Preview: Premiership, Round 10
BACK WITH A VENGEANCE: After intense SIx ANtions matches, Premiership Rugby rushes back onto the screen in style.
To kick things off on Friday, league-leaders and last year’s finalists Exeter Chiefs travel to Gloucester Rugby.
Both teams will be looking to bounce back from defeat, as Exeter lost narrowly to Sale Sharks and Gloucester struggled away at Bristol Bears last time out.
There’s plenty on the line for both teams as Rob Baxter’s men look to cement top spot and fourth-place Gloucester attempt to consolidate their position, only one point ahead of Bristol Bears in fifth.
Then on Saturday, Leicester Tigers face Wasps.
Both teams have had a struggled thus far this campaign, sitting 11th and ninth respectively heading into this one, but with the League as tight as it is, both sides will be desperate to start a run.
Then rounding things off on Sunday, second-place Northampton Saints host the Bears.
Saints are looking to reassert themselves at the Gardens following a disappointing defeat to Irish but have won four of their five Premiership Rugby home games this year.
Bristol’s win over Gloucester means that they are well in the hunt for the semi-finals, and already have a marquee scalp on the road having won at Exeter.
*Article continues below…
Friday, February 14
Gloucester Rugby v Exeter Chiefs
Gloucester Rugby’s only two victories in the last seven rounds of Premiership Rugby were both at home, to Worcester and Bath in rounds 6 and 8. The Cherry & Whites have won their last four home games Kingsholm in all tournaments since Toulouse beat them there in November.
Exeter Chiefs four game-winning run in Premiership Rugby ended with their 19-22 home defeat to Sale in Round 9. The Chiefs have not been defeated away from home in any competition since they visited Bath in Round 2 of Premiership Rugby.
Gloucester beat Exeter 24-17 at Kingsholm in their most recent meeting but have not secured successive wins over the Devonians in Premiership Rugby since 2011.
Gloucester: 15 Matt Banahan, 14 Louis Rees-Zammit, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 Tom Marshall, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Joe Simpson, 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Lewis Ludlow, 6 Ruan Ackermann, 5 Franco Mostert (captain), 4 Gerbrandt Grobler, 3 Fraser Balmain, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Val Rapava-Ruskin
Replacements: 16 Todd Gleave, 17 Josh Hohneck, 18 Ciaran Knight, 19 Ed Slater, 20 Freddie Clarke, 21 Jake Polledri, 22 Callum Braley, 23 Mark Atkinson
Exeter Chiefs: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Tom O’Flaherty, 13 Ian Whitten, 12 Sam Hill, 11 Olly Woodburn, 10 Gareth Steenson (captain), 9 Nic White, 8 Sam Simmonds, 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 6 Dave Ewers, 5 Jonny Hill, 4 Jannes Kirsten, 3 Harry Williams, 2 Elvis Taione, 1 Ben Moon
Replacements: 16 Jordon Poole, 17 Billy Keast, 18 Enrique Pieretto, 19 Dave Dennis, 20 Sam Skinner, 21 Jack Maunder, 22 Harvey Skinner, 23 Phil Dollman
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Assistant Referees: Adam Leal & Phil Watters
TMO: Claire Hodnett.
*Article continues below…
Saturday, February 15
Harlequins v London Irish
(Twickenham Stoop, 15.00)
Harlequins have lost just once in the last five rounds of Premiership Rugby: 10-48 at Sale on January 3. Harlequins 41-14 victory against Saracens at Twickenham Stoop in Round 9 of Premiership Rugby was their first victory at the venue in any competition since 1 December.
London Irish beat Northampton 20-16 at Franklin’s Gardens in Round 9 of Premiership Rugby, their first victory in any competition since they beat Bayonne at the Madejski Stadium in November. The Exiles have not won successive away matches in Premiership Rugby since September 2014.
London Irish have won their last two matches against Harlequins in Premiership Rugby but have not won three in a row in the tournament against their London neighbours since 2006. London Irish’s 35-5 victory at The Stoop on their most recent visit in April 2018 was their first at the venue since 2009.
Harlequins: 15 Aaron Morris, 14 Ross Chisholm, 13 Cadan Murley, 12 Paul Lasike, 11 Gabriel Ibitoye, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Martin Landajo, 8 Alex Dombrandt, 7 Will Evans, 6 James Chisholm (captain), 5 Matt Symons, 4 Glen Young, 3 Will Collier, 2 Joe Gray, 1 Santiago Garcia Botta
Replacements: 16 Scott Baldwin, 17 Mark Lambert, 18 Simon Kerrod, 19 Tevita Cavubati, 20 Semi Kunatani, 21 Danny Care, 22 Brett Herron, 23 Niall Saunders
London Irish: 15 Ben Loader, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Terrence Hepetema, 11 Ollie Hassell-Collins, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Ben Meehan, 8 Albert Tuisue, 7 Blair Cowan, 6 Matt Rogerson, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Franco van der Merwe (captain), 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Dave Porecki, 1 Harry Elrington
Replacements: 16 Ben Atkins, 17 Allan Dell, 18 Ollie Hoskins, 19 Steve Mafi, 20 Ben Donnell, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Matt Williams, 23 James Stokes
Referee: JP Doyle
Assistant Referees: Mike Hudson & Greg Macdonald.
TMO: Sean Davey.
Leicester Tigers v Wasps
(Welford Road, 15.00)
Leicester Tigers only victory in the last six rounds of Premiership Rugby was 31-18 at home to Bristol on 4 January. The Tigers have lost just once at Welford Road in any tournament since October: 22-31 to Exeter in Round 6 of Premiership Rugby.
Wasps have won two of their last three Premiership Rugby encounters, with both of those victories being secured on the road, at Bristol and at Worcester. Wasps have won their last three away games in all tournaments but have not won four in succession on their travels since 2014.
The last six meetings between the two clubs in Premiership Rugby have all been won by the home side on the day whilst Wasps’only victory at Welford Road since 2008 came in September 2016.
Leicester Tigers: 15 Telusa Veainu, 14 Jonah Holmes, 13 Jaco Taute, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Rory Hughes, 10 Tom Hardwick, 9 Ben White, 8 Sione Kalamafoni, 7 Jordan Taufua, 6 Hanro Liebenberg, 5 Will Spencer, 4 Tomás Lavanini, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tom Youngs (captain), 1 Greg Bateman
Replacements: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Nephi Leatigaga, 18 Joe Heyes, 19 Harry Wells, 20 Tommy Reffell, 21 Harry Simmons, 22 Noel Reid, 23 George Worth
Wasps: 15 Marcus Watson, 14 Zach Kibirige, 13 Michael Le Bourgeois, 12 Jimmy Gopperth, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Jacob Umaga, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Thomas Young, 6 Jack Willis, 5 Thibaud Flament, 4 Will Rowlands, 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Tommy Taylor, 1 Simon McIntyre
Replacements: 16 Gabriel Oghre, 17 Zurabi Zhvania, 18 Biyi Alo, 19 Brad Shields, 20 Sione Vailanu, 21 Sam Wolstenholme, 22 Billy Searle, 23 Sam Spink
Referee: Karl Dickson
Assistant Referees: Simon Harding & Rob Warburton.
TMO: Trevor Fisher.
*Article continues below…
Saracens v Sale Sharks
(Allianz Park, 15.00)
Saracens 14-41 reversal at Harlequins in Round 9 of Premiership Rugby was their heaviest defeat in the competition since losing 23-64 to Wasps at Allianz Park in February 2016. Saracens have won their last six home games in all competitions since their 25-27 loss at home to Northampton in Round 1 of Premiership Rugby.
Sale Sharks have won their last two Premiership Rugby fixtures, at home to Harlequins and away at Exeter, but have not won three on the bounce in the competition since last January. The Sharks victory at The Chiefs in Round 9 of Premiership Rugby ended a six-game losing run on the road in all tournaments.
Sale won their most recent Premiership Rugby encounter with Saracens 24-18 at AJ Bell Stadium in Round 12 last season but have not won successive matches against the Londoners in the competition since 2002. The Sharks have lost on all six previous occasions they have visited Allianz Park in Premiership Rugby
Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Rotimi Segun, 13 Alex Lozowski, 12 Brad Barritt (captain), 11 Alex Lewington, 10 Manu Vunipola, 9 Tom Whiteley, 8 Jackson Wray, 7 Calum Clark, 6 Nick Isiekwe, 5 Callum Hunter-Hill, 4 Joel Kpoku, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Tom Woolstencroft, 1 Rhys Carre
Replacements: 16 Jack Singleton, 17 Richard Barrington, 18 Josh Ibuanokpe, 19 Andy Christie, 20 Sean Reffell, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Duncan Taylor, 23 Ali Crossdale
Sale Sharks: 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Sam James, 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11 Byron McGuigan, 10 Rob du Preez, 9 Will Cliff, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Ben Curry, 6 Jono Ross (captain), 5 Jean-Luc du Preez, 4 Bryn Evans, 3 Will Griff John, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Ross Harrsion
Replacements: 16 Akker van der Merwe, 17 Coenie Oosthuizen, 18 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 19 James Phillips, 20 Mark Wilson, 21 Gus Warr, 22 Luke James, 23 Denny Solomona
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant Referees: Tom Foley & Hamish Smales
TMO: Rowan Kitt.
Worcester Warriors v Bath Rugby
Worcester Warriors only victory in the last four rounds of Premiership Rugby was 20-6 at home to London Irish on 28 December. The Warriors have lost their last two home games in all tournaments but have not lost three in succession at Sixways since September 2017.
Bath Rugby have lost just once in their last four Gallagher Premiership Rugby encounters: 15-29 at Gloucester in Round 8. Bath’s solitary victory on the road in any tournament since October was 38-10 at London Irish in Premiership Rugby on 22 December.
Worcester have beaten Bath only twice since 2011, both in Gallagher Premiership Rugby at Sixways, in April 2017 and January 2019.
Worcester Warriors: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Scott van Breda, 13 Ollie Lawrence, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Nick David, 10 Duncan Weir, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Cornell du Preez, 7 Marco Mama, 6 Ted Hill, 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 Anton Brelser, 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Matt Moulds (captain), 1 Ethan Waller
Replacements: 16 Joe Taufete’e, 17 Ryan Bower, 18 Richard Palframan, 19 Andrew Kitchener, 20 Sam Lewis, 21 Michael Heaney, 22 Jono Lance, 23 Ryan Mills
Bath: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Jackson Willison, 12 Josh Matavesi, 11 Ruaridh McConnochie, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Will Chudley, 8 Zach Mercer, 7 Francois Louw (captain), 6 Tom Ellis, 5 Elliott Stooke, 4 Josh McNally, 3 Christian Judge, 2 Tom Dunn, 1 Beno Obano
Replacements: 16 Jack Walker, 17 Lewis Boyce, 18 Sam Nixon, 19 Mike Williams, 20 Taulupe Faletau, 21 Chris Cook, 22 Freddie Burns, 23 Max Wright
Referee: Christophe Ridley
Assistant Referees: Paul Dix & Wayne Falla.
TMO: David Rose.
Sunday, February 16
Northampton Saints v Bristol Bears
(Franklin’s Gardens, 15.00)
Northampton Saints 16-20 defeat at home to London Irish in Round 9 of Premiership Rugby ended a four-game winning run in all competitions. That defeat was the Saints first at home in Premiership Rugby since April.
Bristol Bears are undefeated in their last three first-team matches whilst their victory at home to Gloucester in Round 9 ended a four-game winless run in Premiership Rugby. Bristol’s only away win in the tournament this season came at Exeter in Round 4.
Bristol beat Northampton 26-24 at Franklin’s Gardens in round 16 last season but have not won successive matches against The Saints since 2007.
Northampton Saints: 15 Harry Mallinder, 14 Tom Collins, 13 Matt Proctor, 12 Rory Hutchinson, 11 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 10 James Grayson, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Teimana Harrison, 7 Tom Wood, 6 Mitch Eadie, 5 Alex Moon, 4 Alex Coles, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Mikey Haywood, 1 Alex Waller
Replacements: 16 James Fish, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Paul Hill, 19 Lewis Bean, 20 Devante Onojaife, 21 Alex Mitchell, 22 Fraser Dingwall, 23 Ahsee Tuala
Bristol Bears: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Piers O’Conor, 12 Sam Bedlow, 11 Alapati Leiua, 10 Callum Sheedy, 9 Harry Randall, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 Dan Thomas, 6 Steven Luatua (captain), 5 Chris Vui, 4 Dave Attwood, 3 John Afoa, 2 Shaun Malton, 1 Jake Woolmore
Replacements: 16 Will Capon, 17 Yann Thomas, 18 Lewis Thiede, 19 Joe Joyce, 20 Jake Heenan, 21 Andy Uren, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Henry Purdy
Referee: Matthew Carley
Assistant Referees: Karl Dickson & Wayne Barnes.
TMO: Graham Hughes.