Preview: Premiership, Round Two
Leicester Tigers may have started the new Premiership season with a bonus-point victory but flank Julian Salvi insists the reigning champions are gunning for an even more ruthless performance next time out.
Under the watchful eye of backs coach Paul Burke the Tigers came through a tough task in facing Dean Ryan's new-look Worcester Warriors with a 32-15 bonus-point win at Welford Road last Sunday.
After a dominant first-half was followed by a try early in the second, Salvi and co were sitting comfortably with a 22-point advantage but saw the Warriors score two tries to claw their way back into the game.
And 27-year-old Salvi believes his Leicester teammates will be sure not to relinquish any pressure on their opponents from here on out even if they are boasting a healthy lead, knowing that teams in the Premiership will punish you.
"We are happy to get the five points but there is plenty to work on and the key is when we get into a good lead we don't let our foot off the pedal," said Salvi.
"As part of our review process we had a chat and we saw that after scoring the third try in the second half there was a situation where we let them back into the game.
"Give credit to Worcester though as they held their own and they put us on the back foot but when we needed to we put them back under pressure at the end.
"We don't want to be leaking soft points and we did that and let ourselves down and didn't play to the standards we set ourselves but at the end of the day it was five points.
"Given the situation with a new coach and new environment and culture they are developing it is a good win and our first-half performance built the foundation for winning in the end.
"We want to lock it up in the second half and run away with games instead of letting teams back in."
The Tigers next face a difficult trip to the West Country to face old foes Bath – the last team to beat them in the Premiership following a 27-26 win at The Rec in Round 21 of last season.
The game will make the 100-year anniversary of the first meeting between the two sides – back on September 13, 1913 – and Salvi insists he will be searching for a performance that builds on the platform Leicester created in pre-season and one that delivers victory against his old side.
"We have to continue building the foundation we set in pre-season and we got off to a good start with a bonus-point win and to get four or five points this weekend would be massive," he added.
"It was a tough game down at Bath that day and they put us under a lot of pressure and it really was a big kick up the backside ahead of the semi-finals and helped us push on and win the Premiership in the end.
"We don't like to lose at Leicester and it is all about getting the victory."
On the other end of the scale there is Newcastle Falcons, who are looking to overcome their 0-21 opening round defeat at the hands of Bath.
Dom Barrow insists he can take some comfort from his Premiership debut.
The former Leeds Carnegie forward made the move to the Falcons in the off-season after helping the England Under-20 team to Junior World Championship success in June.
And despite seeing an Anthony Perenise try, a penalty try and 11 points from the boot of George Ford condemn the hosts to defeat last Friday, 20-year-old Barrow more than stood up to the challenge at a rain-sodden Kingston Park.
And with a trip to Sale Sharks next up this weekend the Yorkshireman has vowed to put things right and prove Newcastle can mix it with the best.
"It's been a definite step up for myself, but I'm really relishing my opportunity, it's a challenge and I'm getting stuck into it," said Barrow.
"It was a funny old night against Bath because it was a dream come true to be playing in the Premiership after a couple of years of waiting, but we didn't achieve what we set out to do as a team.
"It was a tough game in tough conditions, we're obviously disappointed we didn't win the opening game but it's just one game at the end of the day.
"The ball was wet and the conditions were incredible greasy, things tightened up a bit but it was the same for both teams.
"We have a big opportunity to put that right against Sale, they will be a tough side and we are under no illusions of that."
The Sharks will be going for the kill again at the Salford City Stadium after their 22-16 win away at Gloucester on the opening weekend.
And Barrow has pinpointed prop Henry Thomas as the driving force behind their threat.
"They will be buoyed by their win at Gloucester, we know they are going to be encouraged by the win but it's 80 minutes of rugby and anything can happen, it's about who plays well on the night," added Barrow.
"They have some very exciting players in the backs, and Henry Thomas in particular is a threat, so we are well aware of what they can do.
"I've never played at the Salford City Stadium, so it will be a new experience for me and it will be their first home game of the season so the atmosphere will be good."
We look at all the Round Two action!
Friday, September 13
Harlequins v Northampton Saints
(Twickenham Stoop – Kick-off: 19.45)
Harlequins narrowly overcame London Wasps at Twickenham last Saturday and are seeking to win their opening two games of a Premiership campaign for a third successive season.
‘Quins have slipped to two defeats in their last five Premiership encounters at the Twickenham Stoop.
Northampton Saints repelled Exeter Chiefs with a bonus point victory at Franklin's Gardens on Saturday.
The Saints have won four of their last five away games in the competition.
Northampton's only victory over Harlequins in their last seven encounters in all competitions was 24-3 at Franklin's Gardens in January 2012. The Saints have not been victorious at the Stoop since 11th September 2010
Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Tom Williams, 13 George Lowe, 12 Tom Casson, 11 Ugo Monye, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Danny Care, 8 Nick Easter, 7 Chris Robshaw (captain), 6 Maurie Fa'asavalu, 5 George Robson, 4 George Merrick, 3 Paul Doran Jones, 2 Joe Gray, 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Rob Buchanan, 17 Mark Lambert, 18 Will Collier, 19 Tom Guest, 20 Luke Wallace, 21 Karl Dickson, 22 Ben Botica, 23 Sam Smith.
Northampton Saints 15 Ben Foden, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 James Wilson, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 George North, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Kahn Fotuali'i, 8 Samu Manoa, 7 Calum Clark, 6 Tom Wood, 5 Christian Day, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Tom Mercey, 2 Dylan Hartley (captain), 1 Alex Corbisiero.
Replacements: 16 Mike Haywood, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Gareth Denman, 19 Sam Dickinson, 20 Phil Dowson, 21 Lee Dickson, 22 George Pisi, 23 Jamie Elliott.
Referee: Andrew Small
Assistant Referees: Kevin Stewart and Nigel Carrick
TMO: David Grashoff
Sale Sharks v Newcastle Falcons
(Salford City Stadium – Kick-off: 20.00)
Sale Sharks travelled to Gloucester in Round One of the Premiership and beat their hosts 22-16, the Sharks have not won their opening two games in a season since 2008/09.
Sale's solo defeat in their last six Premiership encounters was 7-47 at Northampton on 20th April.
Newcastle Falcons were defeated 0-21 in their season opener against Bath at Kingston Park last Friday – the first time they have been nilled at home in a league encounter since 1989.
The Falcons have lost only one of their last 19 away games in all competitions: 19-24 to Leeds at Headingley in last season's RFU Championship semifinal first leg.
This game is Newcastle's fist visit to the Salford City Stadium; they have not won on Sale soil since April 2010.
Sale Sharks: 15 Tom Arscott, 14 Phil Mackenzie, 13 Mark Cueto, 12 Andy Forsyth, 11 Tom Brady, 10 Nick Macleod, 9 Dwayne Peel, 8 James Gaskell, 7 David Seymour, 6 Dan Braid (captain), 5 Michael Paterson, 4 Johnathan Mills, 3 Henry Thomas, 2 Marc Jones, 1 Eifion Lewis Roberts.
Replacements: 16 Tommy Taylor, 17 Ross Harrison, 18 Vadim Cobilas, 19 Kirill Kulemin, 20 Josh Beaumont, 21 Will Cliff, 22 Joe Ford, 23 Rob Miller.
Newcastle: 15 Alex Tait, 14 Noah Cato, 13 Danny Barnes, 12 Adam Powell, 11 Tom Catterick, 10 Phil Godman, 9 Mike Blair, 8 Ally Hogg, 7 Will Welch (captain), 6 Dom Barrow, 5 Scott MacLeod, 4 Fraser McKenzie, 3 Oliver Tomaszczyk, 2 Matt Thompson, 1 Franck Montanella.
Replacements: 16 Rob Vickers, 17 Kieran Brookes, 18 Scott Wilson, 19 Carlo del Fava, 20 Mark Wilson, 21 Warren Fury, 22 Rory Clegg, 23 James Fitzpatrick.
Referee: Luke Pearce
Assistant Referees: Andy Watson and Stuart Terheege
TMO: Sean Davey
Saturday, September 14
Exeter Chiefs v London Wasps
(Sandy Park – Kick-off: 15.00)
Exeter Chiefs tripped up at Northampton on Saturday and suffered their largest Premiership reversal since a trip to the same venue in October 2011.
The Chiefs have never begun a Premiership campaign with a pair of losses.
London Wasps were defeated by the narrowest of margins at Twickenham on Saturday to record a ninth successive defeat in all competitions.
Wasps have not won away from home since a trip to the Twickenham Stoop to face Harlequins last February.
Exeter have won their last six matches against Wasps in all competitions, whilst the Londoner's only previous Premiership victory over the Devonians was 24-12 at Adams Park in December 2010.
Exeter Chiefs: 15 Phil Dollman, 14 Ian Whitten, 13 Sam Hill, 12 Jason Shoemark, 11 Tom James, 10 Gareth Steenson, 9 Haydn Thomas, 8 Dave Ewers, 7 James Scaysbrook, 6 Tom Johnson, 5 Damian Welch, 4 Dean Mumm (captain), 3 Hoani Tui, 2 Jack Yeandle, 1 Brett Sturgess.
Replacements: 16 Chris Whitehead, 17 Ben Moon, 18 Craig Mitchell, 19 Tom Hayes, 20 Ben White, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 Henry Slade, 23 Matt Jess.
London Wasps: 15 Andrea Masi, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Chris Bell (captain), 12 Charlie Hayter, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Andy Goode, 9 Joe Simpson, 8 Ed Jackson, 7 Sam Jones (capt), 6 Ashley Johnson, 5 Tom Palmer, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 2 Tom Lindsay, 1 Matt Mullan.
Replacements: 16 Neil Cochrane, 17 Simon McIntyre, 18 Will Taylor, 19 James Cannon, 20 Guy Thompson, 21 Charlie Davies, 22 Tommy Bell, 23 Ben Jacobs.
Referee: Martin Fox
Assistant Referees: Roger Baileff and Peter Huckle
TMO: Geoff Warren
Worcester Warriors v London Irish
(Sixways – Kick-off: 15.00)
Worcester Warriors have now slipped to six successive Premiership defeats, following their 15-32 reversal at Welford Road on Sunday.
Worcester's most recent victory at Sixways was 29-23 against London Wasps on 1st March.
London Irish have won just one of their last five Premiership encounters: 47-28 at home to relegated London Welsh on 20th April.
The Exiles won just once on the road in the Premiership last season: 18-12 at Kingsholm in January.
Worcester's only victory in their over London Irish in their last 13 encounters in the Premiership since 2005 was 35-11 at Sixways in Round Five last season.
Worcester Warriors: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Josh Drauniniu, 13 Ravai Fatiaki, 12 Josh Matavesi, 11 David Lemi, 10 Ignacio Mieres, 9 Paul Hodgson, 8 Semisi Taulava, 7 Sam Betty, 6 Jonathan Thomas (captain), 5 Chris Jones, 4 Mike Williams, 3 Euan Murray, 2 Ed Shervington, 1 Paul Andrew.
Replacements: 16 Nick Seymour, 17 Ofa Fainga'anuku, 18 John Andress, 19 Dean Schofield, 20 Jake Abbott, 21 Jeremy Su'a, 22 Danny Gray, 23 Jon Clarke.
London Irish: 15 Topsy Ojo, 14 Marland Yarde, 13 Guy Armitage, 12 Eamonn Sheridan, 11 Andrew Fenby, 10 Ian Humphreys, 9 Tomás O'Leary (captain), 8 Chris Hala'ufia, 7 Ofisa Treviranus, 6 Jon Fisher, 5 Kieran Low, 4 Nic Rouse, 3 Halani Aulika, 2 David Paice, 1 Matt Parr.
Replacements: 16 Jimmy Stevens, 17 John Yapp, 18 Leo Halavatau, 19 Bryn Evans, 20 Jebb Sinclair, 21 Declan Danaher, 22 Shane Geraghty, 23 Darren Allinson.
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth
Assistant Referees: Roy Maybank and Andrew Pearce
TMO: Rowan Kitt
Bath v Leicester Tigers
(Recreation Ground – Kick-off: 15.15)
Bath began the new Premiership season with a convincing 21-0 victory at Newcastle last Friday, and have lost just once at The Rec in the competition since Round Three last season: 0-22 to Saracens in December.
Leicester Tigers most recent defeat in the Premiership came at Bath, 26-27 on 20th April.
The Tigers have begun a new campaign with back to back wins only once since 2008/09.
Bath and Leicester first met exactly one hundred years ago at Welford Road, with Leicester running out 19-5 victors.
In more recent times Bath have beaten Leicester just twice in their last 11 Premiership encounters.
Bath: 15 Anthony Watson, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Gavin Henson, 11 Matt Banahan, 10 George Ford, 9 Peter Stringer, 8 Leroy Houston, 7 Guy Mercer, 6 Matt Garvey, 5 Dave Attwood, 4 Stuart Hooper (captain), 3 David Wilson, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Paul James.
Replacements: 16 Ross Batty, 17 Nathan Catt, 18 Anthony Perenise, 19 Dominic Day, 20 Alafoti Fa'osiliva, 21 Micky Young, 22 Tom Heathcote, 23 Tom Biggs.
Leicester: 15 Niall Morris, 14 Scott Hamilton, 13 Vereniki Goneva, 12 Anthony Allen (captain), 11 Adam Thompstone, 10 Ryan Lamb, 9 Dave Mélé, 8 Jordan Crane, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Steve Mafi, 5 Sebastian de Chaves, 4 Ed Slater, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tom Youngs, 1 Logovi'i Mulipola.
Replacements: 16 Neil Briggs, 17 Boris Stankovich, 18 Fraser Balmain, 19 Jamie Gibson, 20 Thomas Waldrom, 21 Sam Harrison, 22 Owen Williams, 23 Dan Bowden.
Referee: Greg Garner
Assistant Referees: Paul Burton and Ashley Rowden
TMO: Graham Hughes
Sunday, September 15
Saracens v Gloucester
(Allianz Park – Kick-off: 14.00)
Saracens were victorious 42-20 over London Irish at Twickenham on Saturday and have lost just one of their last nine regular season games in the Premiership: 23-28 at Gloucester in April.
Saracens only defeat so far at Allianz Park came in last season’s semi-final to Northampton.
Gloucester faltered in losing 16-22 to Sale at Kingsholm in Round One but have not begun a Premiership campaign with two losses since season 2000/2001.
Gloucester have lost their last four away games since beating Northampton 27-11 at Franklin’s Gardens on 9th February.
This is Gloucester’s first visit to Allianz Park, whilst they have not won on Saracens’ soil since a trip to Vicarage Road in November 2008.
Saracens: 15 Chris Wyles, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Joel Tomkins, 12 Duncan Taylor, 11 David Strettle; 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Ernst Joubert, 7 Jacques Burger, 6 Billy Vunipola, 5 Alistair Hargreaves, 4 Steve Borthwick (captain), 3 Matt Stevens, 2 Jamie George, 1 Rhys Gill.
Replacements: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 James Johnston, 19 Mouritz Botha, 20 Jackson Wray, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Nils Mordt, 23 Ben Ransom.
Gloucester: 15 Rob Cook, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Henry Trinder, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 James Simpson-Daniel, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Tavis Knoyle, 8 Sione Kalamafoni, 7 Akapusi Qera, 6 Matt Kvesic, 5 Lua Lokotui, 4 Tom Savage (captain), 3 Rupert Harden, 2 Darren Dawidiuk, 1 Nick Wood.
Replacements: 16 Koree Britton, 17 Dan Murphy, 18 Yann Thomas, 19 Elliott Stooke, 20 Ben Morgan, 21 Dan Robson, 22 Mike Tindall, 23 Martyn Thomas.
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant Referees: Paul Dix and Robin Goodliffe
TMO: Trevor Fisher