Preview: Premiership, Round four
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: After just three Premiership Rugby rounds this season is already shaping up to be another tight affair with every team having already tasted victory at least once already.
But leading the way are Northampton Saints who are the only side to have won all three of their matches, and they will look to stay top of the pile when they travel to Bath Rugby on Saturday.
Bath sit bottom of the Premiership Rugby table following defeat to Wasps last time out, but victory over a strong Exeter Chiefs side in Round Two will give them confidence.
It is Wasps who help get Round Four underway as they travel to Sale Sharks on Friday, with just a place separating them in mid-table.
The action swifts to the AJ Bell Stadium for that clash before moving on to Kingsholm the next day to catch Gloucester Rugby’s clash with defending Champions Saracens.
There is one more game on Saturday and that sees Harlequins welcome Worcester Warriors to The Stoop with the sides currently sat ninth and eighth respectively.
Sunday’s action starts with London Irish hosting Leicester Tigers, before the BT Sport cameras show the action from Sandy Park as second-place Bristol Bears visit Exeter Chiefs.
*Article continues below…
We look at all the Round four matches!
Friday, November 8
Sale Sharks v Wasps
(AJ Bell Stadium, 19.45)
Sale Sharks’ last 13 Premiership Rugby matches have resulted in six wins, six defeats and one draw. The Sharks were defeated 16-18 by Gloucester Rugby in their most recent home game in Round One but have not lost successive Premiership Rugby fixtures at AJ Bell Stadium since New Year 2016-17.
Wasps beat Bath Rugby at the Ricoh Arena on Saturday to end their losing start to the new Gallagher Premiership Rugby campaign. Wasps’ only victory away from home in their last five such encounters in Premiership Rugby was 26-19 at Exeter in April.
The two matches between the clubs in Gallagher Premiership Rugby last season were both won by the away side on the day, the Wasps victory in Salford being their first at the venue on their ninth visit to AJ Bell Stadium in all competitions.
Sale Sharks: 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Marland Yarde, 13 Cameron Redpath, 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11 Byron McGuigan, 10 Rob du Preez, 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Daniel du preez, 7 Ben Curry, 6 Jono Ross (captain), 5 Bryn Evans, 4 Josh Beaumont, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Akker van der Merwe, 1 Ross Harrsion
Replacements: 16 Rob Webber, 17 Valery Morozov, 18 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 19 James Phillips, 20 Jean-Luc du Preez, 21 Will Cliff, 22 AJ MacGinty, 23 Luke James
Wasps: 15 Matteo Minozzi, 14 Zach Kibirige, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jimmy Gopperth, 11 Paolo Odogwu, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Dan Robson (captain), 8 Sione Vailanu, 7 Nizaam Carr, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Will Rowlands, 4 Charlie Matthews, 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Tommy Taylor, 1 Simon McIntyre
Replacements: 16 Tom Cruse, 17 Ben Harris, 18 Jeff Toomaga-Allen, 19 Thibaud Flament, 20 Jack Willis, 21 Sam Wolstenholme, 22 Billy Searle, 23 Michael Le Bourgeois
Referee: Tom Foley
Assistant Referees: Jack Makepeace & Andrew Jackson.
TMO: Stuart Terheege.
*Article continues below…
Saturday, November 9
Bath Rugby v Northampton Saints
(Recreation Ground, 15.00)
Bath Rugby’s only victory in the first three rounds of Premiership Rugby was 13-10 at home to Exeter Chiefs on 25 October. Bath have lost only once at home in Premiership Rugby in the last 12 months: 29-31 to Harlequins in Round 15 last season.
Northampton Saints top the Gallagher Premiership Rugby table and are the only side to have won all three fixtures so far – this represents their best start to a Premiership Rugby campaign since they won their opening five encounters in 2012-13. The Saints have won four of their last six away games in the competition.
The last four fixtures between the two clubs in Premiership Rugby have been equally shared with two wins apiece. Saints have lost on their last four visits to the Recreation Ground in all competitions since their 13-11 victory there in December 2015.
Bath: 15 Freddie Burns, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Max Wright, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Aled Brew, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Will Chudley, 8 Zach Mercer, 7 Josh Bayliss, 6 Tom Ellis, 5 Charlie Ewels, 4 Josh McNally, 3 Will Stuart, 2 Tom Dunn, 1 Beno Obano.
Replacements: 16 Jack Walker, 17 Lewis Boyce, 18 Christian Judge, 19 Elliott Stooke, 20 Mike Williams, 21 Chris Cook, 22 Jackson Willison, 23 Gabriel Hamer-Webb.
Northampton Saints: 15 George Furbank, 14 Tom Collins, 13 Fraser Dingwall, 12 Rory Hutchinson, 11 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 10 James Grayson, 9 Henry Taylor, 8 Teimana Harrison (captain), 7 Jamie Gibson, 6 Tom Wood, 5 Alex Moon, 4 David Ribbans, 3 Ehren Painter, 2 Mike Haywood, 1 Ben Franks.
Replacements: 16 James Fish, 17 Toby Trinder, 18 Paul Hill, 19 Api Ratuniyarawa, 20 Alex Coles, 21 James Mitchell, 22 Fraser Strachan, 23 Ahsee Tuala.
Referee: Ian Tempest
Assistant Referees: Hamish Smales & Wayne Falla.
TMO: Trevor Fisher.
Gloucester Rugby v Saracens
Gloucester Rugby’s winning start to the new Premiership Rugby campaign ended at Leicester Tigers on Saturday. The Cherry & Whites have won their last six home games in Premiership Rugby, the last three with maximum points.
Saracens were defeated in the opening round of Premiership Rugby at home to Northampton Saints but have been victorious in Rounds Two and Three. Saracens have won two of their last three away games in the tournament.
Gloucester’s only victory in their last four Premiership Rugby fixtures with Saracens was 3024 at Kingsholm in February. Saracens most recent win at Kingsholm was in October 2015.
Gloucester: 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Tom Marshall, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Mark Atkinson, 11 Ollie Thorley, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Callum Braley, 8 Ben Morgan (captain), 7 Lewis Ludlow, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Gerbrandt Grobler, 4 Freddie Clarke, 3 Fraser Balmain, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Josh Hohneck.
Replacements: 16 Corné Fourie, 17 Val Rapava Ruskin, 18 Jamal Ford-Robinson, 19 Ruan Ackermann, 20 Jake Polledri, 21 Joe Simpson, 22 Billy Twelvetrees, 23 Matt Banahan.
Saracens: 15 Matt Gallagher, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Duncan Taylor, 12 Nick Tompkins, 11 Alex Lewington, 10 Manu Vunipola, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Jackson Wray (captain), 7 Ben Earl, 6 Calum Clark, 5 Nick Isiekwe, 4 Will Skelton, 3 Titi Lamositele, 2 Joe Gray, 1 Ralph Adams-Hale.
Replacements: 16 Jack Singleton, 17 Richard Barrington, 18 Sam Wainwright, 19 Joel Kpoku, 20 Callum Hunter-Hill, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Alex Lozowski, 23 Rotimi Segun.
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Assistant Referees: Adam Leal & Phillip Watters.
TMO: Claire Hodnett.
*Article continues below…
Harlequins v Worcester Warriors
(Twickenham Stoop, 15.00)
Harlequins’ last six matches in Premiership Rugby have all been won by the home side on the day. Harlequins have won their last four matches at Twickenham Stoop in all competitions since Northampton Saints beat them there by a single point in Round 19 of Premiership Rugby last season.
Worcester Warriors began their 2019-20 Premiership Rugby campaign with victory over Leicester Tigers but have slipped to defeats against Northampton Saints and Exeter Chiefs in subsequent rounds. Worcester have won just once on the road in Premiership Rugby since September 2018: 27-25 at Bristol in March.
The last six encounters between the two clubs in Premiership Rugby have all been won by the home side on the day whilst the Warriors only previous victory at The Stoop in Premiership Rugby came in March 2016.
Harlequins: 15 Ross Chisholm, 14 Cadan Murley, 13 James Lang, 12 Francis Saili, 11 Gabriel Ibitoye, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Martin Landajo, 8 Alex Dombrandt, 7 Will Evans, 6 James Chisholm (captain), 5 Tevita Cavubati, 4 Glen Young, 3 Will Collier, 2 Elia Elia, 1 Santiago Garcia Botta.
Replacements: 16 Scott Baldwin, 17 Nick Auterac, 18 Simon Kerrod, 19 Dino Lamb, 20 Tom Lawday, 21 Niall Saunders, 22 Michele Campagnaro, 23 Vereniki Goneva.
Worcester Warriors: 15 Jamie Shillcock, 14 Melani Nanai, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Ashley Beck, 11 Ed Fidow, 10 Jono Lance (captain), 9 Michael Heaney, 8 Cornell du Preez, 7 Sam Lewis, 6 Ted Hill, 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 Anton Bresler, 3 Richard Palframan, 2 Niall Annett, 1 Ethan Waller.
Replacements: 16 Joe Taufete’e, 17 Callum Black, 18 Conor Carey, 19 Michael Fatialofa, 20 GJ van Velze, 21 Jono Kitto, 22 Ollie Lawrence, 23 Perry Humphreys.
Referee: Matthew Carley
Assistant Referees: John Meredith & Gareth Holsgrove.
TMO: David Rose.
Sunday, November 10
London Irish v Leicester Tigers
(Madejski Stadium, 14.30)
London Irish began their return to Gallagher Premiership Rugby with an opening weekend victory at Wasps but were beaten by Sale Sharks and Saracens in Rounds Two and Three. The Exiles have lost all three matches they have played at Madejski Stadium in all competitions this season.
Leicester Tigers’ five game losing run in Gallagher Premiership Rugby ended with their home win over Gloucester Rugby on Saturday, they have not won successive matches in the tournament since Rounds Five and Six last year. The Tigers have won only once on the road in Premiership Rugby in the last 12 months: 27-22 at Newcastle in April.
The Tigers have won their last six fixtures against London Irish in all competitions whilst the Exiles only victory over Leicester since 2009 came on a visit to Welford Road in Premiership Rugby in September 2014. Tigers have won on their last eight visits to Madejski Stadium.
London Irish: 15 Paddy Jackson, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Terrence Hepetema, 11 Ben Loader, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Ben Meehan, 8 Albert Tuisue, 7 TJ Ioane, 6 Blair Cowan, 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 Allan Dell, 18 Lovejoy Chawatama, 19 George Nott, 20 Matt Rogerson, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Matt Williams, 23 Tom Parton.
Leicester Tigers: 15 Jonah Holmes, 14 Adam Thompstone, 13 Andy Forsyth, 12 Tom Hardwick, 11 Jordan Olowofela, 10 Noel Reid, 9 Sam Harrison, 8 Jordan Taufua, 7 Guy Thompson, 6 Sione Kalamafoni, 5 Calum Green, 4 Harry Wells, 3 Joe Heyes, 2 Tom Youngs (captain), 1 Greg Bateman.
Replacements: 16 Charlie Clare, 17 Facundo Gigena, 18 Nephi Leatigaga, 19 Tomás Lavanini, 20 Jordan Coghlan, 21 Ben White, 22 George Worth, 23 Sam Aspland-Robinson.
Referee: JP Doyle
Assistant Referees: Andrew Jackson & Paul Dix.
TMO: Sean Davey.
Exeter Chiefs v Bristol Bears
(Sandy Park, 15.00)
Exeter Chiefs’ last four matches in Premiership Rugby have resulted in two wins and two defeats. The Chiefs’ only loss at Sandy Park in any competition since last December was 19-26 to Wasps in Premiership Rugby in April.
Bristol Bears have lost only one of their last seven Premiership Rugby fixtures: 17-22 to Harlequins in their most recent away game on 26 October. In just one of those games did The Bears secure a try bonus point.
Exeter have won their last nine fixtures against Bristol in all competitions since The Bears beat them 25-16 at Sandy Park in the Championship in December 2009.
Exeter Chiefs: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Tom O’Flaherty, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Sam Hill, 11 Alex Cuthbert, 10 Joe Simmonds, 9 Nic White, 8 Sam Simmonds, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Jacques Vermeulen, 5 Jonny Hill, 4 Jannes Kirsten, 3 Harry Williams, 2 Jack Yeandle (captain), 1 Alec Hepburn.
Replacements: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Billy Keast, 18 Marcus Street, 19 Sean Lonsdale, 20 Don Armand, 21 Jack Maunder, 22 Gareth Steenson, 23 Jack Nowell.
Bristol Bears: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Will Hurrell, 12 Siale Piutau, 11 Piers O’Conor, 10 Callum Sheedy, 9 Harry Randall, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 Jake Heenan, 6 Steven Luatua (captain), 5 Chris Vui, 4 Dave Attwood, 3 John Afoa, 2 Harry Thacker, 1 Jake Woolmore.
Replacements: 16 Will Capon, 17 Yann Thomas, 18 Lewis Thiede, 19 Ed Holmes, 20 Dan Thomas, 21 Andy Uren, 22 Ioan Lloyd, 23 Toby Fricker.
Referee: Karl Dickson
Assistant Referees: Simon Harding & Jonathan Healy.
TMO: Keith Lewis.