Premiership, Round 22 - Teams and Predictions
THE LAST SHOT: The battle to finish top of the Premiership table and for the remaining European top tier spots will be decided this Saturday, as the regular season draws to a dramatic close.
Exeter Chiefs and Sale Sharks will lock horns at Sandy Park with an all-important home semi-final place up for grabs, with the hosts requiring just one point to clinch second place.
Sharks kept their top two hopes alive with a bonus-point 45-12 win over Harlequins last Saturday and they’ll need a repeat performance to leapfrog Chiefs in second place.
Rob Baxter’s men could also still overtake the league leaders Bristol Bears with a win.
However, Chiefs will be relying on an upset at Aston Gate when Bristol Bears host London Irish, with the visitors still right in the mix for a Champions Cup spot.
Irish need to better Bath Rugby’s result to guarantee a place at Europe’s top table, while a Bears victory would guarantee top spot.
Elsewhere, the remaining Premiership Rugby semi-finalists, Harlequins, will take on Newcastle Falcons.
Harlequins will look to bounce back from their loss against Sharks by beating Falcons, who kept their Champions Cup hopes alive last weekend with a 24-14 win over Worcester Warriors.
Last season’s Premiership finalists Wasps will take on Leicester Tigers, with both sides also looking to guarantee their places in the Champions Cup next season.
A loss for either side would put their chances of European qualification in jeopardy.
Northampton Saints have already secured their Champions Cup berth, but their opponents Bath Rugby still have work to do in their fixture.
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We take a closer look at all Round 22’s matches!
Saturday, June 12
Exeter Chiefs v Sale Sharks
(Sandy Park, Kick-off: 15.00; 14.00 GMT)
Exeter Chiefs have won their last six Premiership Rugby matches since their 18-34 defeat at Gloucester in Round 15. The Chiefs have lost just twice at Sandy Park in Premiership Rugby this season, to Bristol in Round 6 and Northampton in Round 10.
Sale Sharks have won their last eight Premiership Rugby matches their best sequence in the competition. The Sharks have lost just three times away from home in Premiership Rugby this season, at Newcastle in Round 2, at Harlequins in Round 10 and at Northampton in Round 13.
Sale have won two of their last three matches against the Chiefs, with their 22-19 victory at Sandy Park on their most recent visit in January 2020 being their first win at the venue since 2014.
@rugby365com: Chiefs to win by five points
Exeter Chiefs: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Ollie Devoto, 11 Tom O’Flaherty, 10 Joe Simmonds (captain), 9 Jack Maunder, 8 Sam Simmonds, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 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 Marcus Street, 19 Sean Lonsdale, 20 Richard Capstick, 21 Stu Townsend, 22 Harvey Skinner, 23 Ian Whitten
Sale Sharks: 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Byron McGuigan, 13 Sam James, 12 Manu Tuilagi, 11 Arron Reed, 10 AJ MacGinty, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Tom Curry (captain), 6 Cameron Neild, 5 Jean-Luc du Preez, 4 Cobus Wiese, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Akker van der Merwe, 1 Ross Harrison
Replacements: 16 Curtis Langdon, 17 Bevan Rodd, 18 Will-Griff John, 19 James Phillips, 20 Ben Curry, 21 Will Cliff, 22 Robert du Preez, 23 Rohan Janse van Rensburg
Referee: Karl Dickson
Assistant Referees: Greg Macdonald & Wayne Falla
TMO: Clare Hodnett
Bristol Bears v London Irish
(Aston Gate – Kick-off: 15.00; 14.00 GMT)
Bristol Bears have lost just twice in Premiership Rugby since Round 8, at home to Exeter in Round 17 and away at Sale in Round 20. The Bears have suffered only two home defeats in Premiership Rugby this season, to Sale in February and Exeter in April.
London Irish have lost their last six Premiership Rugby matches since beating Bath at the Brentford Community Stadium on 27 March. The Exiles only away win in Premiership Rugby this season came on a trip to Wasps in Round 11.
The last four meetings between the two clubs in Premiership Rugby have been evenly split with a win apiece plus two draws. Irish have made just two previous visits to Ashton Gate, winning there 44-27 in the Premiership Rugby Cup in October 2019, and drawing 27-all in Premiership Rugby two months later.
@rugby365com: Bristol Bears by seven points
Bristol Bears: 15 Max Malins, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Semi Radradra, 12 Siale Piutau, 11 Henry Purdy, 10 Ioan Lloyd, 9 Harry Randall, 8 Ben Earl, 7 Dan Thomas, 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Joe Joyce, 4 Dave Attwood, 3 Max Lahiff, 2 Harry Thacker, 1 Yann Thomas
Replacements: 16 Will Capon, 17 Jake Woolmore, 18 John Afoa, 19 Chris Vui, 20 Jake Heenan, 21 Andy Uren, 22 Callum Sheedy, 23 Alapati Leiua
London Irish: 15 Tom Parton, 14 James Stokes, 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Terrence Hepetema, 11 Ollie Hassell-Collins, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Albert Tuisue, 7 Blair Cowan (captain), 6 Sean O’Brien, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Adam Coleman, 3 Lovejoy Chawatama, 2 Agustin Creevy, 1 Will Goodrick-Clarke
Replacements: 16 Matt Cornish, 17 Facundo Gigena, 18 Ollie Hoskins, 19 George Nott, 20 Jack Cooke, 21 Matt Rogerson, 22 Nick Phipps, 23 Jacob Atkins
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Assistant Referees: Anthony Woodthorpe & Phil Watters
TMO: Andrew Jackson
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Harlequins v Newcastle Falcons
(Twickenham Stoop – Kick-off: 15.00; 14.00 GMT)
Harlequins last four matches in Premiership Rugby have all been won by the home side on the day. Quins have lost only once at the Twickenham Stoop in 2021, 21-57 to Ulster in the European Challenge Cup Round of 16.
Newcastle Falcons only defeat in the last four rounds of Premiership Rugby was 3-74 at Exeter on 30 May. The Falcons have won just once away from home in any competition in 2021: 28-24 at Ospreys in the European Challenge Cup Round of 16.
The last dozen meetings between the two clubs in Premiership Rugby have been evenly split with six wins apiece. The Falcons only victory at the Stoop in Premiership Rugby since 2000 was 28-10 in February 2018.
@rugby365com: Harlequins by four points
Harlequins: 15 Tyrone Green, 14 Louis Lynagh, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Aaron Morris, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Danny Care, 8 Alex Dombrandt (captain), 7 Jack Kenningham, 6 Tom Lawday, 5 Dino Lamb, 4 Matt Symons, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Joe Marler
Replacements: 16 Joe Gray, 17 Santiago Garcia Botta, 18 Will Collier, 19 Hugh Tizard, 20 James Chisholm, 21 Martin Landajo, 22 Luke Northmore, 23 Cadan Murley
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Joel Hodgson, 14 Adam Radwan, 13 George Wacokecoke, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 Mateo Carreras, 10 Brett Connon, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Callum Chick, 7 Mark Wilson (captain), 6 Will Welch, 5 Sean Robinson, 4 Greg Peterson, 3 Trevor Davison, 2 George McGuigan, 1 Adam Brocklebank
Replacements: 16 Jamie Blamire, 17 Kyle Cooper, 18 Rodney Ah You, 19 Philip van der Walt, 20 Carl Fearns, 21 Michael Young, 22 Pete Lucock, 23 Alex Tait
Referee: Christophe Ridley
Assistant Referees: Jack Makepeace & Simon McConnell
TMO: Nige Carrick
Wasps v Leicester Tigers
(Ricoh Arena – Kick-off: 15.00; 14.00 GMT)
Wasps last eight matches in Premiership Rugby have resulted in four wins and four defeats. Wasps have won their last two games at the Ricoh Arena in Premiership Rugby to end a five-game losing run at the venue in the tournament.
Leicester Tigers last six first team games have been evenly split with three wins and three defeats. The Tigers have won twice away from home (excluding declared wins) in Premiership Rugby this season, at Gloucester in Round 13 and at Worcester in Round 20. They have not won successive away games in the tournament since May 2018.
The last seven meetings between the two clubs in Premiership Rugby have all gone the way of home field advantage. Leicester have visited the Ricoh Arena on eight previous occasions in all tournaments with their only victory being on their very first visit in May 2015.
@rugby365com: Wasps by three points
Wasps: 15 Rob Miller, 14 Marcus Watson, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Michael Le Bourgeois, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Jacob Umaga, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Sione Vailanu, 7 Brad Shields (captain), 6 Tom Willis, 5 James Gaskell, 4 Will Rowlands, 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Tommy Taylor, 1 Simon McIntyre
Replacements: 16 Gabriel Oghre, 17 Ben Harris, 18 Jeff Toomaga-Allen, 19 Tim Cardall, 20 Alfie Barbeary, 21 Ben Vellacott, 22 Jimmy Gopperth, 23 Juan de Jongh
Leicester Tigers: 15 Zack Henry, 14 Freddie Steward, 13 Matt Scott, 12 Dan Kelly, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Johnny McPhillips, 9 Jack Van Poortvliet, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Hanro Liebenberg, 6 George Martin, 5 Cameron Henderson, 4 Harry Wells, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Julián Montoya, 1 Ellis Genge (captain)
Replacements: 16 Charlie Clare, 17 James Whitcombe, 18 Joe Heyes, 19 Tomás Lavanini, 20 Ollie Chessum, 21 Ben Youngs, 22 Matías Moroni, 23 Kini Murimurivalu
Referee: Luke Pearce
Assistant Referees: Mike Hudson & Jonathan Healy
TMO: Tom Foley
Bath Rugby v Northampton Saints
(Recreation Ground – Kick-off: 15.00; 14.00 GMT)
Bath Rugby’s match with Gloucester last weekend was called off due to the health crisis. Bath have lost their last five matches in all competitions since beating Leicester 21-20 at the Recreation Ground in Round 16 of Premiership Rugby. Bath have been defeated in their last three first team matches at The Rec and have not lost four in succession at the venue in the professional era.
Northampton Saints only victory in the last four rounds of Premiership Rugby was 30-25 at home to Wasps on 29 May. The Saints 18-10 reversal on their most recent away trip to Newcastle ended a three-game winning run on the road.
Bath’s only defeat to Northampton in their last six Premiership Rugby encounters was 26-27 at Franklin’s Gardens in February 2019. Northampton have lost on their last five visits to Bath in all tournaments.
@rugby365com: Bath by sevens points
Bath: 15 Tom de Glanville, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Max Ojomoh, 11 Joe Cokanasiga, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Ben Spencer, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Miles Reid, 5 Charlie Ewels (captain), 4 Josh McNally, 3 Christian Judge, 2 Jacques du Toit, 1 Beno Obano
Replacements: 16 Tom Doughty, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Henry Thomas, 19 Will Spencer, 20 Zach Mercer, 21 Josh Bayliss, 22 Will Chudley, 23 Orlando Bailey
Northampton Saints: 15 Tommy Freeman, 14 Tom Collins, 13 Fraser Dingwall, 12 Rory Hutchinson, 11 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 10 James Grayson, 9 Alex Mitchell, 8 Tom Wood, 7 Lewis Ludlam (captain), 6 Courtney Lawes, 5 Alex Moon, 4 Alex Coles, 3 Paul Hill, 2 Mike Haywood, 1 Nick Auterac
Replacements: 16 James Fish, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Ehren Painter, 19 Api Ratuniyarawa, 20 Ollie Newman, 21 Connor Tupai, 22 Matt Proctor, 23 Josh Gillespie
Referee: Ian Tempest
Assistant Referees: Hamish Smales & Peter Allan
TMO: David Rose