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Buoyant Bath can crush fierce rivals; RUGBY UNION.

Byline: Max Oram

BATH should be backed at 10-11 with Hills and Ladbrokes to give up nine points to Gloucester in tonight's live Premiership clash at the Rec.

Steve Meehan's men thumped Sale 31-16 last Saturday to make it eight league victories on the trot in front of their fervent fans and since Bath's 24-8 December rout of the Cherry & Whites at the Rec, they have won 13 of 15 regular-season matches, eight by a double-figure margin or with a try-bonus.

After a turbulent 2009, they have rediscovered the ability to win (either expansively or tough)and Lewis Moody and Sam Vesty, the two summer signings from the champion Tigers, have slipped seamlessly into the side.

In contrast, Gloucester are a few days shy of a calendar year without a Premiership away win and their sole success in 13 trips to their fierce West Country rivals in 2008 coincided with a Butch James goal-kicking nightmare for Bath.

Keep stakes sensible, though as a gusty evening is forecast for the spa city.

Last year's meeting was 3-3 at half-time and the Cherry & Whites have plenty of grit, nous and talent both in their starting lineup and on the bench. They will gel on the road at some point.

Sale against Wasps at Stockport does not appeal on the betting front so for a second wager, take Ulster to give up nine to Glasgow at Ravenhill.

Ulster are unbeaten so far in four games this campaign, with grand final victors Ospreys the most notable scalp. They could go through the gears with Springbok Ruan Pienaar debuting at scrumhalf, Simon Danielli making his seasonal bow and Johann Muller and Robbie Diack returning to the pack after missing the 15-15 draw at Connacht.

The Warriors have won on three of their last four visits to Belfast and did the double over their hosts last season on the way to the semi-finals.

But Sean Lineen's side have understandably had trouble filing the voids created by the summer exits of Dan Parks and Kelly Brown and the retirement of Thom Evans.

They have lost three of four games this campaign and won only once on the road in the league since early January.

Again, keep stakes sensible as although a blowy Belfast evening should favour the home side, it could make it a game of two halves.

Recommendations Bath -9 1pt 10-11 Hills, Ladbrokes Ulster -9 1pt 5-6 Stan James
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 1, 2010
Words:404
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