Preview: Premiership, Round six
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Northampton Saints prop Kieran Brookes believes the commitment the side are showing for each other could be the decisive factor in claiming victory from tight Premiership Rugby encounters.
That was no more evident than in a narrow 20-19 victory over Exeter Chiefs last weekend, with the Saints fighting back from a 13-0 deficit at Franklin’s Gardens to take their second win of the campaign.
It was claimed by the boot of Harry Mallinder who kicked the decisive penalty moments from time, but with a trip to Harlequins to come on Saturday, Brookes knows it’s the Saints’ starlets like the versatile 20-year-old who will become crucial as the season develops.
"The squad we have at the moment is a group that works hard for each other off the pitch," he said.
“And being able to take that onto the field, knowing that you’ve got guys who won’t give up, gives you a lift at the same time.
"We see what these younger players do week in, week out, so there were no nerves about what they were being asked to do. It gives a massive lift to the lads, knowing we’ve got the depth.
"Any away game is tough when the crowd is up against you, but that’s when we’ve got to stick together and pull tighter to play our style of rugby. Our travelling fans get behind us, but we’ve got to go down and play our rugby,"
Like Saints, Quins have also had a smattering of impressive performances, defeating Premiership Rugby champions Saracens, although they still sit just one place off bottom spot heading into the weekend.
But Brookes knows that there is more to the men from the Stoop than just league position, despite his side boasting a superior recent record, winning all of their last seven encounters.
"We’ve had a couple of disappointing results over the past couple of weeks, games that would have put us in a completely different position going into Exeter had we won them," continued the 27-year-old.
"That gave us a bit pressure facing the Chiefs, now we can take that going into this weekend, both the quality of rugby that we showed in getting the fightback and also the character to get us back there in the first place.
"We went to Quins last year and played quite well, but they did the same and we needed to show that character in that game.
"Now we can go down there with a bit of form we can definitely come away with a win,"
We take a look at all the Round Six action!
Friday, October 7:
Bath Rugby v Sale Sharks
(Recreation Ground - Kick-off: 19.45: 18.45 GMT)
Bath Rugby have lost just one match under the stewardship of Todd Blackadder which was 14-34 at Leicester in Round four of Premiership Rugby. Bath have not been beaten at the Recreation Ground since Saracens were the visitors on April 1.
Sale Sharks have scored 34 points and four tries in both of their last two matches but have not recorded a try bonus point in three successive Premiership Rugby encounters since November 2002. Sharks have won twice away from home since March, at London Irish and at Newcastle in Rounds 19 and 22 last season.
Bath have beaten Sale in three of the last four fixtures, whilst Sharks have been victorious on two of their last five most recent visits to the Recreation Ground.
Bath: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Matt Banahan, 11 Aled Brew, 10 George Ford (co-captain), 9 Kahn Fotuali’i, 8 Zach Mercer, 7 Tom Ellis, 6 Matt Garvey (co-captain), 5 Dave Attwood, 4 Elliott Stooke, 3 Henry Thomas, 2 Tom Dunn, 1 Nathan Catt
Replacements: 16 Ross Batty, 17 Nick Auterac, 18 Kane Palma-Newport, 19 Charlie Ewels, 20 Guy Mercer, 21 Chris Cook, 22 Adam Hastings, 23 Jeff Williams
Sale Sharks:15 Byron McGuigan, 14 Will Addison, 13 Sam James, 12 Johnny Leota, 11 Paolo Odogwu, 10 AJ MacGinty, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 Josh Beaumont (captain), 7 David Seymour, 6 Cameron Neild, 5 Jonathan Mills, 4 Bryn Evans, 3 Brian Mujati, 2 Neil Briggs, 1 Eifion Lewis-Roberts
Replacements: 16 Ross Harrison, 17 Halani Aulika, 18 Andrei Ostrikov, 19 Magnus Lund, 20 Laurence Pearce, 21 James Mitchell, 22 Dan Mugford, 23 Mike Haley
Referee: Tom Foley
Assistant Referees: Paul Dix, Jonathan Healy
TMO: Stuart Terheege
Saturday, October 8
Exeter Chiefs v Gloucester Rugby
(Sandy Park, Exeter - Kick-off: 15.00; 14.00 GMT)
Exeter Chiefs two victories in Premiership Rugby this season have both been after scoring five tries, at home to Harlequins and at Bristol. The only visiting side to have won at Sandy Park since Gloucester did so in January 2015 has been Saracens, twice.
Gloucester Rugby have won just one of their last six Premiership Rugby encounters it was a 26-13 at Sale in Round three. Gloucester are unbeaten in their last three away games in the competition, their best form on the road since the start of season 2012/13.
Each side won its respective home game when the clubs clashed last season whilst Gloucester’s record at Sandy Park in the tournament is an even won three, lost three.
Exeter Chiefs: 15 Lachie Turner, 14 Olly Woodburn, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Sam Hill, 11 Ian Whitten, 10 Gareth Steenson (captain), 9 Will Chudley, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Dave Dennis, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Mitch Lees, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 1 Ben Moon
Replacements: 16 Jack Yeandle, 17 Carl Rimmer, 18 Harry Williams, 19 Damian Welch, 20 Kai Horstmann, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 Ollie Devoto, 23 Max Bodilly
Gloucester: 15 James Hook, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Matt Scott, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 David Halaifonua, 10 Billy Burns, 9 Greig Laidlaw (captain), 8 Gareth Evans, 7 Jacob Rowan, 6 Ross Moriarty, 5 Mariano Galarza, 4 Tom Savage, 3 Paul Doran-Jones, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Paddy McAllister
Replacements: 16 Motu Matu'u, 17 Yann Thomas, 18 Nicky Thomas, 19 Joe Latta, 20 Matt Kvesic, 21 Willi Heinz, 22 Mark Atkinson, 23 Lewis Ludlow
Referee: Gregory M Garner
Assistant referees: Matthew O'Grady, Simon McConnell
TMO: Geoffrey Warren
Leicester Tigers v Worcester Warriors
(Welford Road,Leicester - Kick-off: 15.00; 14.00 GMT)
Leicester Tigers’ only defeat at Welford Road in their last eight matches in all competitions was 22-34 to Wasps in Round two of Premiership Rugby.
Tigers have already conceded three try bonus points this campaign – as many as they did all last season.
Worcester Warriors ended an eight game winless run with their 11-9 victory at home against Newcastle Falcons on Sunday. Warriors have not won on the road in Premiership Rugby since a visit to Harlequins on March 19.
Leicester have won their last dozen fixtures against Worcester in Premiership Rugby since the Warriors 23-19 victory at Sixways in March 2008.
Worcester have never won at Welford Road in 13 previous visits since 1895.
Leicester Tigers: 15 Telusa Veainu, 14 Adam Thompstone, 13 Peter Betham, 12 Mathew Tait, 11 Tom Brady, 10 Owen Williams, 9 Jono Kitto, 8 Lachlan McCaffrey, 7 Brendon O’Connor, 6 Mike Williams, 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 Dom Barrow, 3 Greg Bateman, 2 Tom Youngs (captain), 1 Ellis Genge
Replacements: 16 Harry Thacker, 17 Marcos Ayerza, 18 Logovi’i Mulipola, 19 Mike Fitzgerald, 20 Will Evans, 21 Sam Harrison, 22 Jack Roberts, 23 Matt Smith
Worcester Warriors: 15 Jamie Shillcock, 14 Perry Humphreys, 13 Wynand Olivier, 12 Jackson Willison, 11 Dean Hammond, 10 Ryan Lamb, 9 Jonny Arr, 8 Phil Dowson (captain), 7 Carl Kirwan, 6 Alafoti Faosiliva, 5 Darren Barry, 4 Donncha O’Callaghan, 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Jaba Bregvadze, 1 Val Rapava Ruskin
Replacements: 16 Matti Williams, 17 Na’ama Leleimalefaga, 18 James Johnston, 19 Christian Scotland-Williamson, 20 Matt Cox, 21 Luke Baldwin, 22 Tom Heathcote, 23 Ben Te’o
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth
Assistant referees: Jack Makepeace, Roger Baileff
TMO: Keith Lewis
Newcastle Falcons v Bristol Rugby
(Kingston Park, Newcastle - Kick-off: 15.00; 14.00 GMT)
Newcastle Falcons have recorded two victories so far this season, beating Sale at Kingston Park and Gloucester at Kingsholm. The Falcons have lost two of their last three home matches, to Sale at the end of last season, and to Leicester in round four of Premiership Rugby.
Bristol Rugby have now lost their last six matches in all competitions and last weekend were held scoreless at home for the first time since Cardiff Blues visited the Memorial Stadium in the European Cup in January 2008. Bristol’s most recent away victory was at Doncaster in the first leg of the
Championship Final in May whilst they have not won on the road in Premiership Rugby since a visit to Newcastle in March 2008.
Bristol won the most recent encounter between the two clubs, 19-14 at Kingston Park in the Championship in April 2013. Bristol have been victorious on four of their last six visits to Newcastle.
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Alex Tait, 13 Dominic Waldouck, 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Mike Delany, 9 Michael Young, 8 Ally Hogg, 7 Will Welch (captain), 6 Mark Wilson, 5 Evan Olmstead, 4 Calum Green, 3 David Wilson, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Rob Vickers
Replacements: 16 Ben Sowrey, 17 Alex Rogers, 18 Jon Welsh, 19 Will Witty, 20 Daniel Temm, 21 Sonatane Takulua, 22 Joel Hodgson, 23 Belisario Agulla
Bristol: 15 Jordan Williams, 14 Ryan Edwards, 13 Jack Tovey, 12 Will Hurrell, 11 David Lemi, 10 Tusi Pisi, 9 Will Cliff, 8 Jordan Crane, 7 Jack Lam (captain), 6 Mitch Eadie, 5 Mark Sorenson, 4 Ben Glynn, 3 Anthony Perenise, 2 Ross McMillan, 1 Kyle Traynor
Replacements: 16 Max Crumpton, 17 Ryan Bevington, 18 Gaston Cortes, 19 James Phillips, 20 Jon Fisher, 21 Rhodri Williams, 22 Adrian Jarvis, 23 Jack Wallace
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant referees: Peter Allan, Steve Lee
TMO: Sean Davey
Harlequins v Northampton Saints
(Twickenham Stoop - Kick-off: 15.00; 14.00 GMT)
Harlequins have won both of their home games so far this season, but have been defeated in all three on their travels. Quins have lost just once in their last five encounters at Twickenham Stoop in all competitions, 24-62 to Exeter in the final game of last season.
Northampton Saints doubled their tally of victories in the 2016/17 Premiership Rugby campaign with their 20-19 win over Exeter at Franklins Gardens on Friday. The Saints have been victorious in two of their last three away games.
Northampton have won the last seven of their encounters with Harlequins in all tournaments since the Londoners 22-19 win at the Stoop in Premiership Rugby in May 2013.
Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Marland Yarde, 13 Alofa Alofa, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Karl Dickson, 8 James Chisholm, 7 Luke Wallace, 6 Chris Robshaw, 5 James Horwill (captain), 4 George Merrick, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Rob Buchanan, 1 Joe Marler
Replacements: 16 Joe Gray, 17 Mark Lambert, 18 Will Collier, 19 Sam Twomey, 20 Mat Luamanu, 21 Charlie Mulchrone, 22 Tim Swiel, 23 Joe Marchant
Northampton: 15 Ahsee Tuala, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 George Pisi, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 George North, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Teimana Harrison, 7 Calum Clark, 6 Tom Wood (captain), 5 Michael Paterson, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Mikey Haywood, 1 Alex Waller
Replacements: 16 Charlie Clare, 17 Ethan Waller, 18 Paul Hill, 19 Sam Dickinson, 20 Louis Picamoles, 21 Lee Dickson, 22 Harry Mallinder, 23 Ben Foden
Referee: Ian Tempest
Assistant referees: Paul Burton, Ross Campbell
TMO: David Sainsbury
Sunday, October 9
Saracens v Wasps
(Allianz Park - Kick-off: 15.00; 14.00 GMT)
Saracens have lost just one of their last ten fixtures against Wasps in all competitions but that was with a 23-64 scoreline at Allianz Park in February – the most points Saracens have ever conceded in a Premiership Rugby home game.
Saracens solitary defeat in any competition since March was 10-17 to Harlequins at Twickenham Stoop in Round four of Premiership Rugby, whilst they have not been defeated at Allianz Park since Northampton were the visitors in Round 15 last season.
Wasps reside at the top of the Premiership Rugby table courtesy of an unblemished winning record this campaign. Prior to this season, Wasps had only ever topped the table in Premiership Rugby after a complete round of games just four times, the last of which was in season 2009/10.
Saracens: 15 Sean Maitland, 14 Mike Ellery, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Brad Barritt (captain), 11 Chris Wyles, 10 Alex Lozowski, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Michael Rhodes, 5 George Kruis, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Juan Figallo, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Mako Vunipola
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Titi Lamositele, 18 Petrus du Plessis, 19 Jim Hamilton, 20 Jackson Wray, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Nick Tompkins, 23 Matt Gallagher
Wasps: 15 Rob Miller, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Jimmy Gopperth (captain), 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 Thomas Young, 6 Ashley Johnson, 5 Kearnan Myall, 4 Matt Symons, 3 Marty Moore, 2 Tommy Taylor, 1 Simon McIntyre
Replacements: 16 Tom Cruse, 17 Matt Mullan, 18 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 19 Joe Launchbury, 20 Alex Rieder, 21 Joe Simpson, 22 Kyle Eastmond, 23 Frank Halai
Referee: Matthew Carley
Assistant referees: Craig Maxwell-Keys, Philip Watters
TMO: Graham Hughes