As one of two games to kick-start Derby Weekend in the Gallagher Premiership, Bath and the Bristol Bears are preparing to renew hostilities on Friday night (19:45) at The Recreation Ground.
Only 14 miles separate The Rec and Ashton Gate, making this geographically the closest rivalry in the competition.
The action on the field is expected to be a closely fought contest too as both sides hope to give their supporters a perfect start to the weekend.
Starting with the hosts, Bath have been given a big boost in the backline with Cameron Redpath returning at inside centre.
Redpath will renew his partnership with Scotland team-mate Finn Russell at fly-half and England’s Ollie Lawrence at outside centre.
As for Bristol, the Bears welcome back England international Ellis Genge in the front-row following his efforts in France at the World Cup.
Second-row Ed Holmes is set to make his 100th appearance for Bristol in this West Country derby as he returns to partner fellow lock Joe Batley.
Max Lahiff also returns in the front-row where he will slot in alongside Genge and hooker Gabriel Oghre.
Fitz Harding is out injured so the back-row will be made up of James Dun, Harry Thacker and Magnus Bradbury.
Bath are the firm favourites to win on home soil at 3/10, while Bristol are 13/5 to cause an upset at The Rec. The tie on the night is available at 22/1.
In what could be another tight game, Bristol are 4/5 in the first first-half handicap market with +5.5 points.
Bristol +9.5 Handicap @ 5/6
Bath were very impressive last time out in another derby as they ran out 45-24 winners at rivals Gloucester.
Russell pulled the strings for his new side against the Cherry & Whites, while the former Racing 92 star was also accurate with the boot with five conversions and a penalty.
Bath are starting to find their rhythm and the return of Redpath will only add more threat to their attractive backline.This is a contest that Bath should win but there is little value to be had in a straight victory for the home side.
What contests between Bath and Bristol have shown in recent years is that both sides get up for this one and there is usually very little to choose from between them.
Seven of the last 10 Premiership clashes between these close rivals have been settled by fewer than seven points.
With that in mind our prediction is that this might well be another close encounter and Bristol with a +9.5 handicap offers good value at 5/6.
Genge’s return is a huge boost for the Bears and his presence in the pack should drive up standards of those around him.
It might not be enough to claim an away win but should help Bristol make this another tight one at The Rec.
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