Preview: Premiership, Round Nine
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: After failing to sneak to the top of the Premiership table, Wasps scrumhalf Dan Robson is addimint that his side can redeemed themselve against Sale Sharks this weekend.
The 24-year-old Robson started Wasps’ 36-18 loss to Gloucester – the club where he began his career – as late tries from Matt Scott and Charlie Sharples denied Dai Young’s team even a losing bonus point.
They missed the chance to go top of the Premiership Rugby table as a result, suffering only their second league defeat of the season.
That makes Sunday’s clash with Sale all the more important, and despite the disappointment of losing against his former team, Robson insists there were positives to take from the game.
He said: "It was pretty disappointing from our point of view but we were a bit off the boil and they had a game plan to put us under pressure.
"It’s always nice to go back and see some old friends, but that’s two years in a row that we have lost down there. It’s a tough place to go.
"Having had a chance to look back, we were pretty disappointed with a lot of things, but there were also a lot of good things that we maybe hadn’t thought of. It’s about cutting out those little errors.
"We know taking on Sale will be very difficult. They are always massively physical up front and then they have some exciting young talents in the backs. It will be a massive test for us.
"From a scrumhalf perspective you have 38-year-old Peter Stringer who is going unbelievably well, and then Mike Phillips with all his big game experience as well. So it’s another experience for me to learn from,"
One of the biggest changes for Robson this season has been his half-back partner, with Danny Cipriani having stepped into the role since joining from Sale.
Jimmy Gopperth has been used more often in the centres or even at full-back with Cipriani used most often in the ten shirt.
And the more the season goes on, the more Robson believes the pair are starting to function on the same wavelength.
He added: "It’s a growing relationship, and it will take time. But it’s been good and we’ve been learning off each other.
"It’s one of the nice things to know that we are only going to get stronger as the season goes on.
"Overall the season has been going quite well for me although I’ve had a few little niggles which was a bit frustrating. That stopped being getting a bit of rhythm.
"But we’ve had a good start to the season as a team and now we’ve got a big week coming up with the Sale game,"
We take a look at all the Round Nine action!
Friday, November 25
Bristol Rugby v Leicester Tigers
(Ashton Gate, Bristol - Kick-off: 19.45; 21.45 GMT)
Bristol Rugby’s only victory in any tournament this season is 26-11 at home to Sale in the Anglo-Welsh Cup on November 11. Bristol have lost their last six Premiership Rugby matches at Ashton Gate with their most recent victory at the venue in the competition being 30-13 against Leicester in April 2007. They have yet to claim a league point there this season.
Leicester Tigers only defeat in their last five first team games was 10-24 at Saracens in Round Seven of Premiership Rugby. The Tigers have not won away from home in Premiership Rugby since beating Newcastle at Kingston Park on September 18.
The two clubs first met in 1897 but have not clashed since April 2009 when Leicester recorded a record breaking 73-3 victory in a round 22 Premiership Rugby encounter played at Leicester City FCs King Power (Walkers) Stadium.
Bristol: 15 Jordan Williams 14 Ryan Edwards, 13 Jason Woodward, 12 Will Hurrell, 11 Jack Tovey 10 Billy Searle, 9 Rhodri Williams, 8 Jordan Crane (captain), 7 Olly Robinson, 6 Mitch Eadie, 5 Mark Sorenson, 4 Ian Evans, 3 Gaston Cortes, 2 Marc Jones, 1 Kyle Traynor
Replacements: 16 Rob Hawkins, 17 Ryan Bevington, 18 Jamal Ford-Robinson, 19 James Phillips, 20 Jon Fisher, 21 Will Cliff, 22 Adrian Jarvis, 23 Jack Wallace
Leicester Tigers: 15 George Worth, 14 Adam Thompstone, 13 Peter Betham, 12 Owen Williams, 11 Tom Brady, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Sam Harrison 8 Luke Hamilton, 7 Will Evans, 6 Mike Fitzgerald, 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 Ed Slater, 3 Greg Bateman, 2 Tom Youngs (captain), 1 Ellis Genge
Replacements: 16 Harry Thacker, 17 Riccardo Brugnara, 18 Pat Cilliers, 19 Harry Wells, 20 Lachlan McCaffrey, 21 Jono Kitto, 22 Manu Tuilagi, 23 Jack Roberts
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth
Assistant referees: Gareth Copsey, Peter Allan
TMO: Sean Davey
Northampton Saints v Newcastle Falcons
(Franklin’s Gardens, Northampton - Kick-off: 19.45; 21.45 GMT)
Northampton Saints have won their last four matches in all tournaments since tripping up at Castres in the European Champions Cup on October 22. The Saints have not been defeated at Franklin’s Gardens since Wasps were the visitors in Round four of Premiership Rugby.
Newcastle Falcons have slipped to defeat in their last four first team fixtures since beating Grenoble 50-7 at Kingston Park in the European Challenge Cup a month ago. The Falcon’s solitary away victory in their last 26 such fixtures since February 2015 was 18-13 at Gloucester on September 24.
The two clubs have already met in the Anglo-Welsh Cup this season with Saints running out 24-16 victors at Kingston Park three weeks ago. Newcastle won their most recent encounter with Northampton in Premiership Rugby by a single point in February to end an eleven game losing run to that opponent in the tournament.
Northampton Saints: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Jamie Elliott, 13 Luther Burrell, 12 Rory Hutchinson, 11 Tom Collins, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Tom Kessell, 8 Ben Nutley, 7 Jamie Gibson, 6 Michael Paterson, 5 Christian Day (captain), 4 James Craig, 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Mikey Haywood, 1 Alex Waller.
Replacements: 16 Charlie Clare, 17 Ethan Waller, 18 Paul Hill, 19 Jordan Onojaife, 20 Lewis Ludlam, 21 Nic Groom, 22 JJ Hanrahan, 23 James Wilson.
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Alex Tait, 14 Vereniki Goneva, 13 Dominic Waldouck, 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Marcus Watson, 10 Joel Hodgson, 9 Michael Young, 8 Ally Hogg, 7 Mark Wilson (captain), 6 Callum Chick, 5 Will Witty, 4 Calum Green, 3 David Wilson, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Rob Vickers
Replacements: 16 Ben Sowrey, 17 Alex Rogers, 18 Scott Wilson, 19 Nick Civetta, 20 Opeti Fonua, 21 Sam Egerton, 22 Brett Connon, 23 Fred Burdon
Referee: Andrew Jackson
Assistant referees: Ross Campbell, Jonathan Healy
TMO: David Sainsbury
Saturday, November 26
Exeter Chiefs v Worcester Warriors
(Sandy Park, Exeter - Kick-off: 16.30; 18.30 GMT)
Exeter Chiefs 32-19 victory in the long away trek to Newcastle in Premiership Rugby last Friday ended a three game winless run in the tournament. Exeter are one of only three sides in Premiership Rugby who this season have tallied fewer league points at home as they have picked up on their travels.
Worcester Warriors only victory in their last seven first team encounters was 31-25 at home to Bristol in the Anglo-Welsh Cup on November 4. The Warriors only two away victories since returning to the Premiership in 2015 both came in successive fixtures in March 2016, at Newcastle and at Harlequins.
Exeter have won all eight previous fixtures against Worcester in Premiership Rugby with the Warriors most recent success over the Chiefs being in Division One at the old County Ground in March 2004.
Exeter Chiefs: 15 Phil Dollman, 14 Olly Woodburn, 13 Ollie Devoto, 12 Ian Whitten, 11 James Short, 10 Gareth Steenson (captain), 9 Will Chudley, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Kai Horstmann, 6 Dave Dennis, 5 Jonny Hill, 4 Mitch Lees, 3 Harry Williams, 2 Jack Yeandle, 1 Ben Moon.
Replacements: 16 Shaun Malton, 17 Carl Rimmer, 18 Greg Holmes, 19 Geoff Parling, 20 Dave Ewers, 21 Jack Maunder, 22 Joe Simmonds, 23 Sam Hill
Worcester Warriors: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Bryce Heem, 13 Dean Hammond, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Jamie Shillcock, 9 Jonny Arr, 8 Phil Dowson (captain), 7 Carl Kirwan, 6 Dewald Potgieter, 5 Darren Barry, 4 Andrew Kitchener, 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Jack Singleton, 1 Val Rapava Ruskin.
Replacements: 16 Matti Williams, 17 Na'ama Leleimalefaga, 18 Mike Daniels, 19 Donncha O'Callaghan, 20 Sam Lewis, 21 Michael Dowsett, 22 Tom Biggs, 23 Jackson Willison.
Referee: Matthew O'Grady
Assistant referees: Andrew Pearce, Paul Burton
TMO: Geoff Warren
Sunday, November 27
Saracens v Gloucester Rugby
(Allianz Park, Saracens - Kick-off: 13.00; 15.00 GMT)
Saracens have lost just one of their last fifteen Premiership Rugby matches a 10-17 to Harlequins at Twickenham Stoop on September 24. Sarries have won their last eleven home games in all competitions since Northampton beat them at Allianz Park in Premiership Rugby last March.
Gloucester Rugby’s 36-18 victory at home to Wasps on Saturday ended a four game winless streak in Premiership Rugby and also doubled their tally of wins in the tournament this season. Gloucester’s only away victory in Premiership Rugby so far this campaign was 26-13 at Sale in Round three.
The two sides have already met in the Anglo-Welsh Cup this season with Gloucester securing a 36-32 victory at Kingsholm on November 5. Gloucester have not beaten Saracens in their own backyard since a trip to Vicarage Road in November 2008.
Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Mike Ellery, 13 Marcelo Bosch , 12 Brad Barritt (captain), 11 Chris Wyles, 10 Alex Lozowski, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Jackson Wray, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Kelly Brown, 5 Jim Hamilton, 4 Michael Rhodes, 3 Petrus Du Plessis, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Richard Barrington.
Replacements: 16 Jared Saunders, 17 Titi Lamositele, 18 Juan Figallo, 19 Mark Flanagan, 20 Joel Conlon, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Nick Tompkins, 23 Andrew Fenby
Gloucester: 15 James Hook, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Matt Scott, 12 Mark Atkinson, 11 Henry Purdy, 10 Billy Burns, 9 Willi Heinz (captain), 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Jacob Rowan, 6 Lewis Ludlow, 5 Mariano Galarza, 4 Tom Savage, 3 John Afoa, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Paddy McAllister.
Replacements: 16 Motu Matu'u, 17 Josh Hohneck, 18 Paul Doran-Jones, 19 Joe Latta, 20 Matt Kvesic, 21 Callum Braley, 22 Billy Twelvetrees, 23 Ollie Thorley
Referee: Greg Macdonald
Assistant referees: Phil Watters, Andy Watson
TMO: David Grashoff
Wasps v Sale Sharks
(Ricoh Arena - Kick-off: 14.30; 16.30 GMT)
Wasps have slipped to defeat in two of their last three Premiership Rugby matches to ruin their otherwise perfect start to the season. Wasps have won their last 15 fixtures at Ricoh Arena in 2016 since Saracens beat them there in Premiership Rugby on December 27.
Sale Sharks have won just two of their last six Premiership Rugby matches, at home to Leicester in Round five and away at Bristol in Round seven. The Sharks won their most recent away game in the tournament and have not secured back-to-back victories on the road since November 2014.
The two clubs have already met in the Anglo-Welsh Cup this season with Sharks winning 17-13 at AJ Bell Stadium on November 4, whilst the last four encounters between the two in Premiership Rugby have all gone in favour of the home team on the day.
Wasps: 15 Rob Miller, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Kyle Eastmond, 12 Jimmy Gopperth, 11 Frank Halai, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Joe Simpson, 8 Alex Rieder, 7 Thomas Young, 6 Ashley Johnson, 5 Kearnan Myall, 4 Matt Symons, 3 Marty Moore, 2 Tommy Taylor, 1 Matt Mullan (captain).
Replacements: 16 Jack Willis, 17 Tom Bristow, 18 Phil Swainston, 19 Will Rowlands, 20 James Gaskell, 21 Dan Robson, 22 Alapati Leiua, 23 Tom Howe
Sale Sharks: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Will Addison, 13 Sam James, 12 Sam Tuitupou, 11 Josh Charnley, 10 AJ MacGinty, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 Josh Beaumont (captain), 7 Ben Curry, 6 TJ Ioane, 5 Andrei Ostrikov, 4 Bryn Evans, 3 Brian Mujati, 2 Neil Briggs, 1 Ross Harrison.
Replacements: 16 Rob Webber, 17 James Flynn, 18 Halani Aulika, 19 Cameron Neild, 20 Tom Curry, 21 Peter Stringer, 22 Mark Jennings, 23 Tom Arscott.
Referee: Thomas Foley
Assistant referees: Roger Baileff, Nigel Carrick
TMO: Stuart Terheege
Harlequins v Bath Rugby
(Twickenham Stoop - Kick-off: 15.15; 17.15 GMT)
Harlequins last six matches in Premiership Rugby have all been won by the home side on the day. The Londoners have won their last six home games in all competitions since Exeter beat them at Twickenham Stoop in Round 22 last season.
Bath Rugby’s only defeat in the last nine rounds of Premiership Rugby was 14-34 at Leicester on
September 25, whilst their four away games in the tournament this season have yielded only 11 tries (5 for and 6 against).
Harlequins achieved a Premiership Rugby double over Bath last season for the first time since season 2011/12 whilst Bath’s only victory at the Twickenham Stoop in Premiership Rugby since September 2004 came in May 2015.
Harlequins: 15 Aaron Morris, 14 Marland Yarde, 13 Alofa Alofa, 12 Joe Marchant, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Nick Evans (c), 9 Karl Dickson, 8 Jack Clifford, 7 Luke Wallace, 6 James Chisholm, 5 Charlie Matthews, 4 George Merrick, 3 Will Collier, 2 Rob Buchanan, 1 Mark Lambert
Replacements: 16 Dave Ward, 17 Dan Murphy, 18 Adam Jones, 19 Stan South, 20 George Naoupu, 21 Charlie Mulchrone, 22 Tim Swiel, 23 Charlie Walker
Bath: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Max Clark, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Aled Brew, 10 Dan Bowden, 9 Darren Allinson, 8 Zach Mercer, 7 Guy Mercer, 6 Tom Ellis, 5 Dave Attwood, 4 Matt Garvey (captain), 3 Kane Palma-Newport, 2 Tom Dunn, 1 Nathan Catt
Replacements: 16 Michael van Vuuren, 17 Beno Obano, 18 Max Lahiff, 19 Paul Grant, 20 Levi Douglas, 21 Will Homer, 22 Adam Hastings, 23 Matt Banahan
Referee: Dean Richards
Assistant referees: Kevin Stewart, Simon McConnell
TMO: David Rose