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Preview: Premiership, Round 20

Thu, 11 Apr 2013 14:04
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It is a good time to play Harlequins
Quote-end

Harlequins' Nick Easter has called on his side to show what champions are made of as they return to Premiership action this weekend against Bath.

Knocked out of the European Cup by an inspired Munster side last Sunday, Harlequins will now set about winning the Race to Twickenham and defending their title at the Premiership final on May 25.

An upturn in form is needed however - Quins have lost five of their last seven matches in the Premiership and European Cup and as a result, they find themselves in third place in the table ahead of Saturday's visit of Bath.

Last time out in league action they were downed by Gloucester while they have lost their last two matches at the Stoop with Exeter Chiefs prevailing before Munster.

And Easter is adamant that has to change - pointing to the breakdown as the key area to improve.

"We've got three massive games in the Premiership to come and we have got to set our stall out," he said.

"We're not going to let our season unravel. We are still champions of England and are in a good position to defend that title.

"People have targeted the breakdown area all year. We've responded well, but it is an area we are going to have to look at.

"Sides know that if they stop us at the breakdown they stop our attacking game, which is very good.

"We were not urgent or clinical enough in getting that first and second guy to the breakdown. You need that if you are going to get quick ball and play our game."

Bath meanwhile, will arrive in London knowing that victory would maintain their push for a top six place and European Cup qualification - and move them to within striking distance of Quins and the top four.

Last time out in the league, Bath were in fine form, running in five tries against London Welsh but in Europe, they were comfortably beaten by Stade Francais.

And ahead of their clash with the champions, second row Dominic Day is calling for a response.

"It is possibly a good time to play Harlequins on their recent form but they will want to get back on track as much as we want to," he said.

"The teams they have lost to are teams we have beaten and we have already beaten them in the Aviva Premiership this season so there are lots of positives to take into it.

"We were a bit down after the Stade Francais game but the most important thing is that we correct what we did wrong.

"Quins are a massive team at the breakdown and have openside flanks and back row forwards who will turn you over quickly and keep the ball so it will be the perfect test.

"It would be satisfying to recognise our mistakes and put them right against a quality team. They have a big offload game similar to Stade Francais and we will need to stop that."

We preview all the Round 20 action!

Friday, April 12

Sale Sharks v Gloucester
(Salford City Stadium - Kick-off: 19.45; 19.45 GMT)

Sale Sharks Director of Rugby Steve Diamond has named his side to take on Gloucester at the Salford City Stadium.

Sharks make only one change from the 23 that played so well at London Irish and earned three points in a thrilling 33 all draw. Will Addison comes in on the right wing in place of Charlie Amesbury.

Teams:

Sale Sharks: 15 Cameron Shepherd, 14 Will Addison, 13 Johnny Leota, 12 Sam Tuitupou, 11 Mark Cueto, 10 Nick Macleod, 9 Dwayne Peel, 8 Alasdair Dickinson, 7 Marc Jones, 6 Henry Thomas, 5 Kearnan Myall, 4 Andrei Ostrikov, 3 Dan Braid, 2 David Seymour (captain), 1 James Gaskell.
Replacements: 16 Tommy Taylor, 17 Ross Harrison, 18 Tony Buckley, 19 Tom Holmes, 20 Richie Vernon, 21 Nathan Fowles, 22 Danny Cipriani, 23 Tom Brady.

Gloucester: 15 Rob Cook, 14 Jonny May, 13 Mike Tindall (captain), 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 Shane Monahan, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Sione Kalamafoni, 7 Akapusi Qera, 6 Tom Savage, 5 Will James, 4 Lua Lokotui, 3 Dario Chistolini, 2 Huia Edmonds, 1 Nick Wood.
Replacements: 16 Koree Britton, 17 Dan Murphy, 18 Yann Thomas, 19 Ben Morgan, 20 Andy Hazell, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 Henry Trinder, 23 Charlie Sharples.

Referee: David Rose
Assistant referees: Robin Goodliffe & Roy Maybank
TMO: David Grashoff

Saturday, April 13

Harlequins v Bath
(Twickenham Stoop - Kick-off: 14.15; 14.15 GMT)

Harlequins' Nick Easter has called on his side to show what champions are made of as they return to Premiership action this weekend against Bath.

Knocked out of the European Cup by an inspired Munster side last Sunday, Harlequins will now set about winning the Race to Twickenham and defending their title at the Premiership final on May 25.

An upturn in form is needed however - Quins have lost five of their last seven matches in the Premiership and European Cup and as a result, they find themselves in third place in the table ahead of Saturday's visit of Bath.

Last time out in league action they were downed by Gloucester while they have lost their last two matches at the Stoop with Exeter Chiefs prevailing before Munster.

The teams:

Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Tom Williams, 13 George Lowe, 12 Matt Hopper, 11 Sam Smith, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Danny Care, 8 Nick Easter, 7 Chris Robshaw (captain), 6 Tom Guest, 5 George Robson, 4 Olly Kohn, 3 James Johnston, 2 Joe Gray, 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Rob Buchanan, 17 Mark Lambert, 18 Will Collier, 19 Charlie Matthews, 20 Luke Wallace, 21 Karl Dickson, 22 Ben Botica, 23 Ugo Monye.

Bath: 15 Ollie Devoto, 14 Horacio Agulla, 13 Semesa Rokoduguni, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Olly Wodburn, 10 Stephen Donald, 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Simon Taylor, 7 Mat Gilbert, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Dave Attwood, 4 Stuart Hooper (captain), 3 David Wilson, 2 Ross Batty, 1 Paul James.
Replacements: 16 Eusebio Guinazu, 17 Nathan Catt, 18 Anthony Perenise, 19 Will Spencer, 20 Guy Mercer, 21 Peter Stringer, 22 Tom Heathcote, 23 Jack Cuthbert.

Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant Referees: Paul Burton & Ashley Rowden.
TMO: Geoffrey Warren.

Exeter Chiefs v London Irish
(Sandy Park - Kick-off: 15.00; 15.00 GMT)

London Irish may be all but safe from the Premiership trap door but centre Shane Geraghty insists they will still be treating their trip to Exeter Chiefs like a cup final.

The Exiles are 12 points clear of bottom side London Welsh and could confirm their Premiership status with a win at Sandy Park on Saturday.

But Geraghty and co also know if Welsh lose to Northampton Saints on Sunday they can afford to slip up at a venue they last won at in October 2010.

Irish will be encouraged by their recent form though - they have suffered just one loss in their last four encounters - and Geraghty isn't about to put his feet up for the season.

The teams:

Exeter Chiefs: 15 Luke Arscott, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Phil Dollman, 12 Jason Shoemark, 11 Matt Jess, 10 Gareth Steenson, 9 Haydn Thomas, 8 Richard Baxter (captain), 7 James Scaysbrook, 6 Ben White, 5 Damian Welch, 4 Dean Mumm, 3 Hoani Tui, 2 Jack Yeandle, 1 Brett Sturgess.
Replacements: 16 Chris Whitehead, 17 Carl Rimmer, 18 Craig Mitchell, 19 Aly Muldowney, 20 Dave Ewers, 21 Will Chudley, 22 Henry Slade, 23 Ian Whitten.

London Irish: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Topsy Ojo, 13 Guy Armitage, 12 Shane Geraghty, 11, Sailosi Tagicakibau, 10 Ian Humphreys, 9 Darren Allinson, 8 Ofisa Treviranus, 7 Jebb Sinclair, 6 Matt Garvey, 5 Bryn Evans, 4 George Skivington (captain), 3 Leo Halavatau, 2 David Paice, 1 Max Lahiff.
Replacements: 16 Scott Lawson, 17 Alex Corbisiero, 18 Halani Aulika, 19 Kieran Low, 20 Jamie Gibson, 21 Jonathan Joseph, 22 Marland Yarde, 23 Jack Moates.

Sunday, April 14

Saracens v Worcester
(Allianz Park - Kick-off: 15.00; 15.00 GMT)

Saracens have won their last five Premiership Rugby matches since their 16-29 reversal to London Irish at Reading on 9th February.

Saracens are unbeaten in any home game this season, despite the fact that they have been played at seven different venues, they have won all four previous games they have played at Allianz Park.

Worcester Warriors only win in their last eight fixtures in all competitions was 29-23 at home to London Wasps in the Premiership on 1st March.

The Warriors have not been victorious on the road in the Premiership since beating Wasps 6-0 at Adams Park on New Year's Day 2012. Worcester beat Saracens 12-3 at Sixways in round nine and have not achieved a season's double over them since 2006/07.

The teams:

Saracens: 15 Chris Wyles, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Joel Tomkins, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 David Strettle, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Neil De Kock, 8 Jackson Wray, 7 Jacques Burger, 6 Kelly Brown (captain), 5 Mouritz Botha, 4 George Kruis, 3 Matt Stevens, 2 John Smit, 1 Rhys Gill.
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Carlos Nieto, 19 Eoin Sheriff, 20 Justin Melck, 21 Richard Wigglesworth, 22 Alex Goode, 23 Duncan Taylor.

Worcester Warriors: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Josh Drauniniu, 13 Alex Grove, 12 Josh Matavesi, 11 David Lemi, 10 Danny Gray, 9 Jonny Arr, 8 Semisi Taulava, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Neil Best, 5 Chris Jones, 4 James Percival (captain), 3 John Andress, 2 Ed Shervington, 1 Matt Mullan.
Replacements: 16 Aleki Lutui, 17 Ceri Jones, 18 Rob O'Donnell, 19 Dean Schofield, 20 Jake Abbott, 21 Paul Hodgson, 22 Joe Carlisle, 23 Jon Clarke.

Referee: Tim Wigglesworth
Assistant Referees: Andrew Watson & Ian Tempest.

London Welsh v Northampton Saints
(Kassam Stadium - Kick-off: 15.00; 15.00 GMT)

London Welsh head coach Lyn Jones has called on his side to make the most of home comforts against Northampton Saints on Sunday as they seek to beat the drop.

The Exiles have not won in the Premiership since December but have been on the road for the last four games, picking up just one losing bonus point from those matches.

This weekend they welcome Northampton to the Kassam Stadium, knowing that they desperately need a win to close the eight-point gap to Sale Sharks above them in the table.

When the two sides met back in November it was Saints who came out on top in a tight affair, winning 23-16, but Jones is adamant his side will not be lacking any motivation in their final three fixtures of the season.

The teams:

London Welsh: 15 Tom Arscott, 14 Seb Stegmann, 13 Sonny Parker, 12 Seb Jewell, 11 Nick Scott, 10 Gordon Ross, 9 Alex Davies, 8 Daniel Browne, 7 Michael Hills, 6 Julio Cabello Farias, 5 Kirill Kulemin, 4 Jonathan Mills (captain), 3 Paulica Ion, 2 Greg Bateman, 1 Tom Bristow.
Replacements: 16 Dan George, 17 Arthur Joly, 18 James Tideswell, 19 Matt Corker, 20 Adam Balding, 21 Rob Lewis, 22 James Lewis, 23 Tom Voyce.

Northampton Saints: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 George Pisi, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 Jamie Elliott, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 Samu Manoa, 7 Phil Dowson, 6 Tom Wood, 5 Christian Day, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Brian Mujati, 2 Dylan Hartley (captain), 1 Soane Tonga'uiha.
Replacements: 16 Mike Haywood, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Paul Doran Jones, 19 GJ van Velze, 20 Calum Clark, 21 Martin Roberts, 22 Ryan Lamb, 23 Tom May.

Referee: Greg Garner
Assistant Referees: Stuart Terheege & Kevin Stewart

LeicesterTigers  v Wasps
(Welford Road - Kick-off: 15.45; 15.45 GMT)

Leicester Tigers have won their last three Premiership Rugby matches since their 27-32 defeat at home to Saracens in round 16.

That defeat is the only one that the Tigers have suffered at Welford Road in any competition since September.

London Wasps have lost their last five matches in all competitions since overcoming Gloucester 33-29 at Adams Park on 17th February.

Wasps have won just twice away from home in the Premiership since October 2011, they came in successive away games against London Welsh in round 12 and Harlequins in round 14.

The last eight Premiership encounters between the two clubs have all been won by the home side on the day, whilst Wasps have not won at Welford Road since 26th September 2008.

The teams:

Leicester Tigers: 15 Mathew Tait, 14 Niall Morris, 13 Manusamoa Tuilagi, 12 Anthony Allen, 11 Adam Thompstone, 10 Toby Flood (captain), 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Jordan Crane, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Tom Croft, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Ed Slater, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tom Youngs, 1 Logovi'i Mulipola.
Replacements: 16 Rob Hawkins, 17 Fraser Balmain, 18 Martin Castrogiovanni, 19 Graham Kitchener, 20 Thomas Waldrom, 21 Sam Harrison, 22 George Ford, 23 Matt Smith.

London Wasps: 15 Elliot Daly, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Chris Bell (captain), 12 Charlie Hayter, 11 Tom Varndell, 10 Nick Robinson, 9 Charlie Davies, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Jonathan Poff, 6 Ashley Johnson, 5 Tom Palmer, 4 James Cannon, 3 Will Taylor, 2 Tom Lindsay, 1 Zak Taulafo.
Replacements: 16 Nathan Morris, 17 Simon McIntyre, 18 Lorenzo Romano, 19 Alex Rae, 20 Matt Everard, 21 Joe Simpson, 22 Tommy Bell, 23 Jack Wallace.

Referee: JP Doyle
Assistant Referees: Peter Huckle & Gareth Copsey.
TMO: Graham Hughes

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