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Preview: Bath v Leicester Tigers

Preview: Bath v Leicester Tigers

Logic would dictate that Bath Rugby’s comfortable home win over Leicester Tigers earlier this season gives them the psychological advantage heading into Saturday’s Aviva Premiership Rugby semi-final.

Yet Leicester prop Marcos Ayerza is adamant the opposite rings true as they return to the Rec seeking to reach a tenth Premiership Rugby final in the last 11 years.

George Ford produced an imperious display as Bath cruised to a 45-0 win over the Tigers in their first contest back in September.

The England fly-half will again try to pull the strings as his side look to record a seventh consecutive Aviva Premiership Rugby win – something they haven’t achieved since the 2009/10 season.

Leicester are in good form themselves, having won eight of their last nine league games to seal their place in the play-offs for the 11th successive campaign – and Ayerza believes that experience could prove vital.

“We are a good side, we have a lot of experience at this stage of the season and we know what we are capable of doing,” explained the Argentine loosehead.

“We have not played the way we can at times this year but I think it will be a great game – we know that we can be champions again and we are two games away from that.

“Everyone wants to play well and perform, they are the home side and they will be looking to produce a special performance. They are a very hard team to break down as well as their abilities going forward.

“Bath did dominate us in that game earlier in the season and we know they will be raring to go again on Saturday.

“But I think that does mean that the pressure will be on them to perform again.”

While Leicester required a 22-14 victory over table-toppers Northampton Saints on the final day of the regular season to guarantee a top-four spot, Bath’s consistency meant they had a home semi-final wrapped up before round 22 rolled around.

Their home form has been particularly dominant – notching a league-high 47 points at the Rec while suffering a solitary defeat to Northampton in round 15.

The historic ground will host a Premiership Rugby semi-final for the first time, becoming the tenth venue to do so, and captain Stuart Hooper claims the anticipation at reaching a first final since 2004 is already palpable around the club.

“There is definitely a lot of excitement around here as it’s a massive game but we’re not looking too far ahead,” said Hooper.

“We’ve delivered for 22 games and learned from both the good and bad things we’ve done and that’s what we will continue to do.

“We did well this year to get a home semi-final but once you get there the focus has got to be back on preparing the best you can for what could be two huge games.

“The 45-0 victory earlier this season is something we won’t be reading too much into as we just look at playing well in each game.

“It’s about making the right decisions and playing what’s in front of us at the weekend.”

Tickets to the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final are selling faster than this time last year so now’s the time to click here to book your place at the world’s biggest club rugby final

Recreation Ground, 5pm Live on BT Sport

Referee: JP Doyle (97th Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Paul Dix and Ashley Rowden. TMO: Graham Hughes.

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