IN THE SHADOW OF TEST RUGBY: Having heartily sunk their teeth into the Anglo-Welsh Cup over recent weeks, the Premiership clubs can now look forward to reacquainting themselves with league action.
With a mere three points separating six teams in Premiership, we go into a crucial period for the competition - at the height of the November international season.
With Round Eight, nine and ten in quick succession there is the opportunity for the whole complexion of the table to change before we reached the halfway point in the League.
We kick off at Kingsholm where Karl Dickson will make history, finishing with a compelling triple-bill on Sunday.
Round Eight kicks off on Friday with the first of two intriguing clashes.
On Friday Gloucester roll out the red carpet for Saracens at Kingsholm.
Gloucester, who go into Round Eight eighth in the table, will come in with heaps of confidence, having scored seven tries - all coming from different scorers - as they brushed aside London Irish 47-7 in the Anglo-Welsh Cup last time out. They also edged out West Country rivals Bath 22-21 in their last league game in late October.
Saracens, meanwhile, have suffered back-to-back cup defeats at the hands of Sale Sharks and Harlequins, but they top the Premiership table having won six of their opening seven matches.
On Sunday, Exeter Chiefs and Harlequins meet at Sandy Park.
Reigning Premiership Champions Exeter, who are two points behind Saracens, have won their last six games in all competitions, including a 40-0 win over Scarlets in the cup last weekend.
We look at all the Round Eight action!
Friday, November 10
Gloucester v Saracens
(Kingsholm - Kick-off: 19.45; 19.45 GMT)
Gloucester's only defeat in their last four Premiership matches was 10-57 at Sale in round five.
The Cherry & Whites have won all five home games they have played at Kingsholm in all tournaments this year.
Saracens only defeat in Premiership this season came on a visit to Bath in Round Two.
Saracens three game away winning run in all tournaments ended at Sale in the Anglo-Welsh Cup on Friday.
Gloucester won the most recent encounter between the two sides 31-23 at Kingsholm in Premiership in February to end a run of three successive defeats to Saracens.
Saracens have won on three of their last six visits to Kingsholm in Premiership.
Karl Dickson becomes the first former Premiership rugby player to referee a match in the competition.
Gloucester: 15 Tom Hudson, 14 Ollie Thorley, 13 Billy Twelvetrees, 12 Andy Symons, 11 Henry Trinder, 10 Billy Burns, 9 Willi Heinz (captain), 8 Ruan Ackermann, 7 Lewis Ludlow, 6 Freddie Clarke, 5 Ed Slater, 4 Tom Savage, 3 John Afoa, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Josh Hohneck.
Replacements: 16 James Hanson, 17 Val Rapava Ruskin, 18 Gareth Denman, 19 Jeremy Thrush, 20 Jake Polledri, 21 Ben Vellacott, 22 Mark Atkinson, 23 Henry Purdy.
Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Nick Tompkins, 12 Brad Barritt (captain), 11 Chris Wyles, 10 Alex Lozowski, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Jackson Wray, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Calum Clark, 5 George Kruis, 4 Will Skelton, 3 Juan Figallo, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Richard Barrington.
Replacements: 16 Christopher Tolofua, 17 Hayden Thompson-Stringer, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Nick Isiekwe, 20 Joel Conlon, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Marcelo Bosch, 23 Nathan Earle.
Referee: Karl Dickson
Assistant Referees: Peter Allan & Jack Makepeace.
TMO: David Rose
Saturday, November 18
Worcester Warriors v Northampton Saints
(Sixways - Kick-off: 13.00; 13.00 GMT)
Worcester Warriors' only victory in any competition in the last seven months was 30-20 at home to Brive in the European Challenge Cup on 14 October.
The Warriors most recent victory in Premiership was against Bath at Sixways in April.
Northampton Saints have slipped to two straight defeats in Premiership, at Gloucester and at home to Wasps.
The Saints only victory on the road in any tournament since March was 40-25 at London Irish on 24 September.
Northampton have lost just one of their last nine encounters with Worcester: 12-13 at Sixways in October 2013.
The Saints have won on three of their last four visits to Warriors.
Worcester Warriors: TBC
Northampton Saints: TBC
Referee: Andrew Jackson
Assistant Referees: Paul Burton & Philip Watters.
TMO: David Sainsbury
Wasps v Newcastle Falcons
(Ricoh Arena - Kick-off: 17.15; 17.15 GMT)
Wasps' 38-22 victory at Northampton in Round Seven of Premiership ended a four game losing run in the tournament.
Wasps have won only one of their last four games at Ricoh Arena: 41-10 over Harlequins in Round Two of the European Champions Cup.
Newcastle Falcons have lost just one of their last five first team matches: 13-30 at home to Leicester in Round Seven of Premiership.
The Falcons were defeated 24-34 on their visit to Exeter in Round Six to end a run of three successive away victories in the competition.
Newcastle have already visited Ricoh Arena this season, winning 53-41 in Round One of the Anglo-Welsh Cup, however the Falcons have not beaten Wasps anywhere in the Premiership since a trip to Adams Park in May 2012.
Newcastle Falcons: TBC
Referee: Matthew O'Grady
Assistant Referees: Anthony Woodthorpe & Dean Richards.
TMO: Trevor Fisher.
Sunday, November 19
Exeter Chiefs v Harlequins
(Sandy Park - Kick-off: 15.00; 15.00 GMT)
Exeter Chiefs solitary defeat in any competition since 1 September was 13-20 at Leicester in Round Five of Premiership.
The Devonians are unbeaten at Sandy Park since Bordeaux were the visitors in the European Champions Cup in December 2016.
Harlequins have won their last two Premiership encounters, both at Twickenham Stoop, scoring five tries each against Sale and Worcester.
The Londoners have not won three successive Premiership matches since May 2014.
Harlequins only away win in the tournament since March was 24-21 at Wasps in round three.
The Chiefs have won their last six fixtures against Harlequins in Premiership since ‘Quins 30-29 win at Sandy Park on 4 May 2014.
Exeter Chiefs: TBC
Referee: JP Doyle
Assistant Referees: Adam Leal & Jonathan Healy.
TMO: Stuart Terheege
Leicester Tigers v Sale Sharks
(Welford Road - Kick-off: 15.00; 15.00 GMT)
Leicester Tigers have won their last five Premiership matches since their 11-24 reversal at Northampton on 9 September.
The Tigers have won their last four matches at Welford Road in all competitions since Bath beat them there in Round One of Premiership.
Sale Sharks have won their last two matches, both in the Anglo-Welsh Cup, against Worcester and Saracens, but in Premiership their only victory in the last four rounds was 57-10 at home to Gloucester on 29 September.
The Sharks have lost their last ten away games in Premiership, their worst ever such run in the tournament.
The Tigers 41-18 win against the Sharks at Welford Road in April ended a three game losing run to Sale.
The Sharks have won just once at Welford Road since February 2008: 10-3 almost eight years later.
Leicester Tigers: TBC
Sale Sharks: TBC
Referee: Luke Pearce
Assistant Referees: Hamish Smales & Nigel Carrick.
TMO: Sean Davey
London Irish v Bath
(Madejski Stadium - Kick-off: 15.00; 15.00 GMT)
London Irish have won only once in any competition since Round One of Premiership, 44-7 away at Stade Francais in Round Two of the European Challenge Cup.
The Exiles most recent victory at Madejski Stadium was 55-48 again Yorkshire Carnegie in the second leg of last season's RFU Championship Final.
Bath have lost just one of their last seven first team matches, and that by a single point at home to Gloucester in Round Seven of Premiership.
Bath's only defeat on the road in any tournament this season came on a trip to Northampton in Premiership in September.
Bath have lost only once to London Irish in their last 13 Premiership matches, 22-29 at Madejski Stadium in September 2012.
London Irish: TBC
Referee: Thomas Foley
Assistant Referees: Paul Dix & Wayne Falla.
TMO: Keith Lewis
PREMIERSHIP ROUND EIGHT WRAP: Bryce Heem's hat-trick earned Worcester Warriors their first Premiership win of the season while Christian Wade's double helped Wasps to six-try win over Newcastle Falcons.
Saturday's scores and scorers!
Worcester Warriors 30-15 Northampton Saints
Stephen Myler's penalty opened the scoring, but the home side were soon lifted by the Sixways crowds and Heem went over twice in 10 minutes.
Josh Adams looked particularly lethal all afternoon and the left wing was finally rewarded with a second-half score. Ben Foden and Reece Marshall crossed the whitewash too, but they could not stop Saints suffering a third consecutive Premiership defeat.
With a host of players returning from injury, Worcester looked like a side renewed by the recent break from Premiership action.
A sudden burst of intensity saw returning Worcester centre Ryan Mills open up the Saints defence, allowing Heem to go over. The hosts continued to make their try-scoring intentions clear, kicking a penalty to the corner as the end of the first half drew near.
And after almost five minutes of scrummaging, the ball swung left, making space for Heem to charge over once more.
Myler attempted a kick from over 40 metres out to narrow the gap before half-time, but it was not to be and Warriors went in with a 12-point lead, looking ready to claim their first victory over Northampton since October 2013.
This lead was soon extended when Adams, who had been keeping Ken Pisi on his toes all game, tore down the left wing to claim five more points for Gary Gold's side.
Replacements Foden and Marshall reined in Worcester's advantage in the second half, but Heem barrelled over once more to seal the bonus point for Warriors.
For Worcester Warriors:
Tries: Heem 3, Adams
Cons: Lance, Pennell
Pens: Lance 2
For Northampton Saints:
Tries: Foden, Gibson
Yellow card: Rob Horne (Northampton Saints, 28)
Red card: Rob Horne (Northampton Saints, 83)
Worcester Warriors: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Bryce Heem, 13 Jackson Willison, 12 Ryan Mills, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Jono Lance, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 GJ van Velze, 7 Sam Lewis, 6 Alafoti Faosiliva, 5 Will Spencer, 4 Donncha O'Callaghan (captain), 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Jack Singleton, 1 Ethan Waller.
Replacements: 16 Matti Williams, 17 Ryan Bower, 18 Gareth Milasinovich, 19 Pierce Phillips, 20 Christian Scotland-Williamson, 21 Michael Dowsett, 22 Sam Olver, 23 Dean Hammond.
Northampton Saints: 15 Harry Mallinder, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 Rob Horne, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 Tom Collins, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Teimana Harrison, 7 Jamie Gibson, 6 Tom Wood, 5 Sam Dickinson (captain), 4 Michael Paterson, 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Mikey Haywood, 1 Alex Waller.
Replacements: 16 Reece Marshall, 17 Francois van Wyk, 18 Jamal Ford-Robinson, 19 Alex Moon, 20 Mitch Eadie, 21 Nic Groom, 22 Piers Francis, 23 Ben Foden.
Referee: Andrew Jackson
Assistant referees: Paul Burton, Philip Watters
TMO: David Sainsbury
Wasps 40-10 Newcastle Falcons
Wade's scores came early in the first half and were followed up by a lung-busting score from the returning Kyle Eastmond. Sean Robinson responded with a first-half try for the Falcons, backed up by five points from the boot of Toby Flood.
But the home side turned up the heat in the second period and tries for James Haskell, Gaby Lovobalavu and Josh Bassett put the result beyond doubt.
Wasps director of rugby Dai Young welcomed back Eastmond, Lovobalavu and Kearnan Myall to his squad to help ease an injury crisis, and had the best possible start with Wade's first try the result of a sublime Jimmy Gopperth offload.
After Toby Flood's penalty got the visitors underway, Willie le Roux's arcing break left Wade with the simplest of finishes for his second.
The third try was a brilliant solo effort from Eastmond, playing his first game since February. The England centre stepped his way past Newcastle's defence before accelerating 30 metres to mark his return from serious injury.
Josh Matavesi's powerful break resulted in lock Sean Robinson's score for Newcastle, which took the score to 19-10 at the break.
Haskell's converted try immediately after the restart extended the hosts lead, and a long-range strike from Lovobalavu, who got on the end of Joe Simpson's 50-metre break, extended it even further.
There was still time for Bassett to race away for a try from distance of his own, leaving the Falcons scoreless in the second half.
Tries: Wade 2, Eastmond, Haskell, Lovobalavu, Bassett
Cons: Gopperth 5
For Newcastle Falcons:
Wasps: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Juan De Jongh, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Guy Thompson, 7 Thomas Young, 6 James Haskell, 5 James Gaskell, 4 Will Rowlands, 3 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 2 Ashley Johnson (captain), 1 Simon McIntyre.
Replacements: 16 Nathan Charles, 17 Ben Harris, 18 Marty Moore, 19 Kearnan Myall, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Joe Simpson, 22 Rob Miller, 23 Gabiriele Lovobalavu.
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Alex Tait, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Josh Matavesi, 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Toby Flood, 9 Sam Stuart, 8 Mark Wilson, 7 Gary Graham, 6 Will Welch (captain), 5 Sean Robinson, 4 Calum Green, 3 Jon Welsh, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Rob Vickers.
Replacements: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Sami Mavinga, 18 Scott Wilson, 19 Will Witty, 20 Nili Latu, 21 Joel Hodgson, 22 Juan Pablo Socino, 23 Belisario Agulla.
Referee: Matthew O'Grady
Assistant Referees: Anthony Woodthorpe & Dean Richards.
TMO: Trevor Fisher