Preview: Premiership, Round Five
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: After a two-week European break, the Premiership is back with a thriller as Saracens head to the Rec to go head-to-head with Bath on Friday.
The visitors may have won four of their last five in all competitions, but have struggled in recent times on their travels to the Bath fortress.
And the hosts will hope that their home advantage comes to the fore as they look to kickstart their season following a winless opening to their Champions Cup campaign.
The action continues on Saturday with three blockbuster fixtures. Exeter Chiefs host the Wasps, Leicester Tigers go visit Northampton Saints at the Franklin’s Garden, and Springbok-laden Sale Sharks make a trip Sixways to face Worcester Warriors.
On Sunday, Ashton Gate will be the spot where Bristol Bears take on London Irish.
While Gloucester and Harlequinei will lock horns at Twickenham to conclude the round.
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Friday, November 29
Bath v Saracens
(Recreation Ground, 19.45)
All four of Bath Rugby’s matches in Premiership Rugby this season have been won by the home side on the day. Bath’s only defeat in their last ten home games in Premiership Rugby was 29-31 to Harlequins in round 15 last season. Saracens only defeat in their last six Gallagher Premiership Rugby fixtures was 25-27 at home to Northampton on the opening weekend of the new season. Saracens have lost just one of their last four away games in Premiership Rugby, 29-31 at Worcester in round 22 last season. The last six encounters between the two clubs have been won by the home side on the day whilst Saracens most recent victory at the Recreation Ground was in April 2016.
Bath: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Max Wright, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Ruaridh McConnochie, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Will Chudley, 8 Francois Louw (captain), 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Josh Bayliss, 5 Elliott Stooke, 4 Josh McNally, 3 Will Stuart, 2 Tom Dunn, 1 Beno Obano
Replacements: 16 Jack Walker, 17 Lewis Boyce, 18 Christian Judge, 19 Matt Garvey, 20 Rhys Davies, 21 Chris Cook, 22 Freddie Burns, 23 Gabe Hamer-Webb
Saracens: 15 Elliot Daly, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Duncan Taylor, 12 Brad Barritt (captain), 11 Alex Lewington, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Jackson Wray, 6 Maro Itoje, 5 George Kruis, 4 Will Skelton, 3 Titi Lamositele, 2 Jamie George, 1 Mako Vunipola
Replacements: 16 Jack Singleton, 17 Richard Barrington, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Nick Isiekwe, 20 Ben Earl, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Manu Vunipola, 23 Nick Tompkins
Referee: Karl Dickson
Assistant Referees: JP Doyle & Anthony Woodthorpe.
TMO: David Rose.
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Saturday, November 30
Exeter Chiefs v Wasps
(Sandy Park, 15.00)
Exeter Chiefs were defeated 17-20 at home to Bristol in round 4 but have not suffered successive losses in Premiership Rugby since February 2018. The Chiefs only defeat in their last eight matches in all competitions at Sandy Park was to Bristol in round 4. Wasps have won just once in Gallagher Premiership Rugby this season: 30-22 at home to Bath in round 3. Wasps have won just once away from home in Premiership Rugby since February: 26-19 at today’s opponents, Exeter, in April. When the two clubs clashed last season, each side won its respective away game, with Wasps gaining a first ever victory at Sandy Park.
Exeter Chiefs: 15 Phil Dollman, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Ian Whitten, 12 Sam Hill, 11 Tom O’Flaherty, 10 Gareth Steenson, 9 Nic White, 8 Matt Kvesic, 7 Don Armand, 6 Dave Ewers, 5 Jannes Kirsten, 4 Dave Dennis (captain), 3 Harry Williams, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 1 Ben Moon.
Replacements: 16 Elvis Taione, 17 Alec Hepburn, 18 Marcus Street, 19 Sean Lonsdale, 20 Sam Simmonds, 21 Jack Maunder, 22 Joe Simmonds, 23 Tom Hendrickson
Wasps: 15 Matteo Minozzi, 14 Zach Kibirige, 13 Michael Le Bourgeois, 12 Jimmy Gopperth, 11 Marcus Watson, 10 Jacob Umaga, 9 Dan Robson (Captain), 8 Tom Willis, 7 Nizaam Carr, 6 Jack Willis, 5 Will Rowlands, 4 Charlie Matthews, 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Tom Cruse, 1 Zurabi Zhvania
Replacements: 16 Tommy Taylor, 17 Ben Harris, 18 Jack Owlett, 19 Tim Cardall, 20 Ashley Johnson, 21 Will Porter, 22 Lima Sopoaga, 23 Sam Spink
Referee: Ian Tempest
Assistant Referees: Simon McConnell & John Meredith
TMO: Geoff Warren.
Northampton Saints v Leicester Tigers
(Franklin’s Gardens, 15.00)
Northampton Saints host the 244th East Midlands derby with Leicester having the edge with 136 wins to 88, with 19 games drawn. The Saints perfect start to the new Premiership Rugby campaign was spoiled with their 13-22 defeat at Bath in round 4. Northampton have won their last three Premiership Rugby games at Franklin’s Gardens since Gloucester beat them there in April. Leicester Tigers only loss in their last four games in all competitions was 11-36 at London Irish in round 4 of Gallagher Premiership Rugby. The Tigers have won only once away from home in Premiership Rugby in the last twelve months: 27-22 at Newcastle in April. Northampton have won their last three matches against Leicester in all competitions but have not won four in a row against their fiercest rivals since 1973.
Northampton Saints: 15 George Furbank, 14 Tom Collins, 13 Matt Proctor, 12 Rory Hutchinson, 11 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Teimana Harrison, 7 Lewis Ludlam, 6 Tom Wood, 5 Courtney Lawes, 4 Alex Moon, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Mikey Haywood, 1 Alex Waller
Replacements: 16 Michael van Vuuren, 17 Francois van Wyk, 18 Ehren Painter, 19 Api Ratuniyarawa, 20 Jamie Gibson, 21 James Mitchell, 22 Fraser Dingwall, 23 Ahsee Tuala
Leicester Tigers: 15 George Worth, 14 Jonny May, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Jaco Taute, 11 Jonah Holmes, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Sione Kalamafoni, 7 Guy Thompson, 6 Harry Wells, 5 Calum Green, 4 Tomás Lavanini, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tom Youngs (captain), 1 Ellis Genge.
Replacements: 16 Jake Kerr, 17 Facundo Gigena, 18 Nephi Leatigaga, 19 Sam Lewis, 20 Jordan Coghlan, 21 Ben White, 22 Noel Reid, 23 Andy Forsyth
Referee: Matthew Carley
Assistant Referees: Andrew Jackson & Wayne Falla.
TMO: Rowan Kitt.
Worcester Warriors v Sale Sharks
Worcester Warriors record in Premiership Rugby so far this season is won two lost two. The Warriors have been defeated four times in all competitions at Sixways since February, and three of those have been by Exeter Chiefs. Sale Sharks beat Wasps 28-18 at AJ Bell Stadium in round 4 but have not won successive Premiership Rugby matches since January. The Sharks only away win in Premiership Rugby since February was 41-7 at London Irish in round 2. Warriors beat The Sharks 39-17 at Sixways in April to end a five-game winless run against Sale in Premiership Rugby.
Worcester Warriors: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Perry Humphreys, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Ashley Beck, 11 Melani Nanai, 10 Duncan Weir, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Cornell du Preez, 7 Sam Lewis, 6 Ted Hill, 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 Anton Bresler, 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Niall Annett (captain), 1 Ethan Waller
Replacements: 16 Matt Moulds, 17 Callum Black, 18 Richard Palframan, 19 Michael Fatialofa, 20 GJ van Velze, 21 Michael Heaney, 22 Jono Lance, 23 Ryan Mills
Sale Sharks: 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Denny Solomona, 13 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 12 Rob du preez, 11 Chris Ashton, 10 AJ MacGinty, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Jono Ross (Captain), 7 Ben Curry, 6 Tom Curry, 5 Jean-Luc du Preez, 4 Bryn Evans, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Akker van der Merwe, 1 Valery Morozov.
Replacements: 16 Rob Webber, 17 Ross Harrison, 18 Will-Griff John, 19 James Phillips, 20 Matt Postlethwaite, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Sam James, 23 Marland Yarde
Referee: Luke Pearce
Assistant Referees: Adam Leal & Philip Watters
TMO: Graham Hughes.
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Sunday, November 1
Bristol Bears v London Irish
(Ashton Gate, 15.00)
Bristol Bears only defeat in their last six matches in all competitions was 17-22 at Harlequins in round 2 of Gallagher Premiership Rugby. Bristol are unbeaten in their last seven matches in all tournaments at Ashton Gate since Worcester beat them there in Premiership Rugby in March. London Irish beat Leicester 36-11 at Madejski Stadium in round 4 but have not won successive matches in Gallagher Premiership Rugby since April 2015. The Exiles have won two of their last four away games in Premiership Rugby, at Harlequins in round 19 last season and at Wasps in the opening round of this campaign.
The two clubs have not met in Premiership Rugby for over a decade with London Irish winning the three most recent encounters since Bristol’s 14-11 victory at the Memorial Stadium in September 2007.
Bristol Bears: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Piers O’Conor, 12 Siale Piutau, 11 Toby Fricker, 10 Callum Sheedy, 9 Andy Uren, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 Dan Thomas, 6 Steven Luatua (captain), 5 Chris Vui, 4 Joe Joyce, 3 John Afoa, 2 Harry Thacker, 1 Jake Woolmore.
Replacements: 16 Will Capon, 17 Yann Thomas, 18 Max Lahiff, 19 Ed Holmes, 20 Luke Hamilton, 21 Harry Randall, 22 Ioan Lloyd, 23 Alapati Leiua.
London Irish: 15 Paddy Jackson, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Tom Stephenson, 12 Terrence Hepetema, 11 Curtis Rona, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Ben Meehan, 8 Albert Tuisue, 7 Blair Cowan, 6 Matt Rogerson, 5 Franco van der Merwe (captain), 4 Ruan Botha, 3 Ollie Hoskins, 2 Saia Fainga’a, 1 Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi.
Replacements: 16 Motu Matu’u, 17 Harry Elrington, 18 Lovejoy Chawatama, 19 Adam Coleman, 20 Steve Mafi, 21 TJ Ioane, 22 Nick Phipps, 23 Tom Parton
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant Referees: Christophe Ridley & Paul Dix.
TMO: Stuart Terheege.
Harlequins v Gloucester
(Twickenham Stoop, 15.00)
Harlequins’ only victory in their last five Premiership Rugby matches was 22-17 at home to Bristol in round 2. Quins have lost just one of their last six home games in all competitions: 14-19 to Worcester in round 4 of Premiership Rugby. Gloucester Rugby have lost their last four matches in all competitions since their home win over Wasps in round 2 of Gallagher Premiership Rugby. The Cherry & Whites have won only one of their last eight away games in all competitions: 18-16 at Sale in round 1 of Premiership Rugby. Both fixtures between the two clubs last season were won by the away side on the day, Gloucester’s victory at Twickenham Stoop in March was their first at the venue in Premiership Rugby since September 2006.
Harlequins: 15 Ross Chisholm, 14 Cadan Murley, 13 Michele Campagnaro, 12 James Lang, 11 Gabriel Ibitoye, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Danny Care, 8 Alex Dombrandt, 7 Chris Robshaw (Captain), 6 Tom Lawday, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Matt Symons, 3 Will Collier, 2 Elia Elia, 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Jack Musk, 17 Nick Auterac, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 Tevita Cavubati, 20 Semi Kunatani, 21 Martin Landajo, 22 Francis Saili, 23 Travis Ismaiel
Gloucester: 15 Tom Marshall, 14 Louis Rees-Zammit, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Mark Atkinson, 11 Ollie Thorley, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Joe Simpson, 8 Ben Morgan (captain), 7 Lewis Ludlow, 6 Ruan Ackermann, 5 Franco Mostert; 4 Alex Craig, 3 Jamal Ford-Robinson; 2 Franco Marais, 1 Val Rapava-Ruskin.
Replacements: 16 Corné Fourie, 17 Josh Hohneck, 18 Fraser Balmain, 19 Freddie Clarke, 20 Jake Polledri, 21 Callum Braley, 22 Billy Twelvetrees, 23 Matt Banahan
Referee: Carig Maxwell-Keys
Assistant Referees: Dean Richards & Jonathan Healy.
TMO: Sean Davey & Karl Dickson.