Rugby Union

Mathew Tait says Leicester's pride was dented by defeat to Bath

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Leicester captain Mathew Tait admits the Tigers' pride was "certainly dented" by Aviva Premiership rivals Bath last season.

The English heavyweights clash at Welford Road on Sunday - their first meeting since Bath inflicted a 47-10 play-off drubbing on Leicester six months ago.

And it was even worse on Tigers previous' Recreation Ground visit eight months earlier as Bath romped home 45-0.

Although Leicester claimed a home win against the west country club between those landslide losses, they will not forget such crushing defeats in a hurry.

"We know Bath from the back-end of last season, so we are very aware it's going to be a huge challenge for us," Tait said.

"It's just about knowing the detail around everything we are going to do, going into the weekend, and being able to make the right decisions during the game that are going to stand us in the best possible shape to get the win.

"I wouldn't say it was all about revenge, but our pride was certainly dented on both trips down there last season, and we can use that for motivation. But as a group, it is all about making the right decisions.

"This is a completely different side now with a lot of new players, so we are set up differently now to the back-end of last season."

Leicester lock Ed Slater's first appearance of the season on Sunday is also his 100th for the Tigers, while Mike Williams and Lachlan McCaffrey return to the back-row alongside Brendon O'Connor. A reshuffled back-line includes Tait at full-back, Telusa Veainu on the wing and Peter Betham in the centre.

Scotland World Cup star David Denton, meanwhile, could make his Bath debut after being named among the replacements. Elsewhere, Matt Banahan moves from wing to centre for his 200th first team appearance, and there are starts for scrum-half Niko Matawalu, wing Horacio Agulla and former England Under-20 lock Tom Ellis.

Bath have experienced a mixed start to their Premiership campaign, but a stirring European Champions Cup victory over Leinster last weekend means they will arrive in the east midlands in decent shape.

The Leinster triumph was built on solid foundations up-front, especially Bath's front-row, with props Nick Auterac and Henry Thomas in dominant form.

Auterac had already caught the eye this season, and if he continues in his current fashion, then new England head coach Eddie Jones could be one of those taking a closer look.

"There was an opportunity to bring him to the club, which I insisted happened," Bath forwards coach Neal Hatley said, of Auterac.

"He is one of those players who just needed an opportunity, and we have provided that.

"What was so impressive for us was that he was doing it off the bench last year, and then towards the end of the season as a starter as well. For him to churn out a performance like that last weekend against Mike Ross, an experienced international, is fantastic.

"We always knew he would be a rough diamond. He is an absolute beast physically, so there is a good base to build on. I knew what was there and what he was capable of."

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