Premiership, Round One - Teams and Predictions
NO SARACENS: The dawn of a new Premiership season is upon us as we prepare for six compelling league fixtures this weekend.
Fittingly the champions Exeter Chiefs kick off the new season. The Chiefs are fresh from a prestigious European Champions Cup/domestic league double only the sixth club ever to do this, following Toulouse, Leicester, Wasps, Toulon and Saracens.
The Premiership welcomes the Newcastle Falcons back as they kick off their return with a trip to the Recreation Ground to take on Stuart Hooper’s Bath.
We take a look at all Round One’s fixtures!
Friday, November 20:
Harlequins v Exeter Chiefs
(Twickenham Stoop, London – Kick-off: 19.45; 19.45 GMT)
Harlequins last five Premiership matches have all been won by the away side on the day. ‘Quins record at Twickenham Stoop since the return to rugby is won three, lost two. Exeter Chiefs begin the defence of their Premiership Rugby title won less than a month ago at Twickenham Stadium. The Chiefs finished off the regular season in 2019-20 with three straight defeats but have not lost four in succession (excluding play-offs) since 2015. The Chiefs have not won away from home since beating Northampton Saints at Franklin’s Gardens on September 4. The last four fixtures between the two clubs in Premiership Rugby have all been won by the home side on the day whilst Exeter’s most recent victory at The Stoop came in May 2018.
Prediction: Exeter Chiefs by five points.
Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Nathan Earle, 13 Luke Northmore, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Cadan Murley, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Danny Care, 8 Alex Dombrandt, 7 Will Evans, 6 Tom Lawday, 5 Stephan Lewies (captain), 4 Matt Symons, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Santiago Garcia Botta.
Replacements: 16 Jack Musk, 17 Jordan Els, 18 Simon Kerrod, 19 Glen Young, 20 Archie White, 21 Jack Stafford, 22 Ben Tapuai, 23 Tyrone Green.
Exeter: 15 Facundo Cordero, 14 Tom O’Flaherty, 13 Ian Whitten, 12 Ollie Devoto, 11 Olly Woodburn, 10 Joe Simmonds, 9 Jack Maunder, 8 Sam Simmonds, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Dave Ewers, 5 Don Armand, 4 Will Witty, 3 Harry Williams, 2 Jack Yeandle (captain), 1 Alec Hepburn.
Replacements: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Ben Moon, 18 Marcus Street, 19 Tom Price, 20 Richard Capstick, 21 Stu Townsend, 22 Harvey Skinner, 23 Tom Hendrickson.
Referee: Christophe Ridley
Assistant Referees: Jamie Leahy, Paul Dix
TMO: Geoff Warren
Sale Sharks v Northampton Saints
(AJ Bell Stadium, Manchester – Kick-off: 20.00; 20.00 GMT)
Sale Sharks have lost just one of their last seven first team matches (excluding the nil-20 defeat in the Round 22 match at home to Worcester that was never played). The Sharks have lost just twice at AJ Bell Stadium since rugby resumed, against Exeter Chiefs in August and Bath in September. Sale have won just once in Round One of the Premiership in the last nine seasons: 22-16 at Gloucester in 2013. Northampton Saints have lost their last seven first team matches (excluding the Round 22 cancellation at Gloucester) since beating London Irish at Twickenham Stoop in August. Northampton beat Saracens on the opening weekend last season to end a run of four successive Round One defeats. Sale have lost just one of their last six Premiership Rugby fixtures against Northampton, 1767 at Franklin’s Gardens in February 2019. Saints have not won at AJ Bell Stadium in Premiership Rugby since March 2017.
Prediction: Sale Sharks by 10 points.
Sale: 15 Luke James, 14 Denny Solomona, 13 Sam James, 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11 Simon Hammersley, 10 AJ MacGinty, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Ben Curry, 6 Jono Ross (captain) 5 Jean-Luc du Preez, 4 Cobus Wiese, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Akker van der Merwe, 1 Valery Morozov.
Replacements: 16 Curtis Langdon, 17 Bevan Rodd, 18 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 19 James Phillips, 20 Matt Postlethwaite, 21 Will Cliff, 22 Rob du Preez, 23 Marland Yarde.
Northampton: 15 George Furbank, 14 Ahsee Tuala, 13 Matt Proctor, 12 Piers Francis, 11 Tom Collins, 10 James Grayson, 9 Henry Taylor, 8 Teimana Harrison, 7 Tom Wood, 6 Nick Isiekwe, 5 Api Ratuniyarawa, 4 Alex Moon, 3 Paul Hill, 2 James Fish, 1 Alex Waller (captain).
Replacements: 16 Reece Marshall, 17 Nick Auterac, 18 Owen Franks, 19 David Ribbans, 20 JJ Tonks, 21 Alex Mitchell, 22 Fraser Dingwall, 23 Harry Mallinder.
Referee: Ian Tempest
Assistant Referees: Hamish Smales, Wayne Falla
TMO: Trevor Fisher
Saturday, November 21:
Bath v Newcastle Falcons
(Recreation Ground, Bath – Kick-off: 12.30; 12.30 GMT)
Bath’s only regular season defeat in the last nine rounds of Premiership was 23-27 at home to Wasps on August 31. Bath have slipped to opening weekend defeats in each of the past two seasons, both encounters being away trips to Bristol Bears. Newcastle Falcons return to the Premiership after a one-year absence having won every game they played in level two last season. The Falcons have lost their last five Premiership fixtures since beating Sale in the ‘Big One’ at St James’ Park in March 2019. Bath beat Newcastle in their most recent Premiership clash at the Recreation Ground in February 2019 to end a four-game losing run to the Tynesiders.
Prediction: Bath by 12 points.
Bath: 15 Tom de Glanville, 14 Ruaridh McConnochie, 13 Cameron Redpath, 12 Josh Matavesi, 11 Joe Cokanasiga, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Ben Spencer, 8 Zach Mercer, 7 Miles Reid, 6 Mike Williams, 5 Will Spencer, 4 Josh McNally (captain), 3 Henry Thomas, 2 Jack Walker, 1 Lewis Boyce
Replacements: 16 Ross Batty, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Christian Judge, 19 Charlie Ewels, 20 Josh Bayliss, 21 Will Chudley, 22 Max Clark, 23 Semesa Rokoduguni
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Tom Penny, 14 Adam Radwan, 13 Luther Burrell, 12 Toby Flood, 11 Ben Stevenson, 10 Brett Connon, 9 Michael Young (captain), 8 Gary Graham, 7 Connor Collett, 6 Sean Robinson, 5 Marco Fuser, 4 Greg Peterson, 3 Logovi’i Mulipola, 2 George McGuigan, 1 Trevor Davison
Replacements: 16 Jamie Blamire, 17 Adam Brocklebank, 18 Mark Tampin, 19 Rob Farrar, 20 Josh Basham, 21 Sam Stuart, 22 Joel Hodgson, 23 Pete Lucock
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Assistant Referees: Philip Watters & Robert Warburton
TMO: David Rose
Leicester Tigers v Gloucester
(Welford Road, Leicester – Kick-off: 15.00; 15.00 GMT)
This is Leicester Tigers 2 500th first team game at their famous old ground, Welford Road. Appropriately Saturday’s’s opponents Gloucester were the 9th visitors to the venue after it opened back in 1892. Tigers only victory in the last five rounds of the Premiership was 28-24 over Northampton Saints on 13 September. Leicester have been defeated in their Round One fixture for the past three seasons. Not counting Gloucester’s ‘declared victory’ over Northampton Saints in Round 22 which was never played, the Cherry & Whites have lost their last three 80-minute matches in the Premiership since beating London Irish at Kingsholm on 5 September. Gloucester’s only away win in any competition in the past twelve months was on a visit to Worcester in Round 14 of Gallagher Premiership Rugby. The last eight fixtures between the two clubs in all tournaments have been won by the home side on the day whilst Gloucester’s most recent success at Welford Road came in October 2007.
Prediction: Tigers by four points.
Leicester Tigers: 15 Freddie Steward, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Jaco Taute, 12 Guy Porter, 11 Harry Potter, 10 Zack Henry, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Tommy Reffell, 6 Hanro Liebenberg, 5 Calum Green, 4 Harry Wells, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tom Youngs (captain), 1 Facundo Gigena
Replacements: 16 Charlie Clare, 17 Ryan Bower, 18 Joe Heyes, 19 Cameron Henderson, 20 Cyle Brink, 21 Ben White, 22 Joaquin Diaz Bonilla, 23 Dan Kelly
Gloucester: 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Billy Twelvetrees, 12 Mark Atkinson, 11 Matt Banahan, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Joe Simpson, 8 Ruan Ackermann, 7 Lewis Ludlow (captain), 6 Jordy Reid, 5 Matt Garvey, 4 Ed Slater, 3 Jack Stanley, 2 James Hanson, 1 Val Rapava-Ruskin
Replacements: 16 Henry Walker, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Jamal Ford-Robinson, 19 Jamie Gibson, 20 Freddie Clarke, 21 Will Flinn, 22 Lloyd Evans, 23 Tom Seabrook
Referee: Jack Makepeace
Assistant Referees: Ian Tempest & Simon McConnell
TMO: Stuart Terheege
Worcester Warriors v London Irish
(Sixways, Worcester – Kick-off: 15.00; 15.00 GMT)
Worcester have ‘won’ their last three Premiership fixtures, although the last of those was a declared 20-nil victory away at Sale in Round 22 game that was not played. The Warriors have won two of their last three fixtures at Sixways beating Harlequins and Saracens but slipping up at home to Bristol Bears. London Irish have won just once since February; 22-19 at Exeter in Round 21 of the Premiership. The Exiles have been victorious on the opening weekend for the past two seasons that they have been involved in the Premiership. Worcester have lost just one of their last five matches against London Irish: 9-22 at Madejski Stadium in February 2018 whilst the Exiles most recent success at Sixways came in September 2013.
Prediction: Worcester Warriors by 11 points.
Worcester Warriors: 15 Melani Nanai, 14 Tom Howe, 13 Oli Morris, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Nick David, 10 Billy Searle, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Marco Mama, 7 Ted Hill (captain), 6 Joe Batley, 5 Andrew Kitchener, 4 Anton Bresler, 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Niall Annett, 1 Ethan Waller
Replacements: 16 Beck Cutting, 17 Callum Black, 18 Richard Palframan, 19 George Merrick, 20 Matt Kvesic, 21 Gareth Simpson, 22 Jamie Shillcock, 23 Ashley Beck
London Irish: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Ben Loader, 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Billy Meakes, 11 Ollie Hassell-Collins, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Ben Meehan, 8 Matt Rogerson, 7 Sean O’Brien, 6 Ben Donnell, 5 Andrei Mahu, 4 George Nott, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Motu Matu’u, 1 Harry Elrington
Replacements: 16 Agustin Creevy, 17 Allan Dell, 18 Ollie Hoskins, 19 Chunya Munga, 20 Blair Cowan, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Theo Brophy Clews, 23 Tom Parton
Referee: Adam Leal
Assistant Referees: Anthony Woodthorpe & Roy Maybank
TMO: David Grashoff
Sunday, November 22:
Wasps v Bristol Bears
(Ricoh Arena, Coventry – Kick-off: 13.00; 13.00 GMT)
Wasps seven game winning run in the Premiership ended in their 13-19 reversal in the Final against Exeter at Twickenham Stadium four weeks ago. Wasps only defeat at the Ricoh Arena since January was when Sale were the visitors on August 25. Bristol Bears only defeat in their last six first team matches was to today’s opponents Wasps at Ricoh Arena in last season’s semifinal. Bristol have been victorious in Round One for the past two seasons. Wasps have won their last ten Premiership fixtures against Bristol and are unbeaten in their last fourteen such encounters since the Bears 26-21 victory at Memorial Stadium in September 2006. Bristol have made five previous visits to Ricoh Arena in all competitions with their only victory being in the Premiership Rugby Cup in November 2018.
Prediction: Wasps by five points.
Wasps: 15 Lima Sopoaga, 14 Zach Kibirige, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jimmy Gopperth, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Jacob Umaga, 9 Ben Vellacott, 8 Brad Shields, 7 Thomas Young, 6 Jack Willis, 5 James Gaskell, 4 Tim Cardall, 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Tommy Taylor, 1 Simon McIntyre
Replacements: 16 Tom Cruse, 17 Tom West, 18 Jeff Toomaga-Allen, 19 Levi Douglas, 20 Alfie Barbeary, 21 Tom Willis, 22 Sam Wolstenholme, 23 Paolo Odogwu
Bristol Bears: 15 Piers O’Conor, 14 Niyi Adeolokun, 13 Alapati Leiua, 12 Siale Piutau (captain), 11 Henry Purdy, 10 Sam Bedlow, 9 Harry Randall, 8 Jake Heenan, 7 Dan Thomas, 6 Chris Vui, 5 Joe Joyce, 4 Ed Holmes, 3 John Afoa, 2 Bryan Byrne, 1 Yann Thomas
Replacements: 16 Will Capon, 17 Jake Woolmore, 18 Jake Armstrong, 19 John Hawkins, 20 James Dun, 21 Tom Kessell, 22 Tom Wilstead, 23 Toby Fricker
Referee: Thomas Foley
Assistant Referees: Greg Macdonald & Simon Harding
TMO: Karl Dickson