Predictions and teams: Premiership, Round 19
FOUR ROUNDS TO GO: There are just 20 points left on the table in the race for a place in the semifinals.
That race is likely to go down to the wire with just five points separating Sale Sharks in second and Bath in fifth.
This latest round of midweek matches kicks off on Tuesday with two of the sides, Bristol Bears and Northampton Saints, who played last Friday, going head-to-head.
Next up are Sandy Park and the Ricoh Arena.
Exeter will be trying to extend an impressive six-match winning run at home to Gloucester, while Leicester Tigers will make the short trip to Coventry where they are trying to find a win that could take them into tenth.
Should the Chiefs slip-up, Sale Sharks will be looking to close the gap at the top when they host Saracens, as the Sharks attempt to complete the most successful winning league run for almost five years.
Round 19 ends when Bath – who has been in great form since the resumption – have their eyes on a semifinal spot when they host Worcester Warriors, while Harlequins make another trip to the Twickenham Stoop, this time as the away side against London Irish.
Midweek predictions and teams
Tuesday, September 8
Bristol Bears v Northampton Saints
(Ashton Gate, 19.45, 18.45 GMT)
Bristol Bears’ record since the return of Premiership is won three lost two, with their defeat to Exeter Chiefs in their most recent game at Ashton Gate ending a five-game winning run at the venue in all competitions.
Northampton Saints only victory since the return was 27-3 at London Irish in round 15. The Saints have won four of their last six away games in all tournaments.
Bristol has won their last two matches against Northampton but have not achieved a Premiership season’s double over the East Midlanders since 2006-07. Northampton have been victorious on both of their two previous visits to Ashton Gate.
@rugby365com: Bristol Bears by 15 points
Bristol Bears: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Piers O’Conor, 13 Semi Radradra, 12 Siale Piutau (captain), 11 Alapati Leiua, 10 Callum Sheedy, 9 Andy Uren, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 Ben Earl, 6 Chris Vui, 5 Joe Joyce, 4 Dave Attwood, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Harry Thacker, 1 Jake Woolmore.
Replacements: 16 Will Capon, 17 Yann Thomas, 18 Peter McCabe, 19 Steven Luatua, 20 Dan Thomas, 21 Chris Cook, 22 Max Malins, 23 Luke Morahan.
Northampton Saints: 15 Tommy Freeman, 14 Ryan Olowofela, 13 Fraser Dingwall, 12 Piers Francis, 11 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 10 James Grayson, 9 Tom James, 8 Shaun Adendorff, 7 Lewis Ludlam (captain), 6 Jamie Gibson, 5 Nick Isiekwe, 4 Alex Moon, 3 Ehren Painter, 2 Mikey Haywood, 1 Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi.
Replacements: 16 Reece Marshall, 17 Nick Auterac, 18 Karl Garside, 19 Lewis Bean, 20 Tui Uru, 21 Henry Taylor, 22 Reuben Bird-Tulloch, 23 Josh Gillespie.
Referee: Tom Foley
Assistant referees: Jack Makepeace & Simon McConnell
TMO: Wayne Barnes
Exeter Chiefs v Gloucester
(Sandy Park – Kick-off: 17.30; 16.30 GMT)
Exeter Chiefs have won their last six matches since their reversal to Harlequins at Twickenham Stoop on 29 February.
The Chiefs only Premiership defeat at Sandy Park since November was to Sale on 25 January.
Gloucester has won their last two Premiership fixtures, but have not won three in succession in the competition since April 2019.
Gloucester’s only victory away from home in any tournament since October was 44-15 at Worcester in round 14 of Premiership.
Exeter beat Gloucester 26-15 at Kingsholm in round 10 and have never before achieved a Premiership season’s double over the Cherry & Whites. Gloucester’s only victory at Sandy Park since January 2015 came in a pool game in last season’s European Champions Cup.
@rugby365com: Exeter Chiefs by 12 points
Exeter Chiefs: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Tom Hendrickson, 11 Ian Whitten, 10 Joe Simmonds (captain), 9 Jack Maunder, 8 Sam Simmonds, 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 6 Dave Ewers, 5 Jonny Hill, 4 Jonny Gray, 3 Harry Williams, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 1 Ben Moon
Replacements: 16 Jack Yeandle, 17 Alec Hepburn, 18 Tomas Francis, 19 Sam Skinner, 20 Jannes Kirsten, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Gareth Steenson, 23 Ollie Devoto
Gloucester: 15 Tom Hudson, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Henry Trinder, 12 Tom Seabrook, 11 Matt Banahan, 10 Billy Twelvetrees (captain), 9 Charlie Chapman, 8 Ruan Ackermann, 7 Jordy Reid, 6 Josh Gray, 5 Danny Drake, 4 Charlie Beckett, 3 Jamal Ford-Robinson, 2 Henry Walker, 1 Corne Fourie
Replacements: 16 Todd Gleave, 17 Alex Seville, 18 Ciaran Knight, 19 Cameron Jordan, 20 Will Crane, 21 Joe Simpson, 22 George Barton, 23 Alex Morgan
Referee: Christophe Ridley
Assistant referees: Sara Cox & Paul Dix
TMO: Geoff Warren
Wasps v Leicester Tigers
(Ricoh Arena – Kick-off: 17.30; 16.30)
Wasps have lost just once in the last eight rounds of Premiership: 11-20 to Sale Sharks at the Ricoh Arena on 25 August.
This was Wasps’ only home defeat in any competition since January.
Leicester Tigers only win in the last six rounds of Premiership was 13-7 at home to London Irish on 26 August.
The Tigers have won just three times on the road this season, at Bath in the Premiership Cup in October and twice in the European Challenge Cup, at Cardiff Blues in November and Calvisano in December.
Leicester have lost just one of their last four fixtures against Wasps: 35-41 at Ricoh Arena in September 2018.
The Tigers only victory in their seven previous visits to Ricoh Arena in all competitions was on their first-ever trip in Premiership in May 2015.
@rugby365com: Wasps by 20 points
Wasps: 15 Matteo Minozzi, 14 Zach Kibirige, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Ryan Mills, 11 Marcus Watson, 10 Jacob Umaga, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Brad Shields, 7 Thomas Young, 6 Alfie Barbeary, 5 James Gaskell, 4 Joe Launchbury (captain), 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Gabriel Oghre, 1 Tom West
Replacements: 16 Tom Cruse, 17 Simon McIntyre, 18 Jeff Toomaga-Allen, 19 Levi Douglas, 20 Jack Willis, 21 Sam Wolstenholme, 22 Jimmy Gopperth, 23 Sam Spink
Leicester Tigers: 15 George Worth, 14 Harry Potter, 13 Dan Kelly, 12 Guy Porter, 11 Harry Simmons, 10 Zack Henry, 9 Ben White, 8 Jordan Coghlan, 7 Thom Smith, 6 Ollie Chessum, 5 Blake Enever, 4 Cameron Henderson, 3 Nephi Leatigaga, 2 Jake Kerr, 1 Ellis Genge (captain)
Replacements: 16 Charlie Clare, 17 Facundo Gigena, 18 Joe Heyes, 19 Harry Wells, 20 Sam Lewis, 21 Ben Youngs, 22 Johnny McPhillips, 23 Andrew Forsyth
Referee: Karl Dickson
Assistant referees: Ian Tempest & Hamish Smales
TMO: Nigel Carrick
Sale Sharks v Saracens
(AJ Bell Stadium – Kick-off: 18.00; 17.00 GMT)
Sale Sharks have won their last three Premiership encounters but have not won four in succession in the competition since February 2016.
The Sharks solitary reversal in their last five games at AJ Bell Stadium in all tournaments was 22-32 to Exeter Chiefs in Round 15 of Premiership.
Saracens 18-28 home defeat to Wasps on Saturday ended a three-match winning run.
Saracens have won two of their last three away games, at Northampton in round 12 and at London Irish in round 17.
Saracens have lost only one of their last nine Premiership fixtures with Sale: 24-18 the last time the two teams met in Salford on 4 January 2019.
@rugby365com: Sale Sharks by 12 points
Sale Sharks: 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Tom Roebuck, 13 Sam James, 12 Sam Hill, 11 Arron Reed, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Will Cliff, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Ben Curry (captain), 6 Cameron Neild, 5 James Phillips, 4 Matt Postlethwaite, 3 Will-Griff John, 2 Curtis Langdon, 1 Valerey Morozov
Replacements: 16 Ewan Ashman, 17 Bevan Rodd, 18 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 19 Cobus Wiese, 20 Jean-Luc du Preez, 21 Faf de Klerk, 22 Tom Curtis, 23 Connor Doherty
Saracens: 15 Elliott Obatoyinbo, 14 Dom Morris, 13 Duncan Taylor, 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Rotimi Segun, 10 Manu Vunipola, 9 Tom Whiteley, 8 Andy Christie, 7 Sean Reffell, 6 Calum Clark, 5 Callum Hunter-Hill, 4 Joel Kpoku, 3 Alec Clarey, 2 Tom Woolstencroft, 1 Sam Crean
Replacements: 16 Kapeli Pifeleti, 17 Robin Hislop, 18 Josh Ibuanokpe, 19 Cameron Boon, 20 Janco Venter, 21 Alex Day, 22 Will Hooley, 23 Harry Sloan
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Assistant referees: Wayne Falla & Peter Allan
TMO: Trevor Fisher
Bath v Worcester Warriors
(Recreation Ground – Kick-off: 19.45)
Bath have lost just once since the return to Premiership: 23-27 at home to Wasps on 31 August.
Bath have lost three times at the Recreation Ground in Premiership this season, to Saracens in round 5, Bristol in round 12 and Wasps in round 17.
Worcester Warriors only win in the last eleven rounds of Premiership was 29-14 at home to Harlequins on 26 August, whilst their only away victory in the competition this season was also against Harlequins, in November.
Bath have lost just twice to the Warriors in their last fourteen Premiership encounters, the most recent of which was 19-21 at Sixways in January 2019.
The Warriors have never won in fifteen previous visits to the Recreation Ground in all competitions.
@rugby365com: Bath by 14 points
Bath: 15 Tom de Glanville, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Max Clark, 12 Cameron Redpath, 11 Gabriel Hamer-Webb, 10 Josh Matavesi, 9 Will Chudley, 8 Zach Mercer, 7 Miles Reid, 6 Tom Ellis, 5 Elliott Stooke, 4 Josh McNally (captain), 3 Christian Judge, 2 Jack Walker, 1 Lewis Boyce
Replacements: 16 Ross Batty, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Kieran Verden, 19 Mike Williams, 20 Sam Underhill, 21 Max Green, 22 Orlando Bailey, 23 Jonathan Joseph
Worcester Warriors: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Nick David, 13 Ollie Lawrence, 12 Will Butler (captain), 11 Ed Fidow, 10 Billy Searle, 9 Jono Kitto, 8 Tom Dodd, 7 Sam Lewis, 6 Matt Cox, 5 James Scott, 4 Justin Clegg, 3 Richard Palframan, 2 Beck Cutting, 1 Callum Black
Replacements: 16 Isaac Miller, 17 Kai Owen, 18 Joe Morris, 19 Ted Hill, 20 Matti Williams, 21 Gareth Simpson, 22 Scott van Breda, 23 Alex Hearle
Referee: Andrew Jackson
Assistant referees: Adam Leal & Phil Watters
TMO: David Rose
London Irish v Harlequins
(Twickenham Stoop – Kick-off: 19.45; 18.45 GMT)
London Irish have lost their last seven Premiership fixtures since beating Gloucester on 22 February and have gained just two bonus points in the process.
The Exiles most recent success at Twickenham Stoop was in the “away” game to Harlequins on 15 February.
Harlequins only win in the last four rounds of Premiership was 30-17 against Northampton at Twickenham Stoop on 30 August.
Harlequins have played two previous ‘away” games at The Stoop in Premiership beating London Scottish there in January 1999 and London Irish the following November. ‘
London Irish have won their last three Premiership fixtures against Harlequins and have only once before won four in succession against their now co-tenants, between 2000 to 2001.
@rugby365com: London Irish by five points
London Irish: 15 James Stokes, 14 Dan Norton, 13 Ross Neal, 12 Phil Cokanasiga, 11 Ollie Hassell-Collins, 10 Jacob Atkins, 9 Ben Meehan, 8 Isaac Curtis-Harris, 7 Josh Smart, 6 Jack Cooke (captain), 5 Chunya Munga, 4 Ben Donnell, 3 Ollie Hoskins, 2 Matt Cornish, 1 Allan Dell
Replacements: 16 Ben Atkins, 17 Harry Elrington, 18 Lovejoy Chawatama, 19 George Nott, 20 Izaiha Moore-Aiono, 21 Caolan Englefield, 22 Brendan Macken, 23 Tom Homer
Harlequins: 15 Aaron Morris, 14 Cadan Murley, 13 Luke Northmore, 12 James Lang, 11 Nathan Earle, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Scott Steele, 8 James Chisholm, 7 Chris Robshaw (captain), 6 Tom Lawday, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Dino Lamb, 3 Simon Kerrod, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Santiago Garcia Botta
Replacements: 16 Joe Gray, 17 Marc Thomas, 18 Will Collier, 19 George Hammond, 20 Archie White, 21 Martin Landajo, 22 Andre Esterhuizen, 23 Ross Chisholm
Referee: Matthew Carley
Assistant referees: Luck Pearce & Tom Foley
TMO: Stuart Terheege