International stars return for Midlands derby

Tue, 28 Nov 2017 12:42

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Fans might still be recovering from some huge shocks in Round Nine of the Premiership, but before you know it Round 10 will be upon us and a tantalising midlands derby awaits.

Ever since Wasps changed their address to the Ricoh Arena, clashes against Leicester Tigers have taken on a whole new meaning - deciding who gets the bragging rights in the region.

The pair meet again in Coventry for this Saturday's late kick-off, and both sides will be bolstered by returning internationals.

Here we take a look at how both sides are shaping up ahead of the game.

Last weekend was a real coupon-buster in the Premiership with huge away wins for Gloucester at Newcastle Falcons and for Exeter Chiefs at Saracens.

But the most eye-catching result of all was Worcester Warriors' incredible 31-27 victory at Welford Road - the Warriors' second win in a row and their first ever at the home of the Leicester Tigers.

The match represented the oval-ball game at its best with huge amounts of drama, some scintillating rugby and a try-of-the-season contender.

Matt O'Connor's side have been on a terrific run of late, winning six the Premiership matches in a row before the defeat to Worcester, and they'll be pleased to welcome back England stars Ben Youngs, George Ford, Ellis Genge, Jonny May and Dan Cole on Saturday.

Ford has had an excellent season so far and continued that in England colours in November, starting all three matches at flyhalf for Eddie Jones and co-captaining the side in the 48-14 win over Samoa.

May has also enjoyed a superb start to the campaign and maintained his prolific try-scoring form with a classy finish against Australia a few weeks ago.

Youngs has been at his threatening best during the autumn internationals and the return of props Cole and Genge will be crucial against Wasps - with the pair operating as the cornerstone of Tigers' pack in 2017.

Wasps Director of Rugby Dai Young will no doubt be delighted to welcome back senior players Elliot Daly and Joe Launchbury in time for this weekend, with both players impressing on England duty over the autumn.

There is a concern over Launchbury's fitness, with Wasps' talismanic skipper leaving the field injured against Samoa having suffered a shoulder injury, not thought to be too serious at this stage.

The giant lock has had a fantastic November wearing the Red Rose, winning the man-of-the-match award against Australia and being noticeably missed in driving mauls on Saturday after leaving the field injured.

His teammate Daly is perhaps the England player who impressed most over the three matches, the outside back grabbing the crucial try against Australia and helping himself to two more against Samoa.

It looks unlikely that Nathan Hughes will regain fitness in time to take on the Tigers, but the black-and-golds are in terrific form, beating London Irish 17-13 over the weekend to back up wins over Newcastle and Northampton Saints.

Saturday's match is a difficult one to predict but Wasps could overtake Leicester if they can get the victory - but an intense game of rugby is guaranteed.

Source: @premrugby

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FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Fri, 15 December 2017
Ulster v Harlequins 19h45 Kingspan Stadium
Sat, 16 December 2017
Montpellier v Glasgow Warriors 13h00 Altrad Stadium
Treviso v Scarlets 13h00 Stadio Comunale di Monigo
Leinster v Exeter Chiefs 15h15 Aviva Stadium
Racing Metro v Castres 15h15 Stade Yves-du-Manoir
Bath v Toulon 17h30 Recreation Ground
Sun, 17 December 2017
Wasps v La Rochelle 13h00 Ricoh Arena
Clermont Auvergne v Saracens 15h15 Stade Marcel-Michelin
Ospreys v Northampton Saints 15h15 Liberty Stadium
Leicester Tigers v Munster 17h30 Welford Road
RESULT SCORE
Mon, 11 December 2017
Saracens v Clermont Auvergne 14 | 46
Sun, 10 December 2017
Exeter Chiefs v Leinster 8 | 18
Harlequins v Ulster 5 | 17
La Rochelle v Wasps 49 | 29
Sat, 09 December 2017
Munster v Leicester Tigers 33 | 10
Castres v Racing Metro 16 | 13
Northampton Saints v Ospreys 32 | 43
Toulon v Bath 24 | 20
Scarlets v Treviso 33 | 28
Fri, 08 December 2017
Glasgow Warriors v Montpellier 22 | 29
Sun, 03 December 2017
Harlequins v Saracens 20 | 19
Sat, 02 December 2017
Cheetahs v Scarlets 28 | 21
Munster v Ospreys 36 | 10
Wasps v Leicester Tigers 32 | 25
Treviso v Leinster 10 | 36
PREMIERSHIP
MORE LOGS
Team P W D L Pts
Exeter Chiefs 10 8 0 2 40
Gloucester 10 7 0 3 32
Saracens 10 6 0 4 31
Bath 10 6 0 4 30
Wasps 10 6 0 4 29
Leicester Tigers 10 6 0 4 28
Harlequins 10 5 0 5 24
Newcastle Falcons 10 5 0 5 24
Sale Sharks 10 4 0 6 23
Northampton Saints 10 4 0 6 22
Worcester Warriors 10 2 0 8 14
London Irish 10 1 0 9 8