Premiership, Round 16 - Teams and Predictions
PREVIEW: Wayne Barnes will be the man in the middle, for the 237th time, as Round 16 of the Premiership gets underway at Franklin’s Gardens on Friday, with Northampton Saints welcoming London Irish.
Both sides will be eager to bounce back after being knocked out of European competition last weekend and with these two within touching distance of the top four, it is sure to be an exhilarating spectacle under the lights.
Barnes will have John Meredith and Robert Warburton in assistance in the first match of the weekend, while Karl Dickson will be studying the videos.
There are four more matches for you to devour on Saturday, with Sale Sharks and Gloucester Rugby getting the show on the road at the AJ Bell Stadium.
The hosts will be looking to extend their two-match domestic winning streak when the Cherry and Whites come calling and Adam Leal is the man calling the shots, with Paul Dix and Gareth Holsgrove on the line and Andrew Jackson as TMO.
At the same time, last year’s finalists Exeter Chiefs and Wasps go toe to toe as Rob Baxter’s side look to keep the pressure on Bristol Bears at the Premiership summit.
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The Devonians went down to Gloucester in their last league match and will be looking to respond against a side that has won four of their last six matches on their travels.
Tom Foley will be the man with the whistle at Sandy Park, Greg MacDonald and Phil Watters have the flags and Geoffrey Warren has access to the replay evidence.
And the Bears will be looking to maintain their advantage at the top of the table later in the day, as they make the long trip to Kingston Park to take on Newcastle Falcons.
Pat Lam’s side are on a seven-match unbeaten streak heading into the weekend, and they will have Christophe Ridley keeping them in check in the north east on Saturday.
Ridley will have Peter Allan and Jamie Leahy assisting him on the field, and will be able to call on Graham Hughes if anything needs a second look.
The final match of the day sees Harlequins welcome Worcester Warriors to Twickenham Stoop, with both sides looking to get back to winning ways after defeats last time out.
With the race for the top four as tight as ever, Quins will be looking to keep their foot on the gas in Saturday’s affair, where Craig Maxwell-Keys will take charge.
Dean Richards and Simon McConnell will be tasked with keeping an eye on proceedings from the sidelines in the capital, while David Rose will be perusing the camera footage.
The final match of the weekend sees Bath welcome Leicester Tigers to The Rec in the Sunday lunchtime kick-off, in a clash between the two Challenge Cup semi-finalists.
Luke Pearce will be officiating that one alongside Simon Harding and Jonathan Healy, with Rowan Kitt upstairs.
We take a closer look at all Round 16’s matches!
Friday, April 16
Northampton Saints v London Irish
(Franklin’s Gardens – Kick-off: 19.45, 19.45 GMT)
Northampton Saints have won two of their last three Premiership Rugby encounters, at home to Sale in Round 13 and away at Worcester in Round 15.
The Saints have won just twice at Franklin’s Gardens in any competition in 2021, both in Premiership Rugby, a declared win over Newcastle in Round 9 and a 17-14 victory against Sale on March 13.
London Irish’s last six games in all tournaments have all gone the way of home field advantage whilst their only away win in any competition since December was 16-10 at Wasps on February 27.
The two sides should have met in Round 5 of Premiership Rugby, but Northampton were declared victors due to the health situation. London Irish have beaten Northampton only once since 2015: 20-16 at Franklin’s Gardens in January 2020.
@rugby365com: Northampton Saints by five points
Northampton Saints: 15 George Furbank, 14 Ollie Sleightholme, 13 Fraser Dingwall, 12 Piers Francis, 11 Tom Collins, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Alex Mitchell, 8 Teimana Harrison, 7 Lewis Ludlam (captain), 6 Nick Isiekwe, 5 Alex Moon, 4 David Ribbans, 3 Paul Hill, 2 Mike Haywood, 1 Nick Auterac
Replacements: 16 Sam Matavesi, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Ehren Painter, 19 Alex Coles, 20 Tom Wood, 21 Tom James, 22 Rory Hutchinson, 23 Ahsee Tuala
London Irish: 15 Tom Parton, 14 Ben Loader, 13 James Stokes, 12 Terrence Hepetema, 11 Ollie Hassell-Collins, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Albert Tuisue, 7 Blair Cowan (captain), 6 Ben Donnell, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Chunya Munga, 3 Lovejoy Chawatama, 2 Motu Matu’u, 1 Allan Dell
Replacements: 16 Matt Cornish, 17 Harry Elrington, 18 Ollie Hoskins, 19 George Nott, 20 Matt Rogerson, 21 Ben Meehan, 22 Phil Cokanasiga, 23 Tom Homer
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant Referees: John Meredith, Robert Warburton
TMO: Karl Dickson
Saturday, April 17
Sale Sharks v Gloucester Rugby
(AJ Bell Stadium – Kick-off: 12.30, 12.30 GMT)
Sale Sharks solitary defeat in the last five rounds of Premiership Rugby was 14-17 at Northampton on March 13. The Sharks have won their last three home games at AJ Bell Stadium, their best run at the venue for twelve months.
Gloucester Rugby’s two game losing run in Premiership Rugby ended with their 34-18 eclipsing of champions Exeter Chiefs at Kingsholm in Round 15. Gloucester have won just once away from home in any competition since August and that was by a single point at Wasps on March 6.
Sale have lost just once to Gloucester in their last five meetings: 16-18 at AJ Bell Stadium in October 2019.
@rugby365com: Sale Sharks by seven points
Sale Sharks: 15 Luke James, 14 Arron Reed, 13 Sam James, 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11 Marland Yarde, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Faf de Klerk (captain), 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Tom Curry, 6 Jean-Luc du Preez, 5 Jean-Pierre du Preez, 4 Cobus Wiese, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Akker van der Merwe, 1 Ross Harrison
Replacements: 16 Curtis Langdon, 17 Valery Morozov, 18 James Harper, 19 James Phillips, 20 Cameron Neild, 21 Will Cliff, 22 AJ MacGinty, 23 Simon Hammersley
Gloucester: 15 Santiago Carreras, 14 Louis Rees-Zammit, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Mark Atkinson, 11 Jonny May, 10 George Barton, 9 Charlie Chapman, 8 Ruan Ackermann, 7 Lewis Ludlow (captain), 6 Jack Clement, 5 Alex Craig, 4 Ed Slater, 3 Fraser Balmain, 2 Jack Singleton, 1 Val Rapava-Ruskin
Replacements: 16 Henry Walker, 17 Alex Seville, 18 Jamal Ford-Robinson, 19 Matt Garvey, 20 Ben Morgan, 21 Willi Heinz, 22 Billy Twelvetrees, 23 Kyle Moyle
Referee: Adam Leal
Assistant Referees: Paul Dix and Gareth Holsgrove
TMO: Andrew Jackson
Exeter Chiefs v Wasps
(Sandy Park – Kick-off: 12.30; 12.30 GMT)
Exeter Chiefs three game-winning run in Premiership Rugby ended with their 18-34 defeat at Gloucester in Round 15. The Chiefs two defeats at home in the competition this season were to Bristol in Round 6 and Northampton in Round 10.
Wasps have won just once in the last six rounds of Premiership Rugby: 20-18 at Newcastle on March 19. The West Midlanders have won five of their last seven away games in all competitions.
Wasps beat Exeter 5-34 at Ricoh Arena on 2 January and have never achieved a seasons Premiership Rugby double over the Devonians. Wasps have won just once before at Sandy Park: 26-19 in April 2019.
@rugby365com: Exeter Chiefs by three points
Exeter Chiefs: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Facundo Cordero, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Ollie Devoto, 11 Tom O’Flaherty, 10 Joe Simmonds (captain), 9 Jack Maunder, 8 Sam Simmonds, 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 6 Dave Ewers, 5 Jonny Hill, 4 Sam Skinner, 3 Harry Williams, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 1 Alec Hepburn
Replacements: 16 Jack Yeandle, 17 Ben Moon, 18 Tomas Francis, 19 Jonny Gray, 20 Sean Lonsdale, 21 Stu Townsend, 22 Harvey Skinner, 23 Jack Nowell
Wasps: 15 Rob Miller, 14 Paolo Odogwu, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Michael Le Bourgeois, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Jacob Umaga, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Brad Shields, 7 Thomas Young, 6 Ben Morris, 5 Will Rowlands, 4 Joe Launchbury (captain), 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Tommy Taylor, 1 Tom West
Replacements: 16 Gabriel Oghre, 17 Ben Harris, 18 Jeff Toomaga-Allen, 19 Levi Douglas, 20 Alfie Barbeary, 21 Ben Vellacott, 22 Lima Sopoaga, 23 Zach Kibirige
Referee: Tom Foley
Assistant Referees: Greg Macdonald and Phil Watters
TMO: Geoff Warren
Harlequins v Worcester Warriors
(Twickenham Stoop – Kick-off: 17.00, 17.00 GMT)
Harlequins last seven matches in Premiership Rugby have all been won by the home side on the day whilst their most recent reversal at the Stoop in the competition was when Bristol Bears were the visitors on December 26.
Worcester Warriors have won three Premiership Rugby matches this season, 11-10 over London Irish in Round 1 and two declared wins against Harlequins and Newcastle. The Warriors most recent success on the road was beating London Irish at the Stoop in September.
The two clubs should have met on New Year’s Day, but the match was cancelled due to Covid-19 with Worcester declared the victors. The Warriors have lost just once to Harlequins in Premiership Rugby since 2017: 33-47 at the Stoop in February 2019.
@rugby365com: Harlequins by five points
Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Tyrone Green, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Cadan Murley, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Danny Care, 8 Alex Dombrandt (captain), 7 Will Evans, 6 Tom Lawday, 5 Dino Lamb, 4 Matt Symons, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Joe Marler
Replacements: 16 Joe Gray, 17 Jordan Els, 18 Will Collier, 19 Hugh Tizard, 20 Jack Kenningham, 21 Martin Landajo, 22 Brett Herron, 23 Luke Northmore
Worcester Warriors: 15 Jamie Shillcock, 14 Perry Humphreys, 13 Ollie Lawrence, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Alex Hearle, 10 Billy Searle, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 GJ van Velze, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Ted Hill (captain), 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 Joe Batley, 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Niall Annett, 1 Ethan Waller
Replacements: 16 Isaac Miller, 17 Marc Thomas, 18 Richard Palframan, 19 Anton Bresler, 20 Tom Dodd, 21 Gareth Simpson, 22 Ashley Beck, 23 Harri Doel
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Assistant Referees: Dean Richards and Simon McConnell
TMO: David Rose
Newcastle Falcons v Bristol Bears
(Kingston Park – Kick-off: 17.00; 17.00 GMT)
Newcastle Falcons have slipped to four straight defeats in Premiership Rugby since beating Harlequins 25-22 at Kingston Park on February 27. That victory over the Londoners is the Tynesiders only win at Kingston Park since January.
Bristol Bears are unbeaten in their last seven Premiership Rugby fixtures and have won their last five in a row since the draw at London Irish in Round 10. Should they avoid defeat this weekend they will set a new Bristol Premiership record for consecutive unbeaten matches in the competition.
The Bears have won their last three fixtures against the Falcons since Newcastle’s 39-27 win at Ashton Gate in May 2017.
@rugby365com: Bristol Bears by 10 points
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Tom Penny, 14 Cooper Vuna, 13 George Wacokecoke, 12 Pete Lucock, 11 Ben Stevenson, 10 Toby Flood, 9 Michael Young, 8 Callum Chick, 7 Mark Wilson (captain), 6 Will Welch, 5 Sean Robinson, 4 Greg Peterson, 3 Logovi’i Mulipola, 2 George McGuigan, 1 Trevor Davison
Replacements: 16 Jamie Blamire, 17 Adam Brocklebank, 18 Rodney Ah You, 19 Marco Fuser, 20 Philip van der Walt, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Brett Connon, 23 Gary Graham
Bristol Bears: 15 Max Malins, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Piers O’Conor, 12 Siale Piutau, 11 Niyi Adeolokun, 10 Callum Sheedy, 9 Andy Uren, 8 Jake Heenan, 7 Ben Earl, 6 Fitz Harding, 5 Joe Joyce, 4 Chris Vui, 3 John Afoa, 2 Will Capon, 1 Yann Thomas
Replacements: 16 George Kloska, 17 Jake Woolmore, 18 Max Lahiff, 19 Ed Holmes, 20 Dan Thomas, 21 Tom Kessell, 22 Ioan Lloyd, 23 Alapati Leiua
Referee: Christophe Ridley
Assistant Referees: Peter Allan and Jamie Leahy
TMO: Graham Hughes
Sunday, April 18
Bath Rugby v Leicester Tigers
(The Rec – Kick-off: 15.00, 15.00 GMT)
Bath Rugby have been defeated just twice in their last nine first-team matches, both in Premiership Rugby, at home to Exeter in Round 12 and away at London Irish in Round 15. Bath have won three of their last four home games in all competitions.
Leicester Tigers only defeat in their last six first XV fixtures was 31-47 at Exeter in Round 14 of Premiership Rugby. The Tigers have won three times on the road this season, at Bayonne in the European Challenge Cup, a declared win over Northampton in January and 20-14 at Gloucester in March.
Leicester beat Bath 36-31 at Mattioli Woods Welford Road on 3 January and have not achieved a Premiership Rugby season double over them since 2010/11. The Tigers have not been victorious at the Recreation Ground in Premiership Rugby for over a decade, the last success there being 37-6 in March 2011.
@rugby365com: Leicester Tiger by four points
Bath: 15 Anthony Watson, 14 Joe Cokanasiga, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Cameron Redpath, 11 Will Muir, 10 Josh Matavesi, 9 Ben Spencer, 8 Zach Mercer, 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Taulupe Faletau, 5 Charlie Ewels (captain), 4 Josh McNally, 3 Will Stuart, 2 Jack Walker, 1 Beno Obano
Replacements: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Henry Thomas, 19 Mike Williams, 20 Miles Reid, 21 Will Chudley, 22 Orlando Bailey, 23 Alex Gray
Leicester Tigers: 15 Freddie Steward, 14 Harry Potter, 13 Matías Moroni, 12 Dan Kelly, 11 Kini Murimurivalu, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Tommy Reffell, 6 George Martin, 5 Calum Green, 4 Harry Wells, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tom Youngs (captain), 1 Ellis Genge
Replacements: 16 Charlie Clare, 17 Luan de Bruin, 18 Joe Heyes, 19 Tomás Lavanini, 20 Luke Wallace, 21 Richard Wigglesworth, 22 Johnny McPhillips, 23 Matt Scott
Referee: Luke Pearce
Assistant Referees: Simon Harding and Jonathan Healy
TMO: Rowan Kitt