PREVIEW: Premiership, Round Six
SUNDAY SHOWDOWN: Flank Thomas Young has fond memories of the last time Wasps met Saracens but he insists it counts for nothing ahead of their first meeting of the new season.
Wasps were victorious 35-15 in front of over 30 000 fans at the Ricoh Arena back in May as Young scored a memorable hat-trick of tries.
Christian Wade and British & Irish Lion Elliot Daly also dotted down in Coventry as Wasps sealed top spot in the Premiership Rugby table, and a home semi-final, with an emphatic victory.
And while Wasps continued their impressive form at the start of the new Premiership Rugby season they have lost their last three league games.
After seeing their unbeaten home record ended by Harlequins, the Coventry-based side were beaten by champions Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park before slipping to a 9-25 defeat to Bath in Round Five.
And Young knows how important it is for Wasps to get immediately back on track against double European champions Saracens before the Champions Cup returns next week.
"I have good memories from last season but that game has gone now," Young said. "It was a massive game for us as a club to try and finish top of the league and I was lucky enough to get on the scoresheet.
"We have not quite performed like last season so we need to up our game – we know what a quality outfit Saracens are. It’s a tough league and anyone can beat anyone as we have seen in the first five rounds.
"It’s a massive game and we take one game at a time. We can’t look any further than next week, we need to put things right by doing all we can on the training pitch,"
Wasps have not lost four Premiership Rugby games in a row since March 2014 but Saracens are unbeaten in their last 17 home games in the league.
And Young knows there are plenty of areas for the injury-hit Wasps squad to improve upon before they travel down to Allianz Park on Sunday.
"Things didn’t go to plan (on Sunday) but we have had a good look at it and we know what to put right this weekend," he added.
"We’ve put last week to bed and we are looking forward to it putting things right, do (properly) what we didn’t do well.
"We kept hold of the ball well went through phases but we have to be more clinical with the ball and play in the right areas.
"We like to keep hold of the ball and we need to do that again at the weekend and turn possession into points.
"It’s the same as any other game we look at their weaknesses and strengths as coaches and players and put together a game plan. We don’t treat it any differently.
"We know how challenging it will be but Saturday can’t come around quickly enough.
"Obviously injuries don’t help but every squad has them we cannot use that as an excuse. Everyone is good enough to do a job. As a squad, we’re looking forward to putting things right,"
We take a look at the action of Round six!
Friday, October 6
Harlequins v Sale Sharks
(Twickenham Stoop - Kick-off: 19.45, 18.45 GMT)
Harlequins have slipped to successive defeats, at home to Leicester and away at Northampton. The Londoners have not lost successive Premiership Rugby encounters at Twickenham Stoop since September 2013.
Sale Sharks achieved their highest Premiership Rugby score since they beat Worcester in 2004 in overcoming Gloucester 57-10 last Friday. The Sharks have lost their last nine away games in the tournament whilst their only victory on the road since round 22 in 2015/16 was at Bristol last October.
The last four meetings between the two clubs in Premiership Rugby have all been won by the home side on the day, although Sale did win at Twickenham Stoop last season in the Anglo-Welsh Cup in February. The Sharks only success at the venue in Premiership Rugby since May 2008 came in November 2014.
Harlequins: 15 Aaron Morris, 14 Marland Yarde, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Danny Care, 8 Mat Luamanu, 7 Jack Clifford, 6 Chris Robshaw, 5 James Horwill (captain), 4 George Merrick, 3 Will Collier, 2 Dave Ward, 1 Joe Marler
Replacements: 16 Elia Elia, 17 Mark Lambert, 18 Phil Swainston, 19 Charlie Matthews, 20 Ben Glynn, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 Tim Swiel, 23 Alofa Alofa
Sale Sharks: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Denny Solomona, 13 Sam James, 12 Mark Jennings, 11 Byron McGuigan, 10 AJ MacGinty, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Josh Strauss, 7 Ben Curry, 6 Jono Ross (captain), 5 Josh Beaumont, 4 Bryn Evans, 3 Alex Tarus, 2 Marc Jones, 1 Ross Harrison
Replacements: 16 Rob Webber, 17 James Flynn, 18 Halani Auilka, 19 Andre Ostrikov, 20 TJ Ioane, 21 Cameron Neild, 22 Will Cliff, 23 James O’Connor
Referee: Matthew Carley
Assistant Referees: Adam Leal & Wayne Falla.
TMO: Stuart Terheege.
Saturday, October 7
Bath Rugby v Worcester Warriors
(Recreation Ground - Kick-off: 15.00, 14.00 GMT)
Bath Rugby return to the Recreation Ground, but two of their three victories in Premiership Rugby this season have been on the road. Bath tripped up to Newcastle in their most recent home game but have not lost successive Premiership Rugby encounters at the Recreation Ground since February 2016.
Worcester Warriors have slipped to seven straight Premiership Rugby defeats, although they have at least gained three losing bonus points in that sequence. The Warriors have lost their last fifteen away games in the competition since beating Harlequins at Twickenham Stoop in March 2016.
Worcester beat Bath 25-19 at Sixways in April to end an eight-game losing streak in this fixture. Worcester have never won in twelve previous visits to the Recreation Ground in all competitions.
Bath: 15 Anthony Watson, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Aled Brew, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Chris Cook, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Zach Mercer, 5 Elliott Stooke, 4 Charlie Ewels (captain), 3 Anthony Perenise, 2 Jack Walker, 1 Beno Obano
Replacements: 16 Tom Dunn, 17 Nick Auterac, 18 Henry Thomas, 19 James Phillips, 20 Levi Douglas, 21 Kahn Fotuali’i, 22 Josh Lewis, 23 Max Clark
Worcester: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Josh Adams, 13 Jackson Willison, 12 Ben Te’o, 11 Dean Hammond, 10 Jamie Shillcock, 9 Jonny Arr, 8 GJ van Velze, 7 Sam Lewis, 6 David Denton, 5 Will Spencer, 4 Donncha O’Callaghan (captain) 3 Biyi Alo, 2 Jack Singleton, 1 Ryan Bower
Replacements: 16 Joe Taufete’e, 17 Ethan Waller, 18 Gareth Milasinovich, 19 Christian Scotland-Williamson, 20 Alafoti Faosiliva, 21 Peter Stringer, 22 Jono Lance, 23 Wynand Olivier
Referee: Luke Pearce
Assistant Referees: Christophe Ridley & Simon McConnell.
TMO: Graham Hughes
Exeter Chiefs v Newcastle Falcons
(Sandy Park - Kick-off: 15.00, 14.00 GMT)
Both of Exeter Chiefs defeats in Premiership Rugby this season have been away from home, at Gloucester in round 1 and at Leicester last weekend. At Sandy Park the Chiefs are unbeaten in their last ten fixtures in the tournament since Bath won there 13-10 on October 30.
Newcastle Falcons have lost just one of their last seven Premiership Rugby matches: 7-29 against Saracens (in a ‘home’ game) in Philadelphia on September 16. Falcons have won their last three away games in Premiership Rugby, but have not won four in a row on the road in the tournament since they took the title in 1997/98.
Exeter have lost just once to the Falcons in Premiership Rugby: 24-29 at Kingston Park in October 2014 whilst Newcastle have never won at Exeter in any competition.
Exeter Chiefs: 15 Lachie Turner, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Ian Whitten, 11 Olly Woodburn, 10 Gareth Steenson, 9 Nic White, 8 Sam Simmonds, 7 Don Armand, 6 Sam Skinner, 5 Jonny Hill, 4 Mitch Lees, 3 Harry Williams, 2 Jack Yeandle (captain), 1 Carl Rimmer
Replacements: 16 Elvis Taione, 17 Ben Moon, 18 Tomas Francis, 19 Ollie Atkins, 20 Julian Salvi, 21 Stu Townsend, 22 Tom Hendrickson, 23 Phil Dollman
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Alex Tait, 14 DTH van der Merwe, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Vereniki Goneva, 10 Craig Willis, 9 Sonatane Takulua, 8 Nili Latu, 7 Will Welch (captain), 6 Mark Wilson, 5 Will Witty, 4 Calum Green, 3 Jon Welsh, 2 Santiago Socino, 1 Trevor Davison
Replacements: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Rob Vickers, 18 Jake Ilnicki, 19 Sean Robinson, 20 Ally Hogg, 21 Sam Stuart, 22 Toby Flood, 23 Josh Matavesi
Referee: Andrew Jackson
Assistant Referees: Jack Makepeace & Phil Watters.
TMO: Keith Lewis.
Gloucester Rugby v Northampton Saints
(Kingsholm - Kick-off: 15.00, 14.00 GMT)
Gloucester Rugby tripped up 10-57 at Sale on Friday and have only once before conceded more points in a Premiership Rugby match in going down 21-58 at Northampton in 2002. All five of Gloucester’s matches this season have gone with home field advantage, the Cherry & Whites beating Exeter and Worcester so far at Kingsholm.
Northampton Saints were bottom of the table after one round but are now top after five – the quickest turnaround in fortunes in Premiership Rugby history. The Saints only defeat in their last six Premiership Rugby matches was to Saracens at Twickenham Stadium in round 1.
Northampton are unbeaten in their last nine encounters with Gloucester in all competitions since Gloucester’s 26-24 victory at Kingsholm in Premiership Rugby in September 2013.
Gloucester: 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Henry Purdy, 13 Henry Trinder, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 David Halaifonua, 10 Owen Williams, 9 Willi Heinz (captain), 8 Ruan Ackermann 7 Jacob Rowan, 6 Lewis Ludlow, 5 Ed Slater; 4 Tom Savage, 3 John Afoa; 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Val Rapava Ruskin
Replacements: 16 Motu Matu'u, 17 Josh Hohneck, 18 Gareth Denman, 19 Jeremy Thrush, 20 Freddie Clarke, 21 Ben Vellacott, 22 Billy Burns, 23 Tom Hudson
Northampton: 15 Ahsee Tuala, 14 George North, 13 Luther Burrell, 12 Piers Francis, 11 Tom Collins, 10 Harry Mallinder, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Sam Dickinson, 7 Teimana Harrison, 6 Jamie Gibson, 5 David Ribbans, 4 Michael Paterson, 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Dylan Hartley (captain), 1 Alex Waller
Replacements: 16 Mikey Haywood, 17 Francois van Wyk, 18 Jamal Ford-Robinson, 19 Api Ratuniyarawa, 20 Courtney Lawes, 21 Alex Mitchell, 22 Stephen Myler, 23 Ben Foden
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant Referees: Hamish Smales & Jonathan Healy.
TMO: Geoff Warren.
London Irish v Leicester Tigers
(Madejski Stadium - Kick-off: 15.00, 14.00GMT)
London Irish have slipped to four straight defeats in Premiership Rugby and failed to garner any league points from the last three encounters. The Exiles have played one other game at Madejski Stadium this season, being defeated 25-40 by Northampton there in round 4.
Leicester Tigers have won their last three Premiership Rugby matches, against Gloucester, Harlequins and Exeter, but have not won four in a row in the competition since March 2015.
Leicester have lost just once to London Irish in their last fifteen meetings in all competitions: 19-22 at Welford Road in September 2014. The Tigers have won on their last seven visits to Madejski Stadium.
London Irish: 15 Tommy Bell, 14 Alex Lewington, 13 Aseli Tikoirotuma, 12 Greig Tonks, 11 Topsy Ojo, 10 James Marshall, 9 Ben Meehan, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Blair Cowan, 6 Josh McNally, 5 Sebastian de Chaves, 4 Franco van der Merwe, 3 Petrus Du Plessis, 2 David Paice (captain), 1 Ben Franks
Replacements: 16 Todd Gleave, 17 Harry Elrington, 18 Ollie Hoskins, 19 Teofilo Paulo, 20 Lasha Lomidze, 21 Scott Steele, 22 Theo Brophy Clews, 23 Tom Fowlie
Leicester Tigers: 15 Telusa Veainu, 14 Nick Malouf, 13 Gareth Owen, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Jonny May, 10 George Ford (captain), 9 Sam Harrison, 8 Valentino Mapapalangi, 7 Will Evans, 6 Sione Kalamafoni, 5 Dom Barrow, 4 Dan Tuohy, 3 Dan Cole, 2 George McGuigan, 1 Greg Bateman
Replacements: 16 Tom Youngs, 17 Ellis Genge, 18 Patrick Cilliers, 19 Harry Wells, 20 Luke Hamilton, 21 Ben Youngs, 22 Joe Ford, 23 Mathew Tait
Referee: JP Doyle
Assistant Referees: Anthony Woodthorpe & Matthew O’Grady.
TMO: David Rose.
Sunday, October 8
Saracens v Wasps
(Allianz Park - Kick-off: 15.00, 14.00 GMT)
Saracens only defeat in Premiership Rugby this season was 21-31 at Bath in round 2. Saracens are unbeaten in their last seventeen home games in Premiership Rugby since Northampton beat them at Allianz Park in March 2015, their best ever home run.
Wasps have slipped to three straight defeats in Premiership Rugby but have not lost four in a row in the tournament since March 2014. Away from home this season Wasps beat Worcester in round 2 and lost at Exeter in round 4.
Both teams won their respective home game when they met in Premiership Rugby last season, reversing the trend of 2015/16. Wasps three most recent victories on Saracens soil came at Vicarage Road in 2008, Twickenham Stadium in 2011 and Allianz Park in February 2016.
Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Liam Williams, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Brad Barritt (captain), 11 Chris Wyles, 10 Alex Lozowski, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Jackson Wray, 7 Calum Clark, 6 Maro Itoje, 5 George Kruis, 4 Nick Isiekwe, 3 Juan Figallo, 2 Jamie George, 1 Mako Vunipola
Replacements: 16 Christopher Tolofua, 17 Hayden Thompson-Stringer, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Dominic Day, 20 Joel Conlon, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Owen Farrell, 23 Duncan Taylor
Wasps: 15 Willie Le Roux, 14 Marcus Watson, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Brendan Macken, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Rob Miller, 9 Joe Simpson, 8 Thomas Young, 7 Jack Willis, 6 James Haskell, 5 Will Rowlands, 4 Marcus Garratt, 3 Marty Moore, 2 Ashley Johnson, 1 Matt Mullan (captain)
Replacements: 16 Tom Cruse, 17 Ben Harris, 18 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 19 James Gaskell, 20 Tom Willis, 21 Dan Robson, 22 Juan De Jongh, 23 Christian Wade
Referee: Ian Tempest
Assistant Referees: Paul Dix & Nigel Carrick.
TMO: Sean Davey.