Home wins are vital, says Bath’s Claassens
DEFENDING champions Leinster, who lead Pool Three on seven points after defeating Glasgow but drawing with Montpellier, travel to second-placed Bath, the 1998 champions, in Heineken Cup action today.
Bath lost to Glasgow Warriors before sneaking past Montpellier 16-13 last time out.
“If you don’t win your home games you will be on the way out of the tournament – and you need to get at least a losing bonus point away from home as well,” said Bath scrumhalf Michael Claassens.
Bath are without flanker Lewis Moody, who is out of action for 10 to 12 weeks after undergoing shoulder surgery. But they will have South African flanker Francois Louw and flyhalf Stephen Donald available.
Pool One leaders Scarlets face former two-time winners Munster with the Irish side without former All Black flyer Doug Howlett who will miss the rest of the season after rupturing his Achilles in last weekend’s Celtic League defeat to Ospreys.
Wales centre Jonathan Davies is hoping to be fit for the Scarlets’ double header (the teams will clash again next week) against the Irish side, thereby giving the Welsh a major fillip.
Davies, 23, had to sit out his country’s 24-18 defeat to Australia last Saturday with a groin injury, but is hoping to pass a fitness test to resume battle when the two-time European champions visit this weekend.
“I am a lot more confident about playing than I was last week. Hopefully everything will be right,” Davies told reporters.
“Obviously I was gutted not to be able to be involved last Saturday. It was a tough decision but it was a wise one in the long term and hopefully it will pay off with me being able to play this weekend.”
In Pool Two, Edinburgh face second-placed Cardiff in the Welsh capital, having collected nine points from wins over Racing-metro and London Irish.
They will be buoyed by the knowledge that Cardiff will be without experienced flank Martyn Williams.
The 36- year- old former Welsh international has already been out for three months with a broken arm and has now suffered a recurrence of the problem in training.
Pool Four sees 2001 and 2002 champions Leicester go to Clermont with the Tigers two points clear at the top after wins over Aironi and Ulster.
English Premiership champions Saracens and Ospreys face off in Pool Five at Wembley with the Welsh side featuring winger Shane Williams, who played his last international against Australia last Saturday.
Saracens played at Wembley last season but went down to a 25-23 defeat against Leinster.
Last night saw the Cardiff Blues host Edinburgh, Aironi play Ulster and Harlequins take on Toulouse. – SAPA-AFP
TV Today Heineken Cup Connacht v Gloucester, 3.15pm on SS6 Scarlets v Munster, 5.30pm on SS6 Saracens v Ospreys, 7.50pm on SS6 This weekend’s fixtures TODAY Pool 1: Castres v Northampton, Scarlets v Munster Pool 2: Racing Metro 92 v London Irish Pool 5: Treviso v Biarritz, Saracens v Ospreys Pool 6: Connacht v Gloucester TOMORROW Pool 3: Bath v Leinster, Glasgow v Montpellier Pool 4: Clermont v Leicester