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Preview: Bath Rugby v Gloucester Rugby Preview: Bath Rugby v Gloucester Rugby

Preview: Bath Rugby v Gloucester Rugby

Bath Rugby may have lost their last five matches in succession – equalling their worst run of form since the 2011/12 season – but Gloucester Rugby hooker Richard Hibbard insists that all bets are off when a derby match rolls around.

Bath Rugby may have lost their last five matches in succession – equalling their worst run of form since the 2011/12 season – but Gloucester Rugby hooker Richard Hibbard insists that all bets are off when a derby match rolls around.

Neither side had have the league season they would have been hoping for so far, with Gloucester sitting at eighth in the Aviva Premiership Rugby table, one position ahead of Friday’s opponents Bath who have a game in hand.

Bath have not tasted victory since December 29 when they beat Worcester Warriors at the Rec.

But they have toppled Gloucester in each of their last five Aviva Premiership Rugby encounters, and haven’t lost to the Cherry and Whites at home since February 2012.

And as far as Hibbard is concerned, recent form is irrelevant ahead of a West Country derby showdown.

He said: “You know derby games, they’re never going to be a runaway game, and you know it’s going to be a tight, hard-fought battle.

“With derbies, there’s never a good time to play a team. It’s on the night and you know what’s coming.

“It means so much to the supporters, to get the bragging rights.

“Bath are a strong side. Obviously they’ve had their ups and downs with their form in the league as well, same as us.

“It’s going to be a bruising encounter, they’re a big team across the board, and even though they are missing a few boys they've got quality in depth.

“It’s going to be one hell of a battle on Friday night.”

Gloucester came agonisingly close to securing a victory against third-place Leicester TIgers, only to be denied by a Logovi'i Mulipola converted try in the 79th minute.

The result means Gloucester have won just once in their last four Aviva Premiership Rugby encounters.

Bath also suffered from a Saracens late show after the champions battled back from 13-0 down to post 19 unanswered points.

And loosehead prop Max Lahiff, a star performer in the scrum at Allianz Park, is relishing another battle with Gloucester’s set-piece operators.

“Gloucester will be looking to right the wrongs against Leicester, they should have got the win,” said Lahiff.

“We’ve got to get a run going, and there is no better time to do it than in a derby. It’s not a game you have to get up for, that’s for sure. I love a derby and so do all the boys here.

“We’ve got to try and take them on and put the crush on. They’ve got some really good operators, Nick Wood has been in the Premiership for such a long time and Jon Afoa is a great player too. They’ve got some massively talented guys.”

Recreation Ground, 7.45pm – Live on BT Sport

Referee: Matthew Carly (38th Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Andrew Jackson & Simon McConnell. TMO: Sean Davey.

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