Fri 15 Feb 2013 | 03:29

Preview: Premiership, Round 15

Preview: Premiership, Round 15
Fri 15 Feb 2013 | 03:29
Preview: Premiership, Round 15

With another exciting week of Premiership fixtures on the cards we focus on the clash between Harlequins and the Leicester Tigers.

Louis Deacon admits Leicester Tigers' season could be decided in their next two games and is urging his side to get off to a fast start against Harlequins this Saturday.

The Tigers regained top spot in the Premiership for the first time since the final day of the 2010-11 season thanks to a 28-12 victory over London Welsh last time out.

This was a fifth-straight league win on the trot for Deacon and co but this run is set to be put to the test in their next two fixtures.

First up is a trip to the Stoop to take on reigning champions Quins before the Tigers return to Welford Road to host 2011 title winners Saracens.

However Leicester have won on their last eight trips to the Stoop and Deacon is after more of the same as this Premiership season nears its climax.

"The next two games for us could be crucial in the outcome of the season so it is important we get off to a good start," Deacon said.

"We have Harlequins before playing Saracens and these are two of the tougher fixtures you could ask for.

"We are back on top now and we want to keep it that way and while we will be tested with these very tough fixtures we are committed to doing just that.

"It all starts with Quins and if we can get a result there then that will give us a boost to take on Saracens and go on for the rest of the season."

It took until 2011 for Harlequins to record a second Premiership win over the Tigers since the tournament began in 1997.

However since then Quins have won three of the last four meetings and prop Mark Lambert insists he can't wait to sink his teeth into the Leicester Tigers pack once again.

"When I was younger you look at these games with a bit more trepidation but as you get older you relish the challenge of playing against them," Lambert said.

"You aim to go out and do as best you can against whoever it may be whether it's [Martin] Castrogiovanni, [Logovi'i] Mulipola or [Marcos] Ayerza.

"I am looking forward to the challenge of coming up against the Leicester pack. They have great front-row options.

"We are looking forward to it and it will be a big test for us. You always want to beat Leicester."

We look at all the Round 15 action!

Saturday, February 16:

Bath v London Irish
(Recreation Ground – Kick-off: 14.15 GMT)

They might be at the wrong end of the Premiership, but Bath Rugby back-rower Carl Fearns knows better than to underestimate London Irish as they head to the Recreation Ground on Saturday.

While on the surface the match sees eighth in the table take on 11th, in fact the tie features two of the country's form sides going head to head.

Fearns' Bath side come into the game on the back of a five-game winning streak in all competitions running in a hatful of tries.

But London Irish are also brimming full of confidence after putting a dent in the title ambitions of both Gloucester Rugby and Saracens in their last two league outings.

And Fearns is more than aware of the threat the Exiles pose as they battle to pull away from the relegation zone, after Irish beat Bath 29-22 at the Madejski Stadium back in September.

The teams:

Bath: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 Horacio Agulla, 13 Matt Banahan, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Tom Biggs, 10 Stephen Donald, 9 Peter Stringer, 8 Ben Skirving, 7 Carl Fearns, 6 Francois Louw (captain), 5 Dave Attwood, 4 Dominic Day, 3 David Wilson, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Paul James.
Replacements: 16 Ross Batty, 17 Nathan Catt, 18 Anthony Perenise, 19 Will Spencer, 20 Mat Gilbert, 21 Chris Cook, 22 Tom Heathcote, 23 Semesa Rokoduguni.

London Irish: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Topsy Ojo, 13 Guy Armitage, 12 Shane Geraghty, 11 Marland Yarde, 10 Ian Humphreys, 9 Pat Phibbs, 8 Chris Hala'ufia, 7 Jebb Sinclair, 6 Matt Garvey, 5 Bryn Evans (captain), 4 George Skivington, 3 Halani Aulika, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Max Lahiff.
Replacements: 16 Mike Mayhew, 17 Jerry Yanuyanutawa, 18 Leo Halavatau, 19 Jamie Gibson, 20 Ofisa Treviranus, 21 Jon Fisher, 22 Steven Shingler, 23 Jack Moates.

Referee: David Rose
Assistant referees: Andrew Pearce Andrew Watson

Worcester Warriors v Northampton Saints
(Sixways – Kick-off: 15.00 GMT)

Northampton Saints' Phil Dowson knows his side face an acid test of their top four credentials at Sixways this weekend, but the flanker insists his side are determined to prove their worth.

Saints have only won one of their last four Premiership contests and travel to take on a Worcester Warriors side that have won four of their last five at home.

But with the Warriors in a poor run of form that has seen them lose their last three fixtures in all competitions there has not been a better time this season to head to Sixways.

And Dowson, whose side lost ground on the top four with their home defeat to Gloucester last time out, admits it is time for he and his teammates to front up and deliver a result.

The teams:

Worcester: 15 Errie Claassens, 14 Josh Drauniniu, 13 Alex Grove, 12 Jon Clarke, 11 David Lemi, 10 Andy Goode, 9 Jonny Arr, 8 Matt Kvesic. 7 Sam Betty, 6 Neil Best, 5 Dean Schofield, 4 James Percival (captain), 3 Euan Murray, 2 Aleki Lutui, 1 Matt Mullan.
Replacements: 16 Ed Shervington, 17 Ceri Jones, 18 John Andress, 19 Craig Gillies, 20 Jake Abbott, 21 Paul Hodgson, 22 Danny Gray, 23 Josh Matavesi.

Northampton: 15 Ben Foden, 14 James Wilson, 13 George Pisi, 12 Tom May, 11 Jamie Elliott, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 GJ van Velze, 7 Phil Dowson, 6 Samu Manoa, 5 Mark Sorenson, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Tom Mercey, 2 Dylan Hartley (captain), 1 Soane Tonga'uiha.
Replacements: 16 Mike Haywood, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Paul Doran Jones, 19 Rhys Oakley, 20 Ben Nutley, 21 Martin Roberts, 22 Ryan Lamb, 23 Dom Waldouck.

Referee: Greg Garner
Assistant referees: Kevin Stewart, Paul Burton
TMO: David Hudson

Saracens v Exeter Chiefs
(Allianz Park – Kick-off: 15.00 GMT)

Exeter Chiefs hooker Jack Yeandle insists the Allianz Park's Premiership christening will be no distraction as his side go in search of a first-ever league double over Saracens.

The Chiefs were victorious against Sarries at Sandy Park back in September but have struggled on their travels this season, with only one away victory in the league all season.

Saracens' eight-game winning run came to an end last weekend against London Irish but at Allianz Park for the first-ever artificial pitch in the Premiership's history they will be itching to get back to winning ways in front of their own fans.

But Yeandle is confident that he and his Chiefs teammates are focused purely on the job in hand as they bid to end their away-day hoodoo.

The teams:

Saracens: 15 Chris Wyles, 14 James Short, 13 Joel Tomkins, 12 Adam Powell, 11 David Strettle, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Neil de Kock, 8 Ernst Joubert, 7 Will Fraser, 6 Jackson Wray, 5 Mouritz Botha, 4 Steve Borthwick (captain), 3 Matt Stevens, 2 John Smit, 1 Mako Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Nick Auterac, 18 Petrus du Plessis, 19 Alistair Hagreaves, 20 Justin Melck, 21 Richard Wigglesworth, 22 Nils Mordt, 23 Joe Maddock.

Exeter: 15 Luke Arscott, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Ian Whitten, 12 Jason Shoemark, 11 Matt Jess, 10 Gareth Steenson, 9 Will Chudley, 8 Kai Horstmann, 7 James Scaysbrook, 6 Richard Baxter (captain), 5 Damian Welch, 4 Dean Mumm, 3 Hoani Tui, 2 Neil Clark, 1 Ben Moon.
Replacements: 16 Jack Yeandle, 17 Carl Rimmer, 18 Alex Brown, 19 Tom Hayes, 20 Aly Muldowney, 21 Haydn Thomas, 22 Ignacio Mieres, 23 Phil Dollman.

Referee: Martin Fox
Assistant referees: Robin Goodliffe, Stuart Terheege
TMO: Geoff Warren

Harlequins v Leicester Tigers
(Twickenham Stoop – Kick-off: 17.15 GMT)

Louis Deacon admits Leicester Tigers' season could be decided in their next two games and is urging his side to get off to a fast start against Harlequins this Saturday.

The Tigers regained top spot in the Premiership for the first time since the final day of the 2010-11 season thanks to a 28-12 victory over London Welsh last time out.

This was a fifth-straight league win on the trot for Deacon and co but this run is set to be put to the test in their next two fixtures.

The teams:

Harlequins: 15 Ross Chisholm, 14 Tom Williams, 13 Matt Hopper, 12 Jordan Turner-Hall, 11 Ugo Monye, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Danny Care, 8 Tom Guest. 7 Luke Wallace, 6 Maurie Fa'asavalu, 5 George Robson, 4 Nick Easter (captain), 3 James Johnston, 2 Joe Gray, 1 Mark Lambert.
Replacements: 16 Rob Buchanan, 17 Darryl Marfo, 18 Will Collier, 19 Charlie Matthews, 20 Joe Trayfoot, 21 Jordan Burns, 22 Ben Botica, 23 George Lowe.

Leicester: 15 Mathew Tait, 14 Scott Hamilton, 13 Manusamoa Tuilagi, 12 Anthony Allen, 11 Adam Thompstone, 10 Toby Flood, 9 Sam Harrison, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Brett Deacon, 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 Louis Deacon (captain), 3 Logovi'i Mulipola, 2 Rob Hawkins, 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Replacements: 16 George Chuter, 17 Boris Stankovich, 18 Fraser Balmain, 19 Ed Slater, 20 Jordan Crane, 21 Micky Young, 22 George Ford, 23 Matt Smith.

Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant referees: Peter Huckle Ashley Rowden
TMO: David Grashoff

Sunday, February 17

London Wasps v Gloucester
(Adams Park – Kick-off: 13.00 GMT)

Gloucester full-back Rob Cook insists London Wasps are not just a two-man team, despite identifying wingers Tom Varndell and Christian Wade as the men to stop in this Sunday's key Premiership match.

Varndell and Wade – overlooked by England for the Six Nations – have been in inspired form for the London outfit this season, with both men crossing the whitewash in Wasps' 17-16 win at the home of defending champions Harlequins last time out.

This weekend's game at Adams Park is a crucial encounter with Gloucester sitting two points behind their fourth-placed hosts in the Premiership table.

And while 28-year-old Cook is fully aware of the threat posed by Wasps' dynamic duo, he believes stopping the supply will be key to Gloucester coming out on top on Sunday afternoon.

The teams:

Wasps: 15 Hugo Southwell (captain), 14 Christian Wade, 13 Andrea Masi, 12 Chris Bell, 11 Tom Varndell, 10 Stephen Jones, 9 Joe Simpson, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Sam Jones, 6 Ashley Johnson, 5 Marco Wentzel, 4 James Cannon, 3 Phil Swainston, 2 T Rhys Thomas, 1 Zak Taulafo.
Replacements: 16 Tom Lindsay, 17 Tim Payne, 18 Will Taylor, 19 Alex Rae, 20 Matt Everard, 21 Charlie Davies, 22 Nick Robinson, 23 Elliot Daly.

Gloucester: 15 Rob Cook, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Mike Tindall (captain), 12 Tim Molenaar, 11 Jonny May, 10 Ryan Mills, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Sione Kalamafoni, 7 Akapusi Qera, 6 Tom Savage, 5 Will James, 4 Lua Lokotui, 3 Rupert Harden, 2 Darren Dawidiuk, 1 Nick Wood.
Replacements: 16 Koree Britton, 17 Dan Murphy, 18 Yann Thomas, 19 Jim Hamilton, 20 Matt Cox, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 Shane Monahan, 23 Martyn Thomas.

Referee: Andrew Small
Assistant referees: Gareth Copsey, Ashley Rowden
TMO: Trevor Fisher

London Welsh v Sale Sharks
(Kassam Stadium – Kick-off: 15.00 GMT)

London Welsh captain Jonathan Mills insists he will not be pushing the panic button even if bottom club Sale Sharks come away from the Kassam Stadium with victory this weekend.

After a decent start to life in the Premiership with two wins in their opening four matches – including victory at Sale – Welsh have found life at English rugby's top table tough, registering just two more wins in their next ten outings.

That poor run has left Mills and co. in tenth place just six points clear of Sale, who have been in good form of late reaching the LV= Cup semi final following back-to-back wins before returning to the Premiership to claim a priceless 21-16 win over Exeter Chiefs.

And while Mills knows Sunday's game could be crucial in the battle to avoid the drop, he is adamant London Welsh's fate is in their own hands as we enter the business end of the season.

The teams:

London Welsh: 15 Tom Arscott, 14 Phil MacKenzie , 13 Gonzalo Tiesi , 12 Sonny Parker , 11 Nick Scott, 10 Gavin Henson , 9 Alex Davies, 8 Ed Jackson 7 Julio Cabello , 6 Adam Balding, 5 Matt Corker, 4 Jonathan Mills (captain), 3 Paulica Ion , 2 Neil Briggs, 1 Franck Montanella.
Replacements: 16 Greg Bateman, 17 Tom Bristow, 18 James Tideswell, 19 Kirill Kulemin, 20 Michael Hills, 21 Tyson Keats, 22 Gordon Ross, 23 Seb Jewell.

Sale Sharks: 15 Rob Miller, 14 Charlie Amesbury, 13 Jonny Leota, 12 Sammy Tuitupou, 11 Mark Cueto, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Will Cliff, 8 James Gaskell 7 David Seymour, 6 Dan Braid, 5 Tom Holmes, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Henry Thomas, 2 Marc Jones, 1 Alasdair Dickinson.
Replacements: 16 Tommy Taylor, 17 Ross Harrison, 18 Eifion Lewis Roberts, 19 Andy Powell, 20 Richie Vernon, 21 Cillian Willis, 22 Nick Macleod, 23 Will Addison

Referee: JP Doyle
Assistant referees: Nigel Carrick, Paul Dix

PV: 2
Preview: Premiership, Round 15 | Rugby365