Premiership, Round 22: Teams and Predictions
THE LAST SHOT: The final round-robin phase of the Premiership is nothing sort of dramatic.
The final round of the English season is currently in disarray after news broke out on Friday that a significant amount of Sale Sharks players tested positive for COVID-19.
There are fears that the outbreak would result in Sale having to forfeit their match against Worcester Warriors, an outcome that would likely see the Sharks fall out of the top-four and fail to qualify for next weekend’s Premiership semifinals.
Despite the outbreak, Sale insisted their crucial Premiership game at home to Worcester on Sunday will go ahead.
However, news on Saturday revealed that the match between Sale Sharks and Worcester has been postponed until October 7.
Sixteen Sale Sharks players tested positive for coronavirus this week, throwing a spanner in the works of the Premiership’s regular-season finale this Sunday.
Four teams – Bath, Wasps, Sale Sharks and Bristol Bears – are battling to fill the three remaining qualification places behind the already-qualified Exeter Chiefs.
— rugby365.com (@rugby365com) October 3, 2020
Meanwhile, Saracens name their last Premiership team until 2021 at the earliest.
The scrumhalf has been at the club for 10 years since joining from Sale Sharks and is departing for pastures new after one final run out for the Men in Black.
This Sunday is certainly a big occasion for Richard Wigglesworth, who is set to win his 250th cap.
A key voice on the field and a big part of the group off it, he bows out as a Saracen with five Premiership titles and three Champions Cups to his name.
Wigglesworth is joined at halfback by Manu Vunipola – a partnership that aided Saracens’ victory over Ospreys in Europe back in January.
Unfortabley there will be no Allianz Park sign off for club captain Brad Barritt.
In his 12 years in north London, Barritt’s contribution has been immeasurable on and off the field. In total, he has featured 262 times in a Saracens shirt and has been an instrumental part of the club’s recent success as well as representing England and the British & Irish Lions.
Hooker Jamie George will skipper the side for the final game of the season
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Sunday, October 4
Gloucester Rugby v Northampton Saints
(Kingsholm, Kick-off: 15.00, 14.00 GMT)
Gloucester Rugby have slipped to three straight Premiership Rugby defeats since beating London Irish at Kingsholm on 5 September. Gloucester Rugby have won just two of their last six encounters at Kingsholm, against Leicester in round 17 and the Exiles in round 18.
Northampton Saints have lost their last seven matches in all competitions since beating London Irish at Twickenham Stoop on 22 August, they have not lost eight in succession in the professional era. Northampton beat Gloucester 33-26 at Franklin’s Gardens in round seven but have not achieved a Premiership Rugby double over them since 2016/17.
@rugby365com: Gloucester to win by 7 points
Gloucester: 15 Matt Banahan, 14 Louis Rees-Zammit, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 Jonny May, 10 Lloyd Evans, 9 Willi Heinz, 8 Jake Polledri, 7 Lewis Ludlow (captain), 6 Freddie Clarke, 5 Matias Alemanno, 4 Ed Slater, 3 Fraser Balmain, 2 Jack Singleton, 1 Val Rapava-Ruskin
Replacements: 16 James Hanson, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Jack Stanley, 19 Matt Garvey, 20 Ruan Ackermann, 21 Joe Simpson, 22 Mark Atkinson, 23 Ollie Thorley
Northampton Saints: TBC
Referee: Jack Makepeace
Assistant Referees: John Meredith & Simon McConnell.
TMO: Keith Lewis.
Leicester Tigers v Harlequins
(Welford Road, Kick-off: 15.00, 14.00 GMT)
Leicester Tigers only victory since round 16 of Premiership Rugby was 28-24 at home to Northampton Saints on 13 September. The Tigers have lost twice at Welford Road in 2020, against Bath in August and Sale in early September.
Harlequins last four games have all been won by the away side on the day.
The Londoners have won back-to-back fixtures on the road in Premiership Rugby but have not won three in succession on their travels since season 2012/13. The two clubs played out a 30-all draw at Twickenham Stadium in round seven – their first tie since they also met at Twickenham Stadium in the ‘Big Game’ in 2008. Harlequins most recent victory at Welford Road was in November 2013.
@rugby365com: Leicester Tiger to win by five points
Leicester Tigers: 15 Freddie Steward, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Kini Murimurivalu, 12 Matt Scott, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Hanro Liebenberg, 7 Tommy Reffell, 6 Luke Wallace, 5 Calum Green, 4 Harry Wells, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tom Youngs (captain), 1 Ellis Genge
Replacements: 16 Charlie Clare, 17 Ryan Bower, 18 Nephi Leatigaga, 19 Blake Enever, 20 Thom Smith, 21 Jack Van Poortvliet, 22 Zack Henry, 23 Jaco Taute
Harlequins: 15 Aaron Morris, 14 Joe Marchant, 13 James Lang, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Nathan Earle, 10 Brett Herron, 9 Danny Care, 8 Alex Dombrandt, 7 Will Evans, 6 Chris Robshaw (captain), 5 Glen Young, 4 Dino Lamb, 3 Simon Kerrod, 2 George Head, 1 Jordan Els
Replacements: 16 Jack Musk, 17 Marc Thomas, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 Tevita Cavubati, 20 Tom Lawday, 21 Martin Landajo, 22 Ben Tapuai, 23 Louis Lynagh
Referee: Matthew Carley
Assistant Referees: Mike Hudson & Gareth Holsgrove.
TMO: David Grashoff.
London Irish v Bristol Bears
(Twickenham Stoop, 15.00, 14.00 GMT)
London Irish’s nine-game losing run ended with their 22-19 victory at Exeter on Wednesday.
The Exiles have won just once at home in any competition since November: 24-20 against Gloucester in Premiership Rugby in February.
Bristol Bears only reversal in their last six first-team games was 35-59 against Wasps at Ricoh Arena on 13 September.
Bristol have won just one of their last three away games, at Worcester in round 18. The two clubs drew 27-all at Ashton Gate in December, their first tied fixture since 2002. Bristol’s most recent victory at Twickenham Stoop was 17-3 against Harlequins in the European Cup in December 2007.
The Bears have faced The Exiles at The Stoop just once before, going down 21-35 in December 1999.
@rugby365com: Bristol Bears to win by 10 points
London Irish: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Ben Loader, 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Phil Cokanasiga, 11 Ollie Hassell-Collins, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Albert Tuisue, 7 Jack Cooke, 6 Matt Rogerson (captain), 5 Chunya Munga, 4 George Nott, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Agustin Creevy, 1 Allan Dell
Replacements: 16 Matt Cornish, 17 Harry Elrington, 18 Ollie Hoskins, 19 Sebastian de Chaves, 20 Ben Donnell, 21 Ben Meehan, 22 Theo Brophy Clews, 23 James Stokes
Bristol Bears: 15 Ioan Lloyd, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Semi Radradra, 12 Siale Piutau (captain), 11 Piers O’Conor, 10 Max Malins, 9 Harry Randall, 8 Ben Earl, 7 Jake Heenan, 6 Chris Vui, 5 Joe Joyce, 4 Ed Holmes, 3 John Afoa, 2 Harry Thacker, 1 Jake Woolmore
Replacements: 16 Will Capon, 17 Yann Thomas, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 Mitch Eadie, 20 Fitz Harding, 21 Andy Uren, 22 Callum Sheedy, 23 Sam Bedlow
Referee: Karl Dickson
Assistant Referees: Adam Leal & Simon Harding.
TMO: Nigel Carrick.
Saracens v Bath Rugby
(Allianz Park, Kick-Off: 15.00, 14.00 GMT)
Saracens only win in the last four rounds of Premiership Rugby was 40-17 at home to Exeter on 13 September.
Saracens only defeat in any competition at Allianz Park since 19 October 2019 was 18-28 to Wasps on 5 September.
Bath Rugby’s only reversal in the last eight rounds of Premiership Rugby was 23-27 at home to Wasps on 31 August.
Bath have won all four away games they have played since Premiership Rugby resumed and have only once before won five in succession on their travels in the tournament, between November 2003 and March 2004.
Saracens only defeat in their last four encounters with Bath was 9-18 at the Recreation Ground in March 2019, whilst Bath’s most recent victory on Saracens’ soil was 16-14 at Vicarage Road in February 2010.
@rugby365com: Saracens to win by five points
Saracens: 15 Elliot Daly, 14 Alex Lewington, 13 Dom Morris, 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Sean Maitland, 10 Manu Vunipola, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Jackson Wray, 6 Callum Hunter-Hill, 5 Tim Swinson, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Jamie George (captain), 1 Richard Barrington
Replacements: 16 Tom Woolstencroft, 17 Sam Crean, 18 Alec Clarey, 19 Joel Kpoku, 20 Janco Venter, 21 Aled Davies, 22 Harry Sloan, 23 Rotimi Segun
Bath: 15 Anthony Watson, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Josh Matavesi, 11 Ruaridh McConnochie, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Ben Spencer, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Mike Williams, 5 Charlie Ewels (captain), 4 Josh McNally, 3 Will Stuart, 2 Tom Dunn, 1 Beno Obano
Replacements: 16 Jack Walker, 17 Lewis Boyce, 18 Christian Judge, 19 Will Spencer, 20 Miles Reid, 21 Will Chudley, 22 Cameron Redpath, 23 Joe Cokanasiga
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant Referees: Craig Maxwell-Keys & Paul Dix.
TMO: Luke Pearce.
Wasps v Exeter Chiefs
(Ricoh Arena, Kick-off: 15.00, 14.00 GMT)
Wasps only defeat in the last eleven rounds of Premiership Rugby was 11-20 at home to Sale on 25 August. Wasps have lost just once in their last six matches at Ricoh Arena.
Exeter Chiefs have lost their last two Premiership Rugby fixtures but have not lost three in succession in the competition since February 2018. The Chiefs were defeated in their most recent away game 17-40 at Saracens and have not lost back-to-back away games in Premiership Rugby since October 2019.
The Chiefs beat Wasps 38-3 at Sandy Park in round 5 but have not achieved a Premiership Rugby regular season’s double over them since 2015/16. Exeter have won twice before at Ricoh Arena, in December 2015 and September 2018.
@rugby365com: Wasps to win by three points
Wasps: 15 Matteo Minozzi, 14 Zach Kibirige, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Jimmy Gopperth, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Jacob Umaga, 9 Dan Robson (captain), 8 Tom Willis, 7 Thomas Young, 6 Brad Shields, 5 James Gaskell, 4 Will Rowlands, 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Tommy Taylor, 1 Simon McIntyre
Replacements: 16 Gabriel Oghre, 17 Tom West, 18 Jeff Toomaga-Allen, 19 Tim Cardall, 20 Alfie Barbeary, 21 Ben Vellacott, 22 Michael Le Bourgeois, 23 Rob Miller
Exeter Chiefs: 15 Phil Dollman, 14 Tom Wyatt, 13 Corey Baldwin, 12 Tom Hendrickson, 11 Alex Cuthbert, 10 Harvey Skinner, 9 Sam Maunder, 8 Charlie Wright, 7 Don Armand (captain), 6 Richard Capstick, 5 Dave Dennis, 4 Will Witty, 3 Marcus Street, 2 Jack Innard, 1 James Kenny
Replacements: 16 Elvis Taione, 17 Danny Southworth, 18 Alfie Petch, 19 Tom Price, 20 Lewis Pearson, 21 Stu Townsend, 22 Jack Walsh, 23 James Short
Referee: Tom Foley
Assistant Referees: Hamish Smales & Jonathan Healy.
TMO: Trevor Fisher