Premiership - Predictions and Teams, Round 15
RACE TO THE PLAY-OFFS: With midweek matches following Round 15, all games this weekend will take place on either Friday or Saturday.
The action kicks off on Friday at the AJ Bell Stadium where Sale Sharks take on Premiership leaders Exeter Chiefs.
The Chiefs are now eight points clear at the top of the table as the compelling race for a place in the Premiership semifinals hots up.
Round 1️⃣4️⃣ is done and dusted and here’s how it stands 🙌
Things remain tight all the way down the table as @WaspsRugby climb the pack into the top 4 with an impressive win this afternoon 💪
How do you see the season finishing? 🤔 pic.twitter.com/emoMVlDp7I
— Premiership Rugby (@premrugby) August 16, 2020
The position behind the Chiefs is nowhere near as clear cut as remarkably just 11 points separate the next seven teams, making it pretty clear that this season will – once again – go down to the wire.
Following the Sharks and the Chiefs on Friday, Gloucester and Wasps will host their first matches of the restart, hosting Bristol Bears and Worcester Warriors.
The Premiership action on Saturday starts at Allianz Park where Harlequins make the short trip to north London.
Following this clash, the action continues at Harlequins’ Twickenham Stoop home where London Irish host Northampton Saints, the weekend ending with one of English club rugby’s oldest fixtures, Leicester Tigers hosting Bath Rugby, a ground they have been visiting since 1913.
Another bumper weekend of #GallagherPrem action on its way 😎
6 fascinating clashes coming your way in Round 1️⃣5️⃣ and you can catch every second of the drama live on @btsport 🙌
Which of these crackers are you most excited for? 💥 pic.twitter.com/nJzxVukX4nADVERTISEMENT
— Premiership Rugby (@premrugby) August 18, 2020
This week’s predictions
Friday, August 21:
Sale Sharks v Exeter Chiefs
(AJ Bell Stadium, Manchester – Kick-off: 18.00; 17.00 GMT)
Sale Sharks restart defeat to Harlequins ended a run of three successive Premiership victories. The Sharks only defeat at AJ Bell Stadium in the last twelve months of Premiership Rugby was 16-18 to Gloucester on the opening round this season.
Exeter Chiefs only defeat in the last five rounds of the Premiership was 30-34 to Harlequins at Twickenham Stoop on February 29. That defeat was the Chiefs first on the road in any tournament since October 2019.
Sale beat Exeter 22-19 at Sandy Park in Round Nine but have never before achieved a Premiership Rugby double over the Devonians in the same season. The Chiefs have won on their last four visits to AJ Bell Stadium in all tournaments.
Prediction: Sale Sharks by five points.
Sale Sharks: 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Byron McGuigan, 13 Sam James, 12 Manu Tuilagi, 11 Marland Yarde, 10 Rob du Preez, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Tom Curry, 6 Jono Ross (captain), 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Jean-Luc du Preez, 3 Will-Griff John, 2 Akker van der Merwe, 1 Coenie Oosthuizen.
Replacements: 16 Curtis Langdon, 17 Ross Harrison, 18 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 19 James Phillips, 20 Ben Curry, 21 Will Cliff, 22 AJ MacGinty, 23 Denny Solomona.
Exeter Chiefs: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Ian Whitten, 11 Olly Woodburn, 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 Billy Keast, 18 Tomas Francis, 19 Sam Skinner, 20 Jannes Kirsten, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Gareth Steenson, 23 Tom Hendrickson.
Referee: Matthew Carley
Assistant referees: Tom Foley & Jack Makepeace
TMO: Trevor Fisher
Gloucester v Bristol Bears
(Kingsholm, Gloucester – Kick-off: 19.45; 18.45 GMT)
Gloucester’s 44-15 victory at Worcester on Saturday was a great start for new head coach George Skivington as it ended a run of six successive defeats in all competitions.
The Cherry & Whites have lost their last two fixtures at Kingsholm since beating Montpellier there in the Champions Cup on January 11. Bristol are in the midst of their best-ever Premiership run having won their last six matches in the competition.
The Bears have won their last two away games, at Northampton and at Bath. Bristol have won their last four matches against Gloucester in all competitions, but all matches were played at Ashton Gate. The Bears last victory at Kingsholm was in March 2006, six defeats ago.
Prediction: Bristol by seven points.
Gloucester: 15 Louis Rees-Zammit, 14 Ollie Thorley, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 Jonny May, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Joe Simpson, 8 Jake Polledri, 7 Lewis Ludlow (captain), 6 Ruan Ackermann, 5 Matt Garvey, 4 Ed Slater, 3 Fraser Balmain, 2 Jack Singleton, 1 Val Rapava-Ruskin.
Replacements: 16 Franco Marais, 17 Logovi’I Mulipola, 18 Jack Stanley, 19 Danny Drake, 20 Jack Clement, 21 Stephen Varney, 22 Tom Seabrook, 23 Charlie Sharples.
Bristol Bears: 15 Max Malins, 14 Alapati Leiua, 13 Semi Radradra, 12 Siale Piutau, 11 Henry Purdy, 10 Callum Sheedy, 9 Andy Uren, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 Ben Earl, 6 Steven Luatua (captain), 5 Chris Vui, 4 Joe Joyce, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Harry Thacker, 1 Jake Woolmore.
Replacements: 16 Will Capon, 17 Yann Thomas, 18 Max Lahiff, 19 Ed Holmes, 20 Dan Thomas, 21 Harry Randall, 22 Tiff Eden, 23 Luke Morahan.
Referee: Luke Pearce
Assistant referees: Phil Watters & Dean Richards
TMO: Claire Hodnett
Wasps v Worcester Warriors
(Ricoh Arena, Coventry – Kick-off: 19.45; 18.45 GMT)
Wasps have won their last four Premiership Rugby matches, their best run in the competition since 2017. Wasps have won their last two fixtures at Ricoh Arena but have not won three in succession at the venue since April 2018.
Worcester Warriors have slipped to seven successive Premiership defeats, their worst sequence since 2017.
The Warriors only away win in the Premiership this season was at Harlequins in Round Four. Wasps have won their last eleven fixtures against Worcester in Premiership Rugby since the Warriors 29-23 victory at Sixways in March 2013 whilst Worcester have been defeated on all six previous occasions they have visited Ricoh Arena in all tournaments.
Prediction: Wasps by 12 points
Wasps: 15 Rob Miller, 14 Paolo Odogwu, 13 Michael Le Bourgeois, 12 Ryan Mills, 11 Marcus Watson, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Ben Vellacott, 8 Tom Willis, 7 Gabriel Oghre, 6 Ben Morris, 5 James Gaskell (captain), 4 Tim Cardall, 3 Biyi Alo, 2 Tom Cruse, 1 Simon McIntyre.
Replacements: 16 Alfie Barbeary, 17 Tom West, 18 Jeff Toomaga-Allen, 19 Theo Vukasinovic, 20 Sione Vailanu, 21 Sam Wolstenholme, 22 Jacob Umaga, 23 Matteo Minozzi.
Worcester Warriors: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Noah Heward, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Will Butler (captain), 11 Nick David, 10 Duncan Weir, 9 Gareth Simpson, 8 Cornell du Preez, 7 Tom Dodd, 6 GJ van Velze, 5 Andrew Kitchener, 4 James Scott, 3 Richard Palframan, 2 Beck Cutting, 1 Callum Black.
Replacements: 16 Isaac Miller, 17 Lewis Holsey, 18 Joe Morris, 19 Justin Clegg, 20 Caleb Montgomery, 21 Jono Kitto, 22 Jamie Shillcock, 23 Oli Morris.
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Assistant referees: Adam Leal & Rob Warburton
TMO: Keith Lewis
Saturday, August 22:
Saracens v Harlequins
(Allianz Park, London – Kick-off: 12.30; 11.30 GMT)
Saracens were narrowly defeated 12-16 in a thriller at Bristol on Saturday and have not lost back-to-back Premiership encounters since March 2018.
Saracens have lost just once at Allianz Park in Premiership Rugby since February 2018, 25-27 to Northampton on the opening round this season. Harlequins last four matches have all been won by the home side on the day whilst their only victory on the road in the tournament since March 2019 was 28-22 at Wasps last December.
Harlequins beat Saracens 41-14 at Twickenham Stoop in Round Nine but have not achieved a Premiership season’s double over their London rivals since 2008/09. Harlequins only previous victory at Allianz Park was by a single point in a pool game in the Anglo-Welsh Cup in November 2017.
Prediction: Saracens by eight points
Saracens: 15 Elliott Obatoyinbo, 14 Alex Lewington, 13 Dom Morris, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 Sean Maitland, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Aled Davies, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Jackson Wray, 6 Mike Rhodes, 5 Callum Hunter-Hill, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Jamie George, 1 Sam Crean
Replacements: 16 Tom Woolstencroft, 17 Richard Barrington, 18 Josh Ibuanokpe, 19 Tim Swinson, 20 Sean Reffell, 21 Tom Whiteley, 22 Juan Pablo Socino, 23 Manu Vunipola
Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Aaron Morris, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 James Lang, 11 Nathan Earle, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Martin Landajo, 8 Alex Dombrandt, 7 Chris Robshaw (captain), 6 James Chisholm, 5 Matt Symons, 4 Stephan Lewies, 3 Simon Kerrod, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Joe Marler
Replacements: 16 Joe Gray, 17 Santiago Garcia Botta, 18 Will Collier, 19 Dino Lamb, 20 Tom Lawday, 21 Will Evans, 22 Scott Steele, 23 Paul Lasike
Referee: Christophe Ridley
Assistant Referees: Jamie Leahy & Paul Dix
TMO: Geoff Warren
London Irish v Northampton Saints
(Twickenham Stoop, London – Kick-off: 14.00; 13.00 GMT)
London Irish have slipped to three straight defeats in the Premiership, their worst sequence since February 2018. This is the first home game London Irish have played at Twickenham Stoop since losing there 40-42 to Gloucester in May 2000.
Northampton Saints only victory in their last six Premiership fixtures was 16-10 at Worcester on March 6, however, the Saints have won three of their last four away games in all tournaments. The Saints have also won on three of their last four visits to The Stoop.
London Irish beat Northampton 20-16 at Franklin’s Gardens in Round Nine and have never before achieved a Premiership season’s double over the East Midlanders. The two clubs have met just once before at Twickenham Stoop with The Saints winning 44-20 in January 2000.
Prediction: Northampton by five points.
London Irish: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Ben Loader, 13 Matt Williams, 12 Theo Brophy Clews, 11 Ollie Hassell-Collins, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Ben Meehan, 8 Albert Tuisue, 7 Blair Cowan, 6 Jack Cooke, 5 Sebastian de Chaves, 4 George Nott, 3 Ollie Hoskins, 2 Matt Cornish, 1 Allan Dell
Replacements: 16 Motu Matu’u, 17 Will Goodrick-Clarke, 18 Sekope Kepu, 19 Ben Donnell, 20 TJ Ioane, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Jacob Atkins, 23 Ross Neal
Northampton: 15 George Furbank, 14 Ryan Olowofela, 13 Matt Proctor, 12 Rory Hutchinson, 11 Tom Collins, 10 James Grayson, 9 Alex Mitchell, 8 Shaun Adendorff, 7 Lewis Ludlam (captain), 6 Jamie Gibson, 5 Nick Isiekwe, 4 Alex Moon, 3 Paul Hill, 2 Mike Haywood, 1 Francois van Wyk
Replacements: 16 Reece Marshall, 17 Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi, 18 Ehren Painter, 19 Lewis Bean, 20 Tui Uru, 21 Tom James, 22 Reuben Bird-Tulloch, 23 Ahsee Tuala
Referee: Ian Tempest
Assistant referees: Andrew Jackson & Mike Hudson
TMO: Rowan Kitt
Leicester Tigers v Bath
(Welford Road, Leicester – Kick-off: 16.30; 15.30 GMT)
Leicester Tigers have slipped to successive Premiership defeats at Saracens and at Exeter but at Welford Road they have won their last four matches in all competitions.
Bath have lost just twice in the last six rounds of the Premiership, at home to Bristol in Round 12 and away at Exeter in Round 13.
Bath’s two away wins on the road this season in the Premiership were at London Irish in December and Worcester in February. Bath have won their last three matches against The Tigers in the Premiership, their best run in league play against the East Midlanders since winning four in succession in the old Division One between 1990 and 1992.
Bath have won on their last two visits to Welford Road and have never won three in succession at the famous old venue, which they have been visiting since 1913.
Prediction: Leicester by seven points
Leicester Tigers: 15 Zack Henry, 14 Harry Potter, 13 George Worth, 12 Guy Porter, 11 Harry Simmons, 10 Johnny McPhillips, 9 Ben White (captain), 8 Thom Smith, 7 Luke Wallace, 6 George Martin, 5 Blake Enever, 4 Tomás Lavanini, 3 Joe Heyes, 2 Jake Kerr, 1 Nephi Leatigaga
Replacements: 16 Charlie Clare, 17 Ryan Bower, 18 Dan Cole, 19 Cameron Henderson, 20 Jordan Coghlan, 21 Jack Van Poortvliet, 22 Tom Hardwick, 23 Freddie Steward
Bath: 15 Anthony Watson, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Cameron Redpath, 11 Ruaridh McConnochie, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Ben Spencer, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Tom Ellis, 5 Charlie Ewels (captain), 4 Josh McNally, 3 Will Stuart, 2 Tom Dunn, 1 Lewis Boyce
Replacements: 16 Jack Walker, 17 Beno Obano, 18 Christian Judge, 19 Elliott Stooke, 20 Josh Bayliss, 21 Will Chudley, 22 Josh Matavesi, 23 Tom de Glanville
Referee: Karl Dickson
Assistant referees: Anthony Woodthorpe & Hamish Smales
TMO: David Grashoff