Premiership, Round Six - Teams and Predictions
BATTLE OF THE FAFS: The Christmas and New Year festivities may be over, but there is sure to be plenty of joy and cheer on offer throughout five mouth-watering Premiership Rugby battles in Round 6.
The action begins with two hotly-anticipated Friday fixtures, as last season’s beaten finalists Wasps travel to Bath Rugby for their clash, which kicks off minutes before Worcester Warriors’ trip to Sale Sharks.
Wasps ran riot at the Ricoh last time out with a thumping 34-5 win over defending champions Exeter Chiefs – exacting revenge for their Twickenham defeat in October – and Lee Blackett’s men will be desperate to back up that performance with victory at the Rec.
Bath meanwhile will be looking to bounce back from their narrow defeat at Leicester Tigers last time out against the Coventry-based outfit.
Fourth-placed Sale will look to strengthen their title bid at home to Worcester Warriors, who return to the match arena after their Round 5 tie against Harlequins was cancelled due to coronavirus.
On Saturday, all eyes will surely be on Bristol Bears’ trip to Exeter Chiefs, with Premiership Rugby’s top two locking horns for the first time this season and both hoping to end the weekend top of the pile.
While Rob Baxter’s Chiefs are vying to bounce back from their first defeat of the season, Pat Lam’s Bears will be confident of success, having ended Newcastle Falcons’ unbeaten start in Round 5.
Falcons – who marked their return to the top-flight with four successive wins before defeat last week – will be itching to return to winning ways at home to Gloucester.
Neither Harlequins nor London Irish have handled a ball since December, and the capital rivals will do battle in Sunday’s only fixture.
Friday, January 8
Bath Rugby v Wasps
(Recreation Ground- Kick-off: 19.45, 19.45 GMT)
Bath Rugby’s only victory (excluding the unplayed match against London Irish) in their last six Premiership matches was 33-17 at Worcester in Round 3. Bath have lost their last two matches at the Recreation Ground, 12-19 to Newcastle in Premiership Rugby and 19-23 to Scarlets in the European Champions Cup.
Wasps have won their last four matches in all tournaments since their 17-27 reversal at home to Newcastle in Round 3 of Premiership Rugby. Wasps have lost just once on the road in any tournament since February: 24-40 at Gloucester on 28 November.
Wasps completed a Premiership Rugby season double over Bath in 2019/20, something they hadn’t achieved since 2017. Wasps have been victorious on five of their last seven appearances to the Rec in all competitions.
@rugby365com: Wasps by 12 points.
Bath: 15 Tom de Glanville, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Cameron Redpath, 11 Ruaridh McConnochie, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Ben Spencer, 8 Zach Mercer, 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Taulupe Faletau, 5 Charlie Ewels (c), 4 Josh McNally, 3 Will Stuart, 2 Tom Dunn, 1 Beno Obano
Replacements: 16 Jack Walker, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Christian Judge, 19 Elliott Stooke, 20 Josh Bayliss, 21 Will Chudley, 22 Josh Matavesi, 23 Gabriel Hamer-Webb
Wasps: 15 Lima Sopoaga, 14 Paolo Odogwu, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Michael Le Bourgeois, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Jacob Umaga, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Jack Willis, 7 Thomas Young, 6 James Gaskell, 5 Will Rowlands, 4 Joe Launchbury (c), 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Tom Cruse, 1 Tom West
Replacements: 16 Tommy Taylor, 17 Simon McIntyre, 18 Jeff Toomaga-Allen, 19 Brad Shields, 20 Tom Willis, 21 Will Porter, 22 Jimmy Gopperth, 23 Marcus Watson
Referee: Matthew Carley
Assistant Referees: Greg Macdonald, Gareth Holsgrove
TMO: Tom Foley
Sale Sharks v Worcester Warriors
(AJ Bell Stadium – Kick-off: 20.00; 20.00 GMT)
Sale Sharks’ three game losing run in all competitions ended with their late comeback win at Gloucester last weekend. The Sharks were narrowly defeated by Wasps on their most recent appearance at AJ Bell Stadium, and excluding walkovers have not lost back to back encounters at the venue in Premiership Rugby since New Year 2017.
Worcester Warriors were awarded a victory over Harlequins last weekend, but on the pitch, they have been defeated in their last five fixtures in all tournaments. The Warriors have won only once away from home in any competitions since November 2019: 40-25 at London Irish in September.
Worcester have won their last three matches against Sale in all tournaments, although the two should have met at AJ Bell Stadium in Round 22 last year in a game that was eventually cancelled. Worcester
were awarded that match but have been defeated on all nine previous occasions they have actually played at AJ Bell Stadium.
@rugby365com: Sale Sharks by 5 points.
Sale Sharks: 15 Sam James, 14 Tom Roebuck, 13 Robert du Preez, 12 Sam Hill, 11 Marland Yarde, 10 AJ MacGinty, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Josh Beaumont, 7 Tom Curry, 6 Jono Ross (captain), 5 JP du Preez, 4 Cobus Wiese, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Akker van der Merwe, 1 Bevan Rodd
Replacements: 16 Curtis Langdon, 17 Valery Morozov, 18 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 19 James Phillips, 20 Sam Dugdale, 21 Will Cliff, 22 Luke James, 23 Byron McGuigan
Worcester Warriors: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Perry Humphreys, 13 Oli Morris, 12 Ashley Beck, 11 Nick David, 10 Duncan Weir, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Marco Mama, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Ted Hill (captain), 5 Justin Clegg, 4 Anton Bresler, 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Niall Annett, 1 Ethan Waller
Replacements: 16 Isaac Miller, 17 Marc Thomas, 18 Richard Palframan, 19 George Merrick, 20 Cornell du Preez, 21 Sam Lewis, 22 Gareth Simpson, 23 Jamie Shillcock
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant Referees: Paul Dix, Jamie Leahy
TMO: Claire Hodnett
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Saturday, January 9
Newcastle Falcons v Gloucester Rugby
(Kingston Park – kick-off: 14.00; 14.00 GMT)
Newcastle Falcons four game winning start to the new campaign ended with their 17-29 reversal to Bristol at Ashton Gate on New Year’s Day. The Falcons have been defeated only once at Kingston Park in any tournament since May 2019: 20-33 to Cardiff Blues in Round one of this year’s European Challenge Cup.
Gloucester Rugby have won only once in their last five first team fixtures: 38-34 against Ulster in Round 2 of the European Champions Cup. The Cherry & Whites have been defeated in their last six away matches in all competitions whilst their only victory on the road in any since October 2019 came at Worcester in August.
Gloucester have won their last three encounters with the Falcons in all tournaments since Newcastle’s 21-20 victory at Kingsholm in March 2018. Gloucester have won on three of their last four visits to Kingston Park in Premiership Rugby.
@rugby365com: Newcastle Falcons by 7 points.
Newcastle: 15 Tom Penny, 14 Adam Radwan, 13 Matias Orlando, 12 Toby Flood, 11 Ben Stevenson, 10 Brett Connon, 9 Sam Stuart, 8 Gary Graham, 7 Mark Wilson (captain), 6 Sean Robinson, 5 Marco Fuser, 4 Greg Peterson, 3 Logovi’i Mulipola, 2 Jamie Blamire, 1 Trevor Davison.
Replacements: 16 George McGuigan, 17 Adam Brocklebank, 18 Mark Tampin, 19 Darren Barry, 20 Philip van der Walt, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Joel Hodgson, 23 George Wacokecoke.
Gloucester: 15 Kyle Moyle, 14 Louis Rees-Zammit, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Mark Atkinson, 11 Jonny May, 10 Lloyd Evans, 9 Joe Simpson, 8 Ruan Ackermann, 7 Lewis Ludlow (captain), 6 Alex Craig, 5 Matias Alemanno, 4 Matt Garvey, 3 Fraser Balmain, 2 James Hanson, 1 Val Rapava-Ruskin.
Replacements: 16 Henry Walker, 17 Alex Seville, 18 Jamal Ford-Robinson, 19 Jamie Gibson, 20 Seb Nagle-Taylor, 21 Charlie Chapman, 22 Billy Twelvetrees, 23 Santiago Carreras.
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Assistant Referees: Hamish Smales & Wayne Falla.
TMO: Stuart Terheege.
Exeter Chiefs v Bristol Bears
(Sandy Park – kick-off: 16.30; 16.30)
Exeter Chiefs’ eight game winning run in all tournaments (excluding the declared defeat to Toulouse) ended at Wasps on Saturday. The Chiefs have lost only once at Sandy Park in any competition since February: 19 -22 to London Irish in September.
Bristol Bears have lost only once in their last six first team matches: 38-51 at home to Clermont Auvergne in the European Champions Cup. The Bears have won their last two away games at Connacht in the Champions Cup and at Harlequins in Gallagher Premiership rugby.
Exeter have been defeated only once by Bristol in all tournaments since 2009: 17-20 the last time the two clubs met at Sandy Park in November 2019.
@rugby365com: Exeter Chiefs by 12 points.
Exeter Chiefs: 15 Jack Walsh, 14 Olly Woodburn, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Ollie Devoto, 11 Ian Whitten, 10 Joe Simmonds (captain), 9 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 8 Sam Simmonds, 7 Don Armand, 6 Dave Ewers, 5 Jonny Hill, 4 Will Witty, 3 Harry Williams, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 1 Alec Hepburn.
Replacements: 16 Jack Yeandle, 17 James Kenny, 18 Tomas Francis, 19 Tom Price, 20 Sam Skinner, 21 Sam Maunder, 22 Corey Baldwin, 23 James Short.
Bristol Bears: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Semi Radradra, 12 Piers O’Conor, 11 Siva Naulago, 10 Callum Sheedy, 9 Harry Randall, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 Ben Earl, 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Joe Joyce, 4 Dave Attwood, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Bryan Byrne, 1 Jake Woolmore.
Replacements: 16 Will Capon, 17 Yann Thomas, 18 John Afoa, 19 James Dun, 20 Dan Thomas, 21 Andy Uren, 22 Ioan Lloyd, 23 Alapati Leiua.
Referee: Karl Dickson
Assistant Referees: Robert Warburton & Jonathan Healy.
TMO: David Rose.
Sunday, January 10
Harlequins v London Irish
(Twickenham Stoop – Kick-off: 15.00; 15.00 GMT)
Harlequins most recent victory was 34-24 at Gloucester in Round 3 of Premiership Rugby. Harlequins have lost their last five home games at Twickenham Stoop since beating Northampton there in August.
London Irish’s last two fixtures in Gallagher Premiership Rugby were both not played due to the health crisis, their last actual game in the tournament was a 13-21 home defeat to Sale on 6 December. The Exiles won their most recent away game 34-8 at Agen in the European Challenge Cup.
Harlequins 38-15 victory over the Exiles at the Stoop in September ended a three-game losing run to London Irish in Premiership Rugby. London Irish completed the 2019/20 campaign by moving their last five home games to the Stoop, but unfortunately lost all five fixtures.
@rugby365com: Harlequins by 10 points.
Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Louis Lynagh, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 James Lang, 11 Cadan Murley, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Scott Steele, 8 Alex Dombrandt (captain), 7 Will Evans, 6 Tom Lawday, 5 Glen Young, 4 Matt Symons, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Elia Elia, 17 Jordan Els, 18 Simon Kerrod, 19 Hugh Tizard, 20 Archie White, 21 Martin Landajo, 22 Ben Tapuai, 23 Aaron Morris.
London Irish: 15 Tom Parton, 14 James Stokes, 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Theo Brophy Clews, 11 Ollie Hassell-Collins, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Ben Meehan, 8 Albert Tuisue, 7 Blair Cowan, 6 Matt Rogerson (captain), 5 Steve Mafi, 4 Andrei Mahu, 3 Ollie Hoskins, 2 Motu Matu’u, 1 Harry Elrington.
Replacements: 16 Agustin Creevy, 17 Will Goodrick-Clarke, 18 Luke Green, 19 Rob Simmons, 20 Ben Donnell 21 Seán O’Brien, 22 Nick Phipps, 23 Billy Meakes.
Referee: Tom Foley
Assistant Referees: Anthony Woodthorpe & Philip Watters.
TMO: David Grashoff.