Bath v Bristol
Friday, 19:45 GMT, Televised
One of rugby’s great rivalries is rekindled for the televised match, and whilst Bath are enjoying a resurgence from last season’s doldrums, Bristol have found life in the top flight very difficult to cope with. That said, having recorded their first victory of the season in the Anglo Welsh club, they will travel to the Rec with high hopes of causing difficulties to their neighbours, even if a victory looks beyond them. Bath are missing a host of internationals, including the half-back pairing of George Ford and Kahn Fotuali’i. From the pack, they are also missing Dave Attwood, Charlie Ewels and Luke Charteris, but are boosted by the return of Taulupe Faletau from injury. Also missing from the backs are Anthony Watson and Semesa Rokoduguni.
Bristol’s injury list is starting to ease a little, as they welcome veteran Marc Jones back from injury for his first AP start of the season. Billy Searle makes his debut at fly half, after a schizophrenic performance in the LV Cup, which he would doubtless have learnt much from.
The weather in Bath looks grim throughout the course of the day, with heavy rain expected right up until kick off. The Rec, as the name implies, is a public park, and the drainage there is not exactly state of the art. Bath overcame Bristol by 22-6 earlier in the season in the European Challenge Cup, but I would assess Bristol’s playing resources as stronger for this fixture, whilst Bath’s are significantly weaker. For this reason, I am taking Bristol to keep Bath within the 18 point handicap on offer.
Bristol +18; 2.5 units at 1.91 (Paddy Power, BetFred, Betfair)