Preview: Premiership, Round 13
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: With just ten points separating second and ninth in the Premiership Rugby table, the Round 13 fixtures promise to throw up more twists and turns.
The last round saw four teams win on the road while league-leaders Exeter Chiefs slipped to defeat, and there are two games to kick off proceedings this Friday.
First up Worcester Warriors welcome Northampton Saints too Sixways with the hosts looking to end a run of five straight Premiership Rugby defeats while their visitors have also lost their last four.
Also on Friday London Irish travel to second-placed Sale Sharks with the home side looking to go level on points with league-leaders Exeter Chiefs.
The Chiefs, who suffered defeat last time out to Harlequins, will be looking to get back to winning ways on Saturday as they host Bath Rugby, with the day’s action getting underway with Leicester Tigers’ trip to Allianz Park to take on Saracens.
Elsewhere on Saturday Gloucester Rugby will be looking to end a run of four consecutive defeats as they travel to the Ricoh Arena to take on Wasps.
And the Round 13 action concludes on Sunday as Bristol Bears look to go for an unprecedented fifth-straight Premiership Rugby victory as Harlequins visit Ashton Gate.
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Friday, March 6
Worcester Warriors v Northampton Saints
Worcester Warriors’ only victory in the last seven rounds of Premiership Rugby was 20-6 at home to London Irish on 28 December. The Warriors have slipped to three straight defeats in all competitions at Sixways, they have not lost four in succession at home in the same season since 2015-16.
Northampton Saints have lost their last four Premiership Rugby encounters, their worst run since December 2017. The Saints have won two of their last three away games in all competitions. Northampton have lost only one of their last eight encounters with Warriors: 15-30 at Sixways in November 2017.
Worcester Warriors: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Perry Humphreys, 13 Ollie Lawrence, 12 Ryan Mills, 11 Nick David, 10 Jono Lance, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Cornell du Preez, 7 Sam Lewis, 6 Ted Hill, 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 Andrew Kitchener, 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Matt Moulds (captain), 1 Ethan Waller
Replacements: 16 Niall Annett, 17 Kai Owen, 18 Richard Palframan, 19 GJ van Velze, 20 Tom Dodd, 21 Michael Heaney, 22 Jamie Shillcock, 23 Scott van Breda
Northampton Saints: 15 Harry Mallinder, 14 Tom Collins, 13 Rory Hutchinson, 12 Andrew Symons, 11 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 10 James Grayson, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Teimana Harrison (captain), 7 Lewis Ludlam, 6 Tom Wood, 5 Lewis Bean, 4 Alex Coles, 3 Paul Hill, 2 Mikey Haywood, 1 Francois van Wyk
Replacements: 16 Sam Matavesi, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Owen Franks, 19 Ben Glynn, 20 JJ Tonks, 21 Henry Taylor, 22 Fraser Dingwall, 23 Ahsee Tuala
Referee: Andrew Jackson
Assistant Referees: Paul Dix & Jamie Leahy.
TMO: David Rose.
Sale Sharks v London Irish
(AJ Bell Stadium, 20.00)
Sale Sharks’ only defeat in the last five rounds of Premiership Rugby was 22-36 at Saracens on 15 February. The Sharks have won their last four home games in Premiership Rugby since their 16-18 reversal to Gloucester Rugby in Round 1.
London Irish’s three game-winning run in Premiership Rugby ended with their defeat at home to Wasps on Sunday. The Exiles have won their last two away games in the tournament at Northampton Saints and at Harlequins, but have not won three in succession on their travels in Premiership Rugby since November 2008.
The Sharks have won their last five Premiership Rugby encounters with London Irish since the Londoner’s 25-23 victory at Madejski Stadium in April 2015. The Exiles have never won on five previous visits to AJ Bell Stadium.
Sale Sharks: 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Denny Solomona, 13 Sam James, 12 Luke James, 11 Marland Yarde, 10 Robert 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 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Coenie Oosthuizen
Replacements: 16 Curtis Langdon, 17 Ross Harrison, 18 WillGriff John, 19 James Phillips, 20 Lood de Jager, 21 Faf de Klerk, 22 Tom Curtis, 23 Byron McGuigan
London Irish: 15 Tom Parton, 14 Ben Loader, 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Terrence Hepetema, 11 Ollie Hassell Collins, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Ben Meehan, 8 Albert Tuisue, 7 Ben Donnell 6 Seán O’Brien, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Franco van der Merwe (captain), 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Motu Matu’u, 1 Harry Elrington
Replacements: 16 Saia Fainga’a, 17 Will Goodrick-Clarke, 18 Ollie Hoskins, 19 Steve Mafi, 20 Matt Rogerson, 21 Blair Cowan, 22 Nick Phipps, 23 Bryce Campbell
Referee: Anthony Woodthorpe
Assistant Referees: Hamish Smales & Wayne Falla.
TMO: Rowan Kitt.
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Saturday, March 7
Saracens v Leicester Tigers
(Allianz Park, 13.00)
Saracens’ last six matches in Premiership Rugby have resulted in three wins and three defeats. Sarries have lost only once at home in Premiership Rugby since Leicester beat them in February 2018: 25-27 to Northampton on the opening round this season.
Leicester Tigers’ last six matches in Premiership Rugby have ended in three wins, two defeats and a draw. The Tigers have not won away from home in Gallagher Premiership Rugby since a trip to Newcastle in April 2019.
Saracens have lost just once in their last eight fixtures against Leicester in Premiership Rugby: 20-28 at Allianz Park in February 2018.
Saracens: 15 Matt Gallagher, 14 Rotimi Segun, 13 Dom Morris, 12 Brad Barritt (captain), 11 Alex Lewington, 10 Manu Vunipola, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Calum Clark, 7 Sean Reffell, 6 Nick Isiekwe, 5 Joel Kpoku, 4 Will Skelton, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Tom Woolstencroft, 1 Mako Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Jack Singleton, 17 Richard Barrington, 18 Titi Lamositele, 19 Callum Hunter-Hill, 20 Mike Rhodes, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Tom Whiteley, 23 Ali Crossdale.
Leicester Tigers: 15 Telusa Veainu, 14 Jonah Holmes, 13 Joe Thomas, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Rory Hughes, 10 Johnny McPhillips, 9 Ben White, 8 Sione Kalamafoni (captain), 7 Tommy Reffell, 6 Harry Wells, 5 Joe Batley, 4 Will Spencer, 3 Joe Heyes, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Nephi Leatigaga.
Replacements: 16 Jake Kerr, 17 Greg Bateman, 18 Dan Cole, 19 Calum Green, 20 Ifereimi Boladau, 21 Harry Simmons, 22 Tom Hardwick, 23 George Worth.
Referee: JP Doyle
Assistant Referees: Karl Dickson & Roy Maybank.
TMO: Graham Hughes.
Exeter Chiefs v Bath Rugby
(Sandy Park, 14.30)
Exeter Chiefs were defeated 30-34 at Harlequins on Saturday but have not lost back-to-back fixtures in Premiership Rugby since February 2018. The Chiefs have lost two of their last three home games in all tournaments. They have also been defeated twice at Sandy Park in Premiership Rugby this season, by Bristol Bears in Round 4 and Sale Sharks in Round 9.
Bath Rugby’s three game-winning run in Premiership Rugby ended with their home defeat to Bristol on Sunday. Bath have won two of their last three away games in Premiership Rugby, being successful on trips to London Irish in Round 6 and Worcester Warriors in Round 10.
Bath’s victory at home to Exeter in Round 2 ended a five-game losing run to The Chiefs in Premiership Rugby, whilst they have not achieved a season’s double over the Devonians since 2013-14. Bath have not won at Sandy Park since October 2016.
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 Alec Hepburn.
Replacements: 16 Jordon Poole, 17 Ben Moon, 18 Enrique Pieretto, 19 Will Witty, 20 Don Armand, 21 Jack Maunder, 22 Gareth Steenson, 23 Jack Nowell.
Bath: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Max Wright, 12 Jackson Willison, 11 Ruaridh McConnochie, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Will Chudley, 8 Zach Mercer, 7 Francois Louw (captain), 6 Mike Williams, 5 Elliott Stooke, 4 Josh McNally, 3 Christian Judge, 2 Jack Walker, 1 Beno Obano.
Replacements: 16 Tom Dunn, 17 Lewis Boyce, 18 Sam Nixon, 19 Tom Ellis, 20 Josh Bayliss, 21 Ollie Fox, 22 Freddie Burns, 23 Tom De Glanville.
Referee: Luke Pearce
Assistant Referees: Adam Leal & Phil Watters.
TMO: Keith Lewis.
Wasps v Gloucester Rugby
(Ricoh Arena, 14.30)
Wasps’ only defeat in the last four rounds of Premiership Rugby was 9-18 at Leicester Tigers on 15 February. Wasps beat Saracens 60-10 in their most recent fixture at Ricoh Arena but they have not won successive encounters in Premiership Rugby at the venue since April 2018.
Gloucester Rugby have lost their last four Premiership Rugby matches since beating Bath at Kingsholm on 4 January. Gloucester’s only away win in any tournament since last April was 18-16 at Sale in the opening round of Premiership Rugby this season.
Gloucester are unbeaten in their last four fixtures against Wasps in Premiership Rugby since the West Midlander’s 49-24 victory in Coventry in December 2017. Gloucester’s only previous victory at Ricoh Arena came on their most recent visit in October 2018.
Wasps: 15 Lima Sopoaga, 14 Marcus Watson, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Jimmy Gopperth, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Jacob Umaga, 9 Dan Robson (captain), 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Jack Willis, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Thibaud Flament, 4 Charlie Matthews, 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Tom Cruse, 1 Ben Harris.
Replacements: 16 Gabriel Oghre, 17 Tom West, 18 Biyi Alo, 19 Tim Cardall, 20 Ben Morris, 21 Will Porter, 22 Sam Spink, 23 Paolo Odogwu.
Gloucester: 15 Tom Marshall, 14 Louis Rees-Zammit, 13 Billy Twelvetrees, 12 Mark Atkinson, 11 Ollie Thorley, 10 Lloyd Evans, 9 Callum Braley, 8 Ruan Ackermann, 7 Lewis Ludlow, 6 Jake Polledri, 5 Franco Mostert (captain), 4 Alex Craig, 3 Fraser Balmain, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Josh Hohneck.
Replacements: 16 Henry Walker, 17 Alex Seville, 18 Ciaran Knight, 19 Ed Slater, 20 Aaron Hinkley, 21 Charlie Chapman, 22 Danny Cipriani, 23 Tom Seabrook.
Referee: Ian Tempest
Assistant Referees: Christophe Ridley & Gareth Holsgrove.
TMO: Trevor Fisher.
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Sunday, March 8
Bristol Bears v Harlequins
(Ashton Gate, 13.00)
Bristol Bears have won their last four Premiership Rugby matches and another victory would set a new Bears record in the competition. Bristol have lost just once at Ashton Gate in any tournament since the end of March last year: 21-26 to Wasps in Round 7 of Premiership Rugby.
Harlequins have won just twice in the last six rounds of Premiership Rugby, both at home, to Saracens in Round 9 and Exeter Chiefs last weekend. The Londoner’s only away win in Premiership Rugby in the last 12 months was 28-22 at Wasps on 21 December.
Harlequins have lost just once in their last ten Premiership Rugby encounters with Bristol: 1320 at Ashton Gate in September 2018.
Bristol Bears: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Alapati Leiua, 12 Sam Bedlow, 11 Henry Purdy, 10 Callum Sheedy, 9 Harry Randall, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 Dan Thomas, 6 Steven Luatua (captain), 5 Joe Joyce, 4 Chris Vui, 3 John Afoa, 2 Will Capon, 1 Yann Thomas.
Replacements: 16 Bryan Byrne, 17 Jake Woolmore, 18 Max Lahiff, 19 Ed Holmes, 20 Jake Heenan, 21 Andy Uren, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Ioan Lloyd.
Harlequins: 15 Aaron Morris, 14 Luke Northmore, 13 Tom Penny, 12 Paul Lasike, 11 Gabriel Ibitoye, 10 Brett Herron, 9 Danny Care, 8 Alex Dombrandt, 7 Chris Robshaw (captain), 6 James Chisholm, 5 Matt Symons, 4 Glen Young, 3 Simon Kerrod, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Mark Lambert.
Replacements: 16 Jack Musk, 17 Nick Auterac, 18 Will Collier, 19 Tevita Cavubati, 20 Will Evans, 21 Niall Saunders, 22 Marcus Smith, 23 Francis Saili.
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Assistant Referees: Andrew Jackson & Peter Allan.
TMO: Stuart Terheege.