Premiership Round 21: Teams and predictions
TWO ROUNDS TO GO: The battle for a place in the semifinals looks certain to go down to the wire, with Round 21 continuing this week and the final six matches of the regular season competition following on Sunday.
The first match of Round 21 was played last week – with Bath Rugby beating Gloucester 31-20 to move second in the table, four points ahead of Wasps.
Wasps have the opportunity to move back into second when they take their impressive recent record to the Twickenham Stoop for one of the game’s oldest fixtures Monday, against Harlequins.
Just two points currently separate Wasps in third and Bristol Bears in fifth.
Sandwiched in between those two great clubs are Sale Sharks who travel to Franklins Gardens to take on Northampton Saint in the only match on Tuesday.
We have three fixtures on Wednesday – at Sandy Park, Ashton Gate and Sixways as Exeter Chiefs, Bristol Bears and Worcester Warriors host their final home matches of the regular season.
The remaining Round 21 predictions and teams below video!
Tuesday, September 29
Northampton Saints v Sale Sharks
(Franklin’s Gardens – Kick-off: 17.30; 16.30 GMT)
Northampton Saints have won only once since the return to Premiership: 27-3 at London Irish in round 15.
The Saints are in the midst of their worst ever home slump in Premiership Rugby having lost six in succession at Franklin’s Gardens. Sale Sharks 22-37 defeat at home to Bath in round 20 ended a four-game winning run in Premiership.
The Sharks have won their last two away games in Premiership Rugby at Wasps and at Leicester, and are therefore going for a ‘Midlands treble”, but have not won three in a row on their travels in the competition since 2014. ‘
Sale’s only defeat in their last five Premiership Rugby fixtures against Northampton was 17-67 on their most recent visit to Franklin’s Gardens in February 2019.
The Sharks have won just once at Northampton since 2006: 34-25 in March 2018.
@rugby365com: Sale Sharks by 12 points
Northampton Saints: 15 George Furbank, 14 Matt Proctor, 13 Fraser Dingwall, 12 Rory Hutchinson, 11 Ahsee Tuala, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Alex Mitchell, 8 Shaun Adendorff, 7 Lewis Ludlam (captain), 6 Courtney Lawes, 5 Api Ratuniyarawa, 4 David Ribbans, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Sam Matavesi, 1 Manny Iyogun.
Replacements: 16 James Fish, 17 Alex Seville, 18 Ehren Painter, 19 Nick Isiekwe, 20 Teimana Harrison, 21 Jamie Gibson, 22 Henry Taylor, 23 Taqele Naiyaravoro.
Sale Sharks: 15 Luke James, 14 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 13 Sam James, 12 Manu Tuilagi, 11 Simon Hammersley, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Francois de Klerk, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Tom Curry, 6 Jono Ross (captain), 5 Jean-Luc du Preez, 4 Cobus Wiese, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Curtis Langdon, 1 Ross Harrison.
Replacements: 16 Armand van der Merwe, 17 Valery Morozov, 18 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 19 James Phillips, 20 Cameron Nield, 21 Will Cliff, 22 AJ MacGinty, 23 Marland Yarde.
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant referees: Sara Cox & Jamie Leahy
TMO: Rowan Kitt
Wednesday, September 30
Exeter Chiefs v London Irish
(Sandy Park – Kick-off: 18.30; 17.30 GMT)
Exeter Chiefs 17-40 reversal at Saracens in round 20 ended a seven-game winning run in Premiership.
The Chiefs have lost just twice at Sandy Park in Premiership Rugby this season, to Bristol Bears in round 4 and Sale Sharks in round 9.
London Irish have lost their last nine Premiership encounters and have only once had a longer sequence of defeats in the competition losing fourteen consecutive games in season 2017/18.
The Exiles have won just three times on the road in Premiership this season, at Wasps in round 1, Northampton Saints in round 9 and Harlequins in round 10.
Exeter’s only loss in their last dozen encounters with London Irish was 26-28 at Madejski Stadium in January 2015. The Exiles only previous victory at Sandy Park came on their first visit in October 2010.
@rugby365com: Chiefs by 18 points
Exeter Chiefs: 15 Phil Dollman, 14 Facundo Cordero, 13 Tom Hendrickson, 12 Ollie Devoto, 11 Olly Woodburn, 10 Harvey Skinner, 9 Stu Townsend, 8 Aaron Hinkley, 7 Don Armand (captain), 6 Richard Capstick, 5 Tom Price, 4 Will Witty, 3 Marcus Street, 2 Jack Innard, 1 Billy Keast.
Replacements: 16 Elvis Taione, 17 James Kenny, 18 Alfie Petch, 19 Dave Dennis, 20 Charlie Wright, 21 Sam Maunder, 22 Jack Walsh, 23 Corey Baldwin.
London Irish: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Ben Loader, 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Phil Cokanasiga, 11 Ollie Hassell-Collins, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Ben Meehan, 8 Albert Tuisue, 7 Ben Donnell, 6 Matt Rogerson (captain), 5 Sebastian de Chaves, 4 George Nott, 3 Ollie Hoskins, 2 Matt Cornish, 1 Harry Elrington.
Replacements: 16 Agustin Creevy, 17 Will Goodrick-Clarke, 18 Lovejoy Chawatama, 19 Chunya Munga, 20 Jack Cooke, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Theo Brophy Clews, 23 James Stokes.
Referee: Ian Tempest
Assistant referees: Adam Leal & Gareth Holsgrove
TMO: Luke Pearce
Bristol Bears v Leicester Tigers
(Ashton Gate – Kick-off: 17.30; 16.30 GMT)
Bristol Bears have won just twice in the last five rounds of Premiership, at Worcester in round 18 and at home to Northampton in round 19.
The Bears only defeat at Ashton Gate in Premiership in 2020 was to table topping Exeter on 25 August.
Leicester Tigers three-game losing run in Premiership ended with their 28-24 home victory over Northampton in round 20.
The Tigers have not won back-to-back encounters in the tournament since October 2018. Leicester’s most recent away win in Premiership Rugby was at Newcastle in April 2019.
The Tigers have lost just two of their last ten fixtures against Bristol in Premiership Rugby, in successive matches in December 2018 and April 2019.
The Tigers have made three previous visits to Ashton Gate with their only victory being 21-16 in November 2016.
@rugby365com: Bears by seven points
Bristol Bears: 15 Ioan Lloyd, 14 Niyi Adeolokun, 13 Piers O’Conor, 12 Sam Bedlow, 11 Alapati Leiua, 10 Callum Sheedy, 9 Andy Uren, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 Dan Thomas, 6 Steven Luatua (captain), 5 Joe Joyce, 4 Dave Attwood, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Bryan Byrne, 1 Yann Thomas.
Replacements: 16 Harry Thacker, 17 Max Lahiff, 18 Jake Woolmore, 19 Ed Holmes, 20 Jake Heenan, 21 Harry Randall, 22 Harry Ascherl, 23 Semi Radradra.
Leicester Tigers: 15 Freddie Steward, 14 Harry Potter, 13 Dan Kelly, 12 George Worth, 11 Harry Simmons, 10 Zack Henry, 9 Ben White, 8 Thom Smith (captain), 7 Luke Wallace, 6 Ollie Chessum, 5 Blake Enever, 4 Cameron Henderson, 3 Joe Heyes, 2 Jake Kerr, 1 Facundo Gigena.
Replacements: 16 Shalva Mamukashvili, 17 Ryan Bower, 18 Nephi Leatigaga, 19 Sam Lewis, 20 Jordan Coghlan, 21 Jack Van Poortvliet, 22 Johnny McPhillips, 23 David Williams.
Referee: Christophe Ridley
Assistant referees: Tom Foley & Paul Dix
TMO: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Worcester Warriors v Saracens
(Sixways – Kick-off: 17.30; 16.30 GMT)
Worcester Warriors victory at London Irish in round 20 ended a three-game losing run in Premiership.
The Warriors have won just once at Sixways in any competition since January: 2914 against Harlequins in round 16 of Premiership Rugby.
Saracens record since the resumption of Premiership has been won four, lost three.
Saracens have won just two of their last seven away games in Premiership, at Northampton in round 12 and at London Irish in round 17.
The Warriors have beaten Saracens just twice in Premiership Rugby since 2012, both at Sixways, in 2017 and 2019.
@rugby365com: Warriors by eight points
Worcester Warriors: 15 Melani Nanai, 14 Perry Humphreys, 13 Ollie Lawrence, 12 Ashley Beck, 11 Noah Heward, 10 Billy Searle, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Cornell du Preez, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Ted Hill (captain), 5 Justin Clegg, 4 Anton Bresler, 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Niall Annett, 1 Ethan Waller.
Replacements: 16 Beck Cutting, 17 Callum Black, 18 Richard Palframan, 19 Joe Batley, 20 Marco Mama, 21 Gareth Simpson, 22 Duncan Weir, 23 Chris Pennell.
Saracens: 15 Will Hooley, 14 Rotimi Segun, 13 Charlie Watson, 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Ali Crossdale, 10 Manu Vunipola, 9 Tom Whiteley, 8 Janco Venter, 7 Ollie Stonham, 6 Callum Hunter-Hill, 5 Cameron Boon, 4 Joel Kpoku, 3 Alec Clarey, 2 Tom Woolstencroft, 1 Richard Barrington.
Replacements: 16 Sam Crean, 17 Robin Hislop, 18 Josh Ibuanokpe, 19 Jon Kpoku, 20 Ethan Benson, 21 Alex Day, 22 Harry Sloan, 23 Elliott Obatoyinbo.
Referee: Karl Dickson
Assistant referees: Greg Macdonald & TBC
TMO: Sara Cox