Preview: Premiership, Round Seven
BACK WITH A VENGEANCE: After an intriguing opening two rounds of European action, the Premiership returns with a bang as the exciting 2017/18 campaign gets back underway.
And what a mouth-watering prospect we have in store to welcome everyone back with Sunday marking the first West Country derby of the season as Bath Rugby welcome local rivals Gloucester Rugby to The Rec.
It is a fixture that Bath has enjoyed more often than not in recent years, having lost just one of their last ten Premiership Rugby encounters with the Cherry & Whites, while they have also won their last four matches in all competitions.
Sunday also sees fourth-placed Newcastle Falcons host sixth-placed Leicester Tigers, while the action kicks off on Friday night as Sale Sharks welcome an Exeter Chiefs side to the AJ Bell Stadium following the defending Premiership Rugby champions beating Montpellier 27-24 in France.
Meanwhile, there are three enthralling games to keep you occupied on Saturday with Saracens hosting London Irish looking to stay top of the table.
We take a look at all the action!
Friday, October 27
Sale Sharks v Exeter Chiefs
(AJ Bell Stadium - Kick-off: 19.45, 18.45 GMT)
Sale Sharks’ two victories in Premiership Rugby this season were both at home, against London Irish in round 3 and Gloucester in round 5. The Sharks have lost just once at AJ Bell Stadium in any competition since March, and that by a solitary point to Newcastle in Premiership Rugby on September 8.
Exeter Chiefs have lost just twice in any tournament so far this season, both away from home, to Gloucester and to Leicester in Premiership Rugby.
Exeter has lost only one of their last five encounters with the Sharks: 17- 23 at AJ Bell Stadium in February 2016.
Sale Sharks: 15 Will Addison (captain), 14 Denny Solomona, 13 Sam James, 12 Mark Jennings, 11 Byron McGuigan, 10 James O'Connor, 9 Francois de Klerk, 8 Josh Strauss, 7 Tom Curry, 6 Jono Ross, 5 Andrei Ostrikov, 4 Bryn Evans, 3 WillGriff John, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Ross Harrison.
Replacements: 16 Marc Jones, 17 James Flynn, 18 Halani Aulika, 19 George Nott, 20 TJ Ioane, 21 Cameron Neild, 22 Will Cliff, 23 Mike Haley.
Exeter Chiefs: 15 Phil Dollman, 14 Lachie Turner, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Ian Whitten, 11 James Short, 10 Gareth Steenson, 9 Nic White, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Sam Simmonds, 6 Don Armand, 5 Ollie Atkins, 4 Mitch Lees, 3 Harry Williams, 2 Jack Yeandle (captain), 1 Carl Rimmer.
Replacements: 16 Elvis Taione, 17 Alec Hepburn, 18 Tomas Francis, 19 Jonny Hill, 20 Sam Skinner, 21 Stuart Townsend, 22 Tom Hendrickson, 23 Tom O'Flaherty.
Referee: Craig Maxwell
Assistant Referees: Jack Makepeace & Wayne Falla.
TMO: Trevor Fisher
Saturday, October 28
Harlequins v Worcester Warriors
(Twickenham Stoop - Kick-off: 15.00, 14.00)
Harlequins only victory in their last five matches in all tournaments was 42- 26 at home to Sale Sharks in round 6 of Premiership Rugby. ‘Quins have lost four times at Twickenham Stoop in Premiership Rugby since March 2016 – twice to Exeter and twice to Leicester.
Worcester Warriors only victory in any tournament since April was 30-20 at home to Brive in the first round of this season’s European Challenge Cup. The Warriors most recent victory in Premiership Rugby was 25-19 over Bath at Sixways on 15 April, whilst they have not won away from home in the competition since they visited Harlequins in March 2016. Worcester have won two of their last three fixtures against Harlequins in Premiership Rugby.
Worcester Warriors: TBC
Referee: JP Doyle
Assistant Referees: Jonathan Healy & Nigel Carrick.
TMO: David Grashoff.
Northampton Saints v Wasps
(Franklin’s Gardens - Kick-off: 15.00, 14.00)
Northampton Saints have slipped to three straight defeats in all competitions since beating Harlequins 30-22 at Franklin’s Gardens at the end of September.
The Saints have lost just once at home in Premiership Rugby since November: 31-36 to Leicester in March.
Wasps ended a five-game losing run with their 41-10 victory over Harlequins at Coventry in the European Champions Cup on Sunday. Wasps only away victory so far this campaign came at Worcester in round 2 of Premiership Rugby.
Wasps have won their last four encounters with the Saints including two successive victories at Franklin’s Gardens – their first successes at the venue since 2005
Northampton Saints: TBC
Referee: Luke Pearce
Assistant Referees: Adam Leal & Simon McConnell.
TMO: Geoff Warren
Saracens v London Irish
(Allianz Park - Kick-off: 15.00, 14.00 GMT)
Saracens only defeat in any tournament this season was 21-31 at Bath in round 2 of Premiership Rugby. Saracens are unbeaten at Allianz Park in the tournament since Northampton were the visitors in March 2016
London Irish ended a six-game losing run with their 44-7 victory over Stade Francais in Paris in the European Challenge Cup last weekend. The Exiles have not won away from home in Premiership Rugby since a trip to London Welsh’s Kassam Park in February 2015.
Saracens have won their last four encounters with London Irish since the Exiles 22-13 victory at Allianz Park in Premiership Rugby in February 2014.
London Irish: TBC
Referee: Andrew Jackson
Assistant Referees: Paul Burton & Roy Maybank.
TMO: David Sainsbury.
Sunday, October 29
Bath Rugby v Gloucester Rugby
(Recreation Ground - Kick-off: 15.00, 14.00GMT)
Bath have won their last four matches in all competitions since they lost by the odd point in 65 at home to Newcastle in round 4 of Premiership Rugby, Bath’s only defeat at the Recreation Ground in any competition since March.
All eight of Gloucester Rugby’s fixtures this season have gone the way of the home side on the day. Gloucester has not won away from home since they visited La Rochelle in the semi-final of last year’s European Challenge Cup, whilst their most recent victory on the road in Premiership Rugby was on a trip to Bristol on 24 March.
Bath’s only defeat in their last ten Premiership Rugby encounters with Cherry & Whites was 11-15 at the Recreation Ground in February 2016
Referee: Tom Foley
Assistant Referees: Anthony Woodthorpe & Paul Dix.
TMO: Stuart Terheege
Newcastle Falcons v Leicester Tigers
(Kingston Park, - Kick-off: 15.00, 14.00GMT)
Referee Wayne Barnes equals Chris White’s all-time record of 190 Premiership Rugby matches in charge of the whistle.
Newcastle Falcons have lost just twice in any competition this season, both in Premiership Rugby, to Saracens in Philadelphia in round 3 and at Exeter in round 6.
The Falcons have won their last five matches at Kingstone Park in all tournaments since losing there 27-35 to Saracens in Premiership Rugby in early March.
Leicester Tigers solitary reversal in their last six encounters was 18-22 to Racing 92 in the Champions Cup in Paris on 14 October. The Tigers have won their last two away games in Premiership Rugby, at Harlequins and at London Irish, but have not won three in a row on their travels in the tournament since March 2014.
Leicester have been defeated just once in their last fourteen Premiership Rugby fixtures with the Falcons: 14-26 at Kingston Park in February 2016.
Newcastle Falcons: TBC
Leicester Tigers: TBC
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant Referees: Peter Allan & Hamish Smales.
TMO: Sean Davey