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Wednesday, 12 December, 2018

Bath can break Saints' shackles after the break

Blackadder's cunning plan could pay off

Ace Samoa scrum-half Kahn Fotuali'i gets Bath on the attack in their recent win over Northampton
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Bath v Northampton
BT Sport 1, 7.45pm Friday
Scarlets v Leinster
Sky Sports Action, 7.35pm Friday

Bath powered away from Northampton after the break in the teams' Premiership meeting at the Rec last month and they are worth backing to win the second half of their first Anglo-Welsh Cup semi-final too at the same venue.

The West Country club were the only outfit to claim four wins in the pool stages, showing they are comfortable with the promotion of squad and academy players in the absence of their internationals and injured stars. 

Home head coach Todd Blackadder is clearly taking the challenge of Northampton seriously. Saints' 24-20 win at Sale in round three turned out to be key to their progress and the Sharks' elimination. All eight of Blackadder's replacements have representative honours and are game-breakers, including Samoa scrum-half Kahn Fotuali'i and outside backs Aled Brew and Matt Banahan.

Super Rugby round four verdicts

Saints start with a top-notch back row of Jamie Gibson, Heinrich Brussow and Teimana Harrison and boast a backline with plenty of pace and trickery if they can secure quality ball.

However, apart from that Sale success they have largely been defensively woeful on the road this season and Bath's power and precision should tell.

A nine-point start for Scarlets from visitors Leinster looks too big in their rearranged Pro14 clash.

No Leinster side is ever a second-string outfit and this one contains internationals Sean O'Brien, Jack Conan and Scott Fardy in the pack. They deserve their place at the top of Conference B, too. But Leinster won only 20-13 when the teams met in Dublin three weeks ago and they lost 29-24 at Edinburgh before that.

Current champions Scarlets beat Ulster 34-10 at Parc y Scarlets a fortnight ago and last season beat Leinster 38-29 in Wales during the autumn internationals. They also stunned them in an RDS semi-final two months after a hammering there in the league.

Bath to win second half
2pts 4-5 Betfair, Paddy Power
Scarlets +9
1pt 10-11 Ladbrokes

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Scarlets beat Ulster 34-10 at Parc y Scarlets a fortnight ago and last season beat Leinster 38-29 in Wales during the autumn internationals
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