Preview: Premiership, Round 11
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: After a short break Premiership Rugby returned with aplomb last weekend – and the rip-roaring action looks set to continue with Round 11.
Thanks to their victory at Gloucester Rugby to open Round 10 – as well as defeats for second-place Northampton Saints and third-place Sale Sharks – Exeter Chiefs now have a four-point lead at the top of the table.
But with just ten points separating Sale Sharks in third and Leicester Tigers in 11th, the make-up of the Premiership Rugby table come June is anyone’s guess.
We have two Friday night games for you this week with Wasps hosting Saracens, while at the AJ Bell Stadium Leicester will visit Sale.
There are two further games on Saturday with Bath Rugby welcoming Harlequins to The Rec while Gloucester Rugby will be looking to get back to winning ways as they visit London Irish.
And on Sunday, Exeter Chiefs and Northampton Saints will lock horns at Sandy Parks, while at the same time Bristol Bears play host to a Worcester Warriors side hoping to avoid a fourth consecutive Premiership Rugby defeat.
Friday, February 21
Sale Sharks v Leicester Tigers
(AJ Bell Stadium, 19.45)
Sale Sharks have lost just once at AJ Bell Stadium in Premiership Rugby in their last eight matches: 16-18 to Gloucester in the opening round this campaign.
Leicester Tigers have won just three matches in the opening ten rounds of Premiership Rugby but their only defeat in their last four matches in the tournament was 10-13 at Bath on 25 January. Tigers have not won away from home in Premiership Rugby since a victory at Newcastle Falcons in April.
Sale beat Leicester 32-5 on their most recent meeting in March at Salford to end a four-game losing run to the East Midlanders in Premiership Rugby. The Tigers have won on just one of their last four visits to AJ Bell Stadium.
Sale Sharks: 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Sam James, 12 Luke James, 11 Marland Yarde, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Will Cliff, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Mark Wilson, 6 Jono Ross, 5 Jean-Luc du Preez, 4 Bryn Evans, 3 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Coenie Oosthuizen
Replacements: 16 Curtis Langdon, 17 Ross Harrison, 18 WillGriff John, 19 James Phillips, 20 Ben Curry, 21 Gus Warr, 22 Tom Curtis, 23 Denny Solomona
Leicester Tigers: 15 Telusa Veainu, 14 Jonah Holmes, 13 Jaco Taute, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Jordan Olowofela, 10 Noel Reid, 9 Jack Van Poortvliet, 8 Ifereimi Boladau, 7 Tommy Reffell, 6 Hanro Liebenberg, 5 Will Spencer, 4 Tomás Lavanini, 3 Dan Cole (captain), 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Greg Bateman
Replacements: 16 Jake Kerr, 17 Nephi Leatigaga, 18 Joe Heyes, 19 Joe Batley, 20 Harry Wells, 21 Sam Lewis, 22 Harry Simmons, 23 Johnny McPhillips
Referee: Ian Tempest
Assistant Referees: Wayne Falla & Jamie Leahy.
TMO: Trevor Fisher.
Wasps v Saracens
(Ricoh Arena, 19.45)
Wasps have recorded only two victories in Premiership Rugby since Round 3: both away from home, at Bristol in Round 7 and at Worcester in Round 9. Wasps’ solitary victory at the Ricoh Arena in Premiership Rugby this season was against Bath on 2 November.
Saracens’ last five fixtures in Premiership Rugby have all been won by the home side on the day. Saracens’ only victory away from home in any tournament since November was 22-15 at Ospreys in Round 5 of the European Champions Cup.
Saracens have won their last six encounters with Wasps in all competitions since the West Midlanders 35-15 victory in Premiership Rugby at the Ricoh Arena in May 2017. Saracens have faced Wasps on five previous occasion at the Ricoh Arena and lost just once.
Wasps: 15 Marcus Watson, 14 Zach Kibirige, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Jimmy Gopperth, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Jacob Umaga, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Brad Shields, 7 Thomas Young, 6 Jack Willis, 5 Thibaud Flament, 4 Charlie Matthews, 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Tommy Taylor, 1 Ben Harris
Replacements: 16 Gabriel Oghre, 17 Tom West, 18 Biyi Alo, 19 Tim Cardall, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Will Porter, 22 Lima Sopoaga, 23 Michael Le Bourgeois
Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Rotimi Segun, 13 Duncan Taylor, 12 Brad Barritt (captain), 11 Alex Lewington, 10 Manu Vunipola, 9 Tom Whiteley, 8 Jackson Wray, 7 Sean Reffell, 6 Nick Isiekwe, 5 Callum Hunter-Hill, 4 Joel Kpoku, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Jack Singleton, 1 Richard Barrington
Replacements: 16 Tom Woolstencroft, 17 Rhys Carre, 18 Josh Ibuanokpe, 19 Andy Christie, 20 Kapeli Pifeleti, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Dom Morris, 23 Ali Crossdale
Referee: Christophe Ridley
Assistant Referees: Mike Hudson & Shane Lewis.
TMO: Nigel Carrick.
*Article continues below…
Saturday, February 22
Bath Rugby v Harlequins
(Recreation Ground, 15.00)
Bath Rugby have won their last two Premiership Rugby fixtures, at home to Leicester and away at Worcester, but have not won three in succession in the competition since November 2016. Bath have lost just once at the Recreation Ground in Premiership Rugby in the last 11 months: 12-25 to Saracens in Round 5 this season.
Harlequins’ only win in the last four rounds of Premiership Rugby was 41-14 at home to Saracens on 26 January. The Londoners have won three of their last four away games in all tournaments.
The two clubs have already met twice this season in the European Champions Cup, with Harlequins taking both encounters. In Premiership Rugby the last six fixtures between the two clubs have been evenly split with three wins apiece. Harlequins have won on their last three visits to Bath in all tournaments.
Bath: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Jackson Willison, 12 Josh Matavesi, 11 Ruaridh McConnochie, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Chris Cook, 8 Zach Mercer, 7 Francois Louw (captain), 6 Tom Ellis, 5 Elliott Stooke, 4 Josh McNally, 3 Christian Judge, 2 Jack Walker, 1 Lewis Boyce
Replacements: 16 Tom Doughty, 17 Lucas Noguera, 18 Sam Nixon, 19 Mike Williams, 20 Josh Bayliss, 21 Will Chudley, 22 Freddie Burns, 23 Max Wright
Harlequins: 15 Aaron Morris, 14 Cadan Murley, 13 Tom Penny, 12 Paul Lasike, 11 Gabriel Ibitoye, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Danny Care, 8 Alex Dombrandt, 7 Chris Robshaw (captain), 6 James Chisholm, 5 Tevita Cavubati, 4 Glen Young, 3 Simon Kerrod, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Santiago Garcia Botta
Replacements: 16 Jack Musk, 17 Mark Lambert, 18 Phil Swainston, 19 Dino Lamb, 20 Will Evans, 21 Semi Kunatani, 22 Niall Saunders, 23 Brett Herron
Referee: Tom Foley
Assistant Referees: Grag Macdonald & Paul Dix.
TMO: David Rose.
London Irish v Gloucester Rugby
(Madejski Stadium, 15.00)
London Irish have won their last two Premiership Rugby encounters, both on the road at Northampton Saints and at Harlequins. The Exiles have not won three in succession in the competition since February 2014. Irish have lost their last four home games in all tournaments whilst their only victory at Madejski Stadium this campaign was 36-11 against Leicester in Round 4.
Gloucester Rugby have slipped to defeat in their last three first team matches, whilst their only victory away from home since April was 18-16 at Sale Sharks on the opening weekend of Premiership Rugby this season.
Gloucester have lost just one of their last eight fixtures with London Irish in Premiership Rugby: 18-23 in Reading in March 2016.
London Irish: 15 Ben Loader, 14 Matt Williams, 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Terrence Hepetema, 11 Ollie Hassell-Collins, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Albert Tuisue, 7 Blair Cowan, 6 Matt Rogerson, 5 Franco van der Merwe (captain), 4 Adam Coleman, 3 Ollie Hoskins, 2 Dave Porecki, 1 Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi
Replacements: 16 Motu Matu’u, 17 Harry Elrington, 18 Sekope Kepu, 19 Steve Mafi, 20 Ben Donnell, 21 Ben Meehan, 22 Bryce Campbell, 23 James Stokes
Gloucester: 15 Matt Banahan, 14 Louis Rees-Zammit, 13 Billy Twelvetrees, 12 Mark Atkinson, 11 Ollie Thorley, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Charlie Chapman, 8 Ruan Ackermann, 7 Lewis Ludlow, 6 Freddie Clarke, 5 Franco Mostert (captain), 4 Ed Slater, 3 Fraser Balmain, 2 Todd Gleave, 1 Josh Hohneck
Replacements: 16 Henry Walker, 17 Val Rapava-Ruskin, 18 Ciaran Knight, 19 Ben Morgan, 20 Aaron Hinkley, 21 Stephen Varney, 22 Lloyd Evans, 23 Tom Seabrook
Referee: Luke Pearce
Assistant Referees: Anthony Woodthorpe & Rob Warburton.
TMO: David Grashoff.
*Article continues below…
Sunday, February 23
Bristol Bears v Worcester Warriors
(Ashton Gate, 13.00)
Bristol Bears are unbeaten in their last four first team matches since their 18-31 reversal at Leicester Rigers in Round 8 of Premiership Rugby. Bristol have lost just once in any competition at Ashton Gate since March: 21-26 to Wasps in Premiership Rugby on 27 December.
Worcester Warriors have slipped to three straight defeats in Premiership Rugby but have not lost four in succession in the same season since 2017-18. Warriors have won only once away from home in Premiership Rugby since March: 19-14 at Harlequins in Round 4.
Worcester’s only defeat in their last seven encounters with Bristol in all tournaments was 20-28 at Ashton Gate in Premiership Rugby on Boxing Day 2016.
Bristol Bears: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Piers O’Conor, 12 Sam Bedlow, 11 Henry Purdy, 10 Callum Sheedy , 9 Harry Randall, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 Jake Heenan, 6 Chris Vui, 5 Joe Joyce, 4 Dave Attwood, 3 Lewis Thiede, 2 Will Capon, 1 Jake Woolmore
Replacements: 16 Shaun Malton, 17 Yann Thomas, 18 John Afoa, 19 Luke Hamilton, 20 Dan Thomas, 21 Andy Uren, 22 Ioan Lloyd, 23 Alapati Leiua
Worcester Warriors: 15 Jamie Shillcock, 14 Perry Humphreys, 13 Ollie Lawrence, 12 Ashley Beck, 11 Nick David, 10 Duncan Weir, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Cornell du Preez, 7 Marco Mama, 6 Ted Hill, 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 Anton Bresler, 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Matt Moulds (captain), 1 Ethan Waller
Replacements: 16 Niall Annett, 17 Kai Owen, 18 Richard Palframan, 19 Andrew Kitchener, 20 Sam Lewis, 21 Michael Heaney, 22 Jono Lance, 23 Scott van Breda
Referee: JP Doyle
Assistant Referees: Simon Harding & Peter Allan.
TMO: Stuart Terheege.
Exeter Chiefs v Northampton Saints
(Sandy Park, 13.00)
Exeter Chiefs have lost just once in the last six rounds of Premiership Rugby: 19-22 at home to Sale Sharks on 25 January. The Chiefs have lost their last two home games in all competitions but have not lost three in succession at Sandy Park since 2014.
Northampton Saints have slipped to back-to-back Premiership Rugby defeats, both at home, to London Irish and Bristol Bears, but have not lost three in a row in the tournament since April 2018. Saints have won twice away from home in Premiership Rugby this season, at Saracens in Round 1 and at Wasps in Round 8.
Exeter’s only defeat in their last six Premiership Rugby fixtures with Northampton was 28-31 at Franklin’s Gardens in December 2018 whilst the Saints most recent victory at Sandy Park was in February 2014.
Exeter Chiefs: 15 Phil Dollman, 14 Tom O’Flaherty, 13 Ian Whitten, 12 Tom Hendrickson, 11 Olly Woodburn, 10 Joe Simmonds (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 Alec Hepburn, 18 Enrique Pieretto, 19 Sam Skinner, 20 Don Armand, 21 Jack Maunder, 22 Gareth Steenson, 23 Max Bodilly
Northampton Saints: 15 Harry Mallinder, 14 Ahsee Tuala, 13 Matt Proctor, 12 Andrew Symons, 11 Tom Collins, 10 James Grayson, 9 Alex Mitchell, 8 Teimana Harrison (captain), 7 JJ Tonks, 6 Tom Wood, 5 Lewis Bean, 4 Alex Coles, 3 Paul Hill, 2 James Fish, 1 Francois van Wyk
Replacements: 16 Mike Haywood, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Owen Franks, 19 Ben Glynn, 20 Lewis Ludlam, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Fraser Dingwall, 23 Taqele Naiyaravoro
Referee: Jack Makepeace
Assistant Referees: Tom Foley & Jonathan Healy.
TMO: Keith Lewis.
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