8:02am Friday 10th January 2014
ONE thing is for certain even if Bath opt to ring the changes for their clash with Newport Gwent Dragons one – they will head for Rodney Parade with a heavyweight pack.
The English outfit have already put the squeeze on the Dragons twice this season, somehow losing a pre-season friendly 23-20 in Newport before powering to a 26-10 Amlin Challenge Cup success at the Rec.
They are in command of Pool Two and will claim a place in the quarter-finals if they avoid defeat tomorrow afternoon (kick-off 2.30pm).
Bath tinkered with their side for the October meeting between the sides and are likely to do the same for their trip over the Severn Bridge given that they played Leicester last Sunday and host Bordeaux-Begles on Thursday.
But they boast a strong squad and showed their front row strength in depth at the Rec.
The English side were able to replace 31-year-old Samoa international loosehead Anthony Perenise with 31-year-old Wales cap Paul James and 28-year-old England tighthead Davey Wilson with 30-year-old Argentina prop Juan Pablo Orlandi.
England hooker Rob Webber was given the weekend off while Argentina international number 2 Eusebio Guinazu came off the bench.
Whoever they plump for at Rodney Parade will have an impressive pedigree.
"It's going to be tough against Bath, they've got a great pack," said Dragons tighthead prop Nathan Buck. "They are a typical English side and have very good scrummaging props in Paul James and David Wilson.
"They've got great strength in depth and a quality team but we've been working hard in training and hope to take another step forward."
Buck was part of an improved scrummaging performance against Cardiff Blues on Boxing Day only for a calf injury to prevent him taking to the field in the return fixture on New Year's Day.
It summed up a frustrating campaign for the 24-year-old for Gilwern, who has made just five Dragons appearances and 10 for Cross Keys.
"I was very happy to be out there on Boxing Day against the Blues in one of the biggest games of the season but I was disappointed I couldn't play the week after because of a calf injury," he said.
"I felt it went very well, we've been working hard on the set piece and got a bit of change from it.
"It was just nice to be out there because I've not had too many chances; the scrum went pretty well and I worked hard around the park in defence.
"But (tightheads) Francisco Chaparro and Dan Way have been playing well in fairness, so I've just had to train hard and hope to take my chances when they come."
And a solid showing against the Bath big boys would certainly make an impression on his coaches.
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