Premiership, Round 12 - teams and predictions
FRIDAY DOUBLE-HEADER: We move into the second half of the season in the Premiership this weekend with six compelling fixtures.
It starts kicking off at Welford Road and the AJ Bell Stadium on Friday.
Such is the competitive nature of the League, four different clubs – Exeter Chiefs, Harlequins, Sale Sharks and Northampton Saints – could end the weekend in second place.
One of those clubs, Sale Sharks host Newcastle Falcons on Friday, with London Irish making the trip north to on Steve Borthwick’s Leicester Tigers.
Alex Sanderson’s Sharks moved back into the top four with their first win in three games, and another victory on home soil will see them leapfrog the Chiefs ahead of Saturday’s fixtures.
We have three matches on Saturday, the day rounded off at Sixways Stadium, Bristol Bears making the short journey to the Midlands.
Pat Lam’s charges will be hoping to stretch their unbeaten run to four games and extend their six-point lead at the top of the table.
Before the Warriors and the Bears lock horns we have games at The Recreation Ground and the Ricoh Arena.
We have a humdinger of a derby at The Rec with champions Exeter Chiefs making the trip to take on Bath while at the same time Wasps will be hosting Gloucester.
Round 12 ends on Sunday in west London, with Northampton Saints arriving at the Twickenham Stoop to face Harlequins.
Quins’ defeat in Newcastle ended a run of four successive wins, and the third-placed west Londoners will be eager to boost their semifinal credentials.
The Saints slipped out of the top four with their loss at home to Bath, but a win in the capital will lift them above Quins in the race for Premiership glory.
(Continue below …)
Round 12 teams and predictions!
Friday, March 5
Leicester Tigers v London Irish
(Mattioli Woods Welford Road – Kick-off: 19.45; 19,45 GMT)
Leicester Tigers last four matches in Premiership have all gone with home field advantage. Tigers’ two home defeats so far this season have both been in Premiership at the hands of Exeter and Sale.
London Irish have lost just once in any competition since early December (excluding declared defeats): 3-26 at Exeter in Round 9 of Premiership. The Exiles won their most recent away game 16-10 at Wasps last weekend and have not won successive matches on their travels for twelve months.
The last four matches between the two clubs have all been won by the home side on the day whilst London Irish’s only victory at Mattioli Woods Welford Road since 2003 was in September 2014.
@rugby365com: Leicester Tigers by eight points
Leicester Tigers: 15 Freddie Steward, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Matías Moroni, 12 Matt Scott, 11 Guy Porter, 10 Zack Henry, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Cyle Brink, 7 Tommy Reffell, 6 Harry Wells, 5 Tomás Lavanini, 4 Calum Green, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tom Youngs, 1 Luan de Bruin.
Replacements: 16 Charlie Clare, 17 Nephi Leatigaga, 18 Joe Heyes, 19 Ollie Chessum, 20 Luke Wallace, 21 Jack van Poortvliet, 22 Johnny McPhillips, 23 Kini Murimurivalu.
London Irish: 15 Tom Parton, 14 Ben Loader, 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Terrence Hepetema, 11 Ollie Hassell-Collins, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Albert Tuisue, 7 Blair Cowan, 6 Matt Rogerson, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Steve Mafi, 3 Lovejoy Chawatama, 2 Agustin Creevy, 1 Will Goodrick-Clarke.
Replacements: 16 Matt Cornish, 17 Allan Dell, 18 Ollie Hoskins, 19 Chunya Munga, 20 George Nott, 21 Ben Donnell, 22 Ben Meehan, 23 Will Joseph.
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant referees: Christophe Ridley & Philip Watters
TMO: Stuart Terheege
Sale Sharks v Newcastle Falcons
(AJ Bell Stadium – kick-off: 20.00; 20.00 GMT)
Sale Sharks two-game losing run in Premiership ended with their 25-20 victory at home to Exeter on Friday. Since rugby restarted in August, Sale has been turned over four times at home in the Premiership.
Newcastle Falcons 25-22 victory at home to Harlequins on Saturday was their first win in any competition since beating Gloucester at Kingston Park on 9 January.
The Tynesiders most recent victory away from home in Premiership was at Wasps in Round Three.
Newcastle have lost just once in their last five encounters with Sale in Premiership: 7-20 at AJ Bell Stadium in October 2018.
@rugby365com: Sale Sharks by 12 points
Sale Sharks: 15 Luke James, 14 Byron McGuigan, 13 Sam James, 12 Sam Hill, 11 Marland Yarde, 10 AJ MacGinty, 9 Francois de Klerk (captain), 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Sam Dugdale, 6 Cobus Wiese, 5 Lodewyk de Jager, 4 Josh Beaumont, 3 WillGriff John, 2 Curtis Langdon, 1 Bevan Rodd.
Replacements: 16 Armand van der Merwe, 17 Ross Harrison, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 Jean-Pierre du Preez, 20 Cameron Neild, 21 Raffi Quirke, 22 Robert du Preez, 23 Simon Hammersley.
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Tom Penny, 14 Mateo Carreras, 13 Matias Orlando, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 Ben Stevenson, 10 Brett Connon, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Callum Chick (captain), 7 John Hardie, 6Rob Farrar, 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 Darren Barry, 20 Connor Collett, 21 Michael Young, 22 Joel Matavesi, 23 Alex Tait.
Referee: Andrew Jackson
Assistant referees: John Meredith & Jamie Leahy
TMO: Trevor Fisher
Saturday, March 6
Bath v Exeter Chiefs
(Recreation Ground – Kick-off: 15.00; 15.00 GMT)
Bath have now won their last three Premiership matches, their best run in the competition since September.
Since that run they have been defeated four times at the Recreation Ground in all competitions.
Exeter Chiefs have lost their last two Premiership fixtures, at home to Northampton and away at Sale, although they obtained a losing bonus point in each match.
The Chiefs have won four of their last six away games in Premiership.
Exeter’s only defeat in their last nine encounters with Bath in Premiership was 10-13 at the Rec in October 2019.
@rugby365com: Exeter Chiefs by five points
Bath: 15 Tom de Glanville, 14 Ruaridh McConnochie, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Josh Matavesi, 11 Will Muir, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Ben Spencer, 8 Zach Mercer, 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Taulupe Faletau, 5 Elliott Stooke, 4 Josh McNally (captain), 3 Henry Thomas, 2 Tom Dunn, 1 Beno Obano
Replacements: 16 Jack Walker, 17 Jamie Bhatti, 18 Christian Judge, 19 Tom Ellis, 20 Miles Reid, 21 Will Chudley, 22 Tian Schoeman, 23 Joe Cokanasiga
Exeter: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Facundo Cordero, 13 Ian Whitten, 12 Ollie Devoto, 11 Tom O’Flaherty, 10 Joe Simmonds (captain), 9 Jack Maunder, 8 Sam Simmonds, 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 6 Dave Ewers, 5 Sam Skinner, 4 Jonny Gray, 3 Harry Williams, 2 Jack Innard, 1 Alec Hepburn
Replacements: 16 Elvis Taione, 17 Ben Moon, 18 Tomas Francis, 19 Sean Lonsdale, 20 Jannes Kirsten, 21 Stu Townsend, 22 Harvey Skinner, 23 Tom Hendrickson
Referee: Tom Foley
Assistant referees: Greg Macdonald & Paul Dix
TMO: Geoff Warren
Wasps v Gloucester
(Ricoh Arena – Kick-off: 15.00; 15.00 GMT)
Wasps have won just once in the last five rounds of Premiership: 17-13 at Worcester on 14 February.
Wasps have lost their last three matches at the Ricoh Arena and have not lost four in succession at home in Premiership since they were at Adams Park in 2013
Gloucester’s eight-game losing run in Premiership ended with their 22-14 victory at home to Worcester on Saturday.
Gloucester has won only once away from home in any competition since October 2019: 44-15 at Worcester in August 2020.
Gloucester’s only defeat to Wasps in Premiership since December 2017 was 22-39 on their most recent victory to the Ricoh Arena in March 2020.
@rugby365com: Wasps by 12 points
Wasps: 15 Rob Miller, 14 Zach Kibirige, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Michael Le Bourgeois, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Jacob Umaga, 9 Will Porter, 8 Tom Willis, 7 Thomas Young, 6 Brad Shields (captain), 5 James Gaskell, 4 Will Rowlands, 3 Jeff Toomaga-Allen, 2 Gabriel Oghre, 1 Tom West
Replacements: 16 Tom Cruse, 17 Ben Harris, 18 Nicky Thomas, 19 Levi Douglas, 20 Sione Vailanu, 21 Ben Vellacott, 22 Jimmy Gopperth, 23 Matteo Minozzi
Gloucester: 15 Kyle Moyle, 14 Santiago Carreras, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 Ollie Thorley, 10 George Barton, 9 Willi Heinz, 8 Ruan Ackermann, 7 Lewis Ludlow (captai), 6 Jordy Reid, 5 Matias Alemanno, 4 Ed Slater, 3 Fraser Balmain, 2 Santiago Socino, 1 Alex Seville
Replacements: 16 Henry Walker, 17 Jamal Ford-Robinson, 18 Jack Stanley, 19 Alex Craig, 20 Jack Clement, 21 Charlie Chapman, 22 Tom Seabrook, 23 Charlie Sharples
Referee: Matthew Carley
Assistant referees: Dean Richards & Simon McConnell
TMO: Graham Hughes
Worcester Warriors v Bristol Bears
(Sixways – Kick-ff: 17.15; 17.15 GMT)
Worcester Warriors only victory this season in Premiership (excluding declared wins) was in the opening round at home to London Irish.
The Warriors have at least picked up three losing bonus points in the last six rounds of Premiership.
Top of the table Bristol Bears have lost just once in Premiership since the opening weekend: 13-20 at home to Sale in Round Eight.
The Bears drew their most recent away game 34-all at London Irish and have not been defeated away from home in Premiership since their visit to Wasps in November.
Bristol have won their last three fixtures against Worcester since the Warriors 27-25 victory away at Ashton Gate in March 2019.
Bristol won 36-13 on their most recent victory to Sixways and have never won successive fixtures at the venue.
@rugby365com: Bristol Bears by nine points
Worcester Warriors: 15 Nick David, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Oli Morris, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Perry Humphreys, 10 Jamie Shillcock, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 GJ van Velze 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Ted Hill (captain), 5 Justin Clegg, 4 Andrew Kitchener, 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Beck Cutting, 1 Ethan Waller
Replacements: 16 Isaac Miller, 17 Marc Thomas, 18 Richard Palframan, 19 Joe Batley, 20 Cornell du Preez, 21 Michael Heaney, 22 Billy Searle, 23 Ashley Beck
Bristol Bears: 15 Henry Purdy, 14 Niyi Adeolokun, 13 Piers O’Conor, 12 Alapati Leiua, 11 Siva Naulago, 10 Callum Sheedy, 9 Andy Uren, 8 Steven Luatua (captain), 7 Fitz Harding, 6 Chris Vui, 5 Joe Joyce, 4 Dave Attwood, 3 Max Lahiff, 2 Will Capon, 1 Jake Woolmore
Replacements: 16 George Kloska, 17 Yann Thomas, 18 John Afoa, 19 Ed Holmes, 20 Jake Heenan, 21 Tom Kessell, 22 Tiff Eden, 23 Toby Fricker
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Assistant referees: Michael Hudson & Gareth Holsgrove
TMO: Rowan Kitt
Sunday, March 7
Harlequins v Northampton Saints
(Twickenham Stoop – Kick-off: 15.00; 15.00 GMT)
Harlequins four game-winning run in Premiership ended with their 22-25 reversal at Newcastle on Surday.
The Londoners are unbeaten in their last three matches at the Twickenham Stoop since losing there against Bristol on Boxing Day.
Northampton Saints four game-winning run in Premiership ended with their narrow defeat at home to Bath on Sunday.
The Saints have won their last three away games in Premiership (excluding declared wins) and have not won four in succession on the road in the competition since 2014.
Harlequins have won their last two matches against Northampton and have not achieved a Premiership season double over the East Midlander’s since 2012/13.
The Saints have won on four of their last six visits to the Stoop (one victory was against London Irish).
@rugby365com: Harlequins by 12 points
Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Aaron Morris, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Tyrone Green, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Danny Care, 8 Alex Dombrandt, 7 Archie White, 6 James Chisholm, 5 Stephan Lewies (captain), 4 Dino Lamb, 3 Wilco Louw 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Joe Marler
Replacements: 16 Joe Gray, 17 Jordan Els, 18 Simon Kerrod, 19 Glen Young, 20 Jack Kenningham, 21 Martin Landajo, 22 Brett Herron, 23 Luke Northmore
Northampton Saints: 15 Tommy Freeman, 14 Matt Proctor, 13 Fraser Dingwall, 12 Piers Francis, 11 Ollie Sleightholme, 10 George Furbank, 9 Tom James, 8 Tom Wood, 7 Lewis Ludlam (captain), 6 Nick Isiekwe, 5 Api Ratuniyarawa, 4 Alex Coles, 3 Paul Hill, 2 Sam Matavesi, 1 Nick Auterac
Replacements: 16 Mike Haywood, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Ehren Painter, 19 Alex Moon, 20 JJ Tonks, 21 Henry Taylor, 22 Rory Hutchinson, 23 Harry Mallinder
Referee: Luke Pearce
Assistant referees: Karl Dickson & Adam Leal
TMO: Wayne Barnes