9:02am Friday 10th January 2014
BATH are expecting a fierce battle at the breakdown as they look to seal Amlin Challenge Cup qualification against a "streetwise" Newport Gwent Dragons, writes Chris Kirwan.
The English outfit will earn top spot in Pool Two and a place in the quarter-finals if they avoid defeat at Rodney Parade tomorrow afternoon (kick-off 2.30pm).
They overpowered the Dragons 26-10 at the Rec in October but were edged out 23-20 in a pre-season friendly in Newport in August.
Bath are impressing in the Aviva Premiership and look good value for a place in the end-of-season play-offs but still want to chase silverware on all fronts.
And coach Toby Booth wants to get a place in the last-eight sorted ahead of their home encounter with Bordeaux-Begles on Thursday.
"We go there with the intention of finalising our qualification from this group," he said to the Bath Chronicle.
"Mathematically, they are still in the situation too, so we need to make sure we are as good as can be.
"Rodney Parade is a very tough place to go. We went there in pre-season and lost and we haven't had too many of them. That is a mark of what a good side they are.
"We know how tough they are, particularly at the breakdown. They are a pretty streetwise bunch, so we are going to need to make sure we can execute under all sorts of different pressures."
Bath rang the changes for the first European encounter with the Dragons but showed their strength in depth with a comprehensive victory in awful conditions.
Their upcoming schedule means they are likely to tinker with their side this weekend. Last Sunday they played a bruising encounter at Leicester, when a last-minute Tigers try forced a draw, and they will be want to impress in front of their own fans against Bordeaux.
"We are coming off a shorter turnaround and then we go from a Saturday to a Thursday, so we are going to need to manage our troops pretty carefully over the next two games," said Booth.
"There is certainly going to be some change around the two games but how we divide that up, we haven't really decided yet."
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