive amount of respect and one thing as a team we are going to give them is that respect.
“When you have won the number of games they did last season, they certainly earn that.
“They are going to take some big scalps up there during the course of the season. Our task is to make sure we are not one of them and to do that we have to get ourselves in the best mental state.’
“I have a bit of intimate knowledge of the club up there and we realise how up for it they are going to be
“You can see they are very well coached by Dean (Richards, director of rugby) and John Wells (forwards coach).
“Our pre-season form is irrelevant really, it doesn’t mean anything.
“Momentum is important (in the early part of the season), but you have got to play everybody.’’
Bath team to play Newcastle Falcons: 15. Anthony Watson, 14. Semesa Rokoduguni, 13. Jonathan Joseph, 12. Kyle Eastmond, 11. Matt Banahan, 10. George Ford, 9. Peter Stringer, 1. Paul James, 2. Rob Webber, 3. David Wilson, 4. Stuart Hooper (capt), 5. Dave Attwood, 6. Matt Garvey, 7. Mat Gilbert, 8. Leroy Houston.
Replacements: 16. Ross Batty, 17. Nathan Catt, 18. Anthony Perenise, 19. Dominic Day, 20. Alafoti Fa’osiliva, 21. Micky Young, 22. Gavin Henson, 23. Tom Biggs.
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