Preview: Premiership, Round 14
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Mat Luamanu has stressed the need for Harlequins to be quick out of the blocks if they are going to get back to winning ways against Bristol at Ashton Gate this weekend.
Harlequins lost their Anglo-Welsh cup game at the Stoop on Friday after a late Will Addison penalty sealed a 10-13 victory for Sale Sharks and ended their unbeaten run in the competition.
John Kingston's side won their first three pool games, ensuring a first-place finish in Pool Three, but victory against Sale would have ensured a much more comfortable home semifinal.
And a home tie would have suited Quins considering their struggles on the road this season which has seen them winless away from home in Premiership.
With Kingston's side sitting in seventh in the table though, just one point off fifth, Luamanu thinks a win this weekend could kick-start a push for the play-off places but has emphasised the importance of a quick start.
"If we can get out the blocks quick in the first 20 minutes we should be okay, but a fast start is key and we need to control the tempo of the game if we're going to come away with the win," Luamanu said.
"We're just hoping to get our set piece right and hopefully we'll come away with the result.
"We had a poor first half against Sale, we were slow out of the blocks and it cost us so for us what's vital is getting going and getting control of the first 20 minutes of the game.
"The next few weeks are important for us but this week is our first priority and getting the win at Bristol could set us up for a challenge for the top four.
"We'll take it week-by-week and hopefully start by getting a win at Bristol this weekend."
And Luamanu knows that, despite sitting bottom of the table, Bristol will give them a stern test and the No.8 thinks their hard-fought 28-22 Anglo-Welsh victory away at Worcester two weeks ago will give them a boost heading into the game.
"We got an away win against Worcester which was a tough place to go and that gives us confidence but we know that going away to Bristol is going to be a tough game for us," he added.
"We're looking forward to this weekend and getting back into the Premiership. All the boys are excited to get back into the Premiership and these next few games."
We look ahead to all the Round 14 action!
Friday, 10 February:
Bristol v Harlequins
(Ashton Gate - Kick-off: 19.45; 19.45 GMT)
Bristol have won nine more points in their last three games. Bristol won 28-20 in their most recent game at Ashton Gate in the competition but have not won two in a row at home in the Premiership since 2007-08.
Harlequins have won their last seven encounters with Bristol in the Premiership since their 20-33 reversal at Memorial Stadium in October 2006, although Bristol did win both fixtures in the European Cup played in December 2007.
Bristol: 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Jack Wallace, 13 Will Hurrell, 12 Tusi Pisi, 11 Tom Varndell, 10 Billy Searle, 9 Will Cliff, 8 Mitch Eadie, 7 Olly Robinson (captain), 6 Nick Fenton-Wells, 5 Ben Glynn, 4 Dan Tuohy, 3 Gaston Cortes, 2 Rob Hawkins, 1 Ryan Bevington.
Replacements: 16 Max Crumpton, 17 Jack O’Connell, 18 Jamal Ford-Robinson, 19 Mark Sorenson, 20 Jack Lam, 21 Alby Mathewson, 22 Thretton Palamo, 23 David Lemi.
Harlequins: 15 Ross Chisholm, 14 Marland Yarde, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Matt Hopper, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Ruaridh Jackson, 9 Charlie Mulchrone, 8 Mat Luamanu, 7 Dave Ward, 6 James Chisholm, 5 James Horwill (captain), 4 George Merrick, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Rob Buchanan, 1 Owen Evans.
Replacements: 16 Joe Gray, 17 Matt Shields, 18 Tyler Gendall, 19 Mark Reddish, 20 George Naoupu, 21 Luc Jones, 22 Tim Swiel, 23 Alofa Alofa.
Referee: Matthew Carley
Assistant Referees: Anthony Woodthorpe, Jonathan Healy
TMO: David Sainsbury
Bath v Northampton Saints
(Recreation Ground - Kick-off: 19.45pm; 19.45 GMT)
Northampton Saints have won their last three Premiership fixtures since their 11-19 defeat against Leicester Tigers at Welford Road on December 3.
Bath beat Northampton 18-14 at Franklin's Gardens in Round One this season to end a 10-game winless run against the Saints in all competitions.
Bath have only once before recorded a Premiership season double over Northampton, doing so in 1999-2000. The Saints are unbeaten in their last five visits to the Recreation Ground.
Bath: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Max Clark, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Jack Wilson, 10 Rhys Priestland (co-captain), 9 Kahn Fotuali'i, 8 Paul Grant, 7 Francois Louw (co-captain), 6 Tom Ellis, 5 Charlie Ewels, 4 Elliott Stooke, 3 Max Lahiff, 2 Tom Dunn, 1 Nathan Catt.
Replacements: 16 Ross Batty, 17 Beno Obano, 18 Kane Palma-Newport, 19 David Denton, 20 Guy Mercer, 21 Chris Cook, 22 Adam Hastings, 23 Harry Davies.
Northampton: 15 Ahsee Tuala, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 Nafi Tuitavake, 12 Harry Mallinder, 11 Ben Foden (captain), 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Sam Dickinson, 7 Teimana Harrison, 6 Jamie Gibson 5 Christian Day, 4 Michael Paterson, 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Mikey Haywood, 1 Alex Waller.
Replacements: 16 Charlie Clare, 17 Ethan Waller, 18 Paul Hill, 19 Api Ratuniyarawa, 20 Calum Clark, 21 Lee Dickson, 22 Rory Hutchinson, 23 James Wilson.
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant Referees: JP Doyle, Jack Makepeace
TMO: Geoff Warren
Sale Sharks v Newcastle Falcons
(AJ Bell Stadium - Kick-off: 20.15; 20.15 GMT)
The Sharks most recent victory in the competition was on a visit to Bristol on October 30, whilst their most recent home win in the tournament came against Leicester in Round Five.
Newcastle Falcons have picked up 15 league points from their last five fixtures in the Premiership, recording victories at Northampton and at home to Harlequins and Bath, with the two reversals in that time being against to the top two in the table: Wasps and Saracens.
Sale Sharks: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Denny Solomona, 13 Sam James, 12 Mark Jennings, 11 Will Addison (captain), 10 AJ MacGinty, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 TJ Ioane, 7 Magnus Lund, 6 Cameron Neild, 5 Jonathan Mills, 4 Bryn Evans, 3 Halani Aulika, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Ross Harrison.
Replacements: 16 Ben Curry, 17 James Flynn, 18 Kieran Longbottom, 19 George Nott, 20 David Seymour, 21 Peter Stringer, 22 Johnny Leota, 23 Byron McGuigan.
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Alex Tait, 14 Belisario Agulla, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Vereniki Goneva, 10 Joel Hodgson, 9 Sonatane Takulua, 8 Opeti Fonua, 7 Will Welch (captain), 6 Mark Wilson, 5 Sean Robinson, 4 Calum Green, 3 Jon Welsh, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Rob Vickers,
Replacements: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Ben Harris, 18 Scott Wilson, 19 Evan Olmstead, 20 Nili Latu, 21 Sam Egerton, 22 Mike Delany, 23 Dominic Waldouck.
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Assistant Referees: Tim Wigglesworth, Peter Allan
TMO: Trevor Fisher
Saturday 11 February:
Leicester Tigers v Gloucester
(Welford Road - Kick-off: 15.00; 15.00 GMT)
Gloucester beat Worcester Warriors 55-19 at Kingsholm in Round 13 – their highest total in the competition since 2011.
Gloucester's only away victory in the Premiership this season came at Sale in Round Three, although they have obtained two draws - at Worcester in Round Two and at Exeter in Round Six.
Leicester's only defeat to Gloucester in their last eight encounters was 16-33 at Kingsholm in October 2014 whilst Gloucester's most recent success at Welford Road was 30-17 on October 6, 2007.
Leicester Tigers: 15 Mathew Tait, 14 Adam Thompstone, 13 Jack Roberts, 12 Matt Smith, 11 Tom Brady, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Jono Kitto, 8 Luke Hamilton, 7 Brendon O'Connor, 6 Mike Fitzgerald, 5 Dom Barrow, 4 Ed Slater, 3 Pat Cilliers, 2 Tom Youngs (captain), 1 Michele Rizzo.
Replacements: 16 George McGuigan, 17 Ellis Genge, 18 Greg Bateman, 19 Mike Williams, 20 Harry Thacker, 21 Sam Harrison, 22 Owen Williams, 23 Maxime Mermoz.
Gloucester: 15 Tom Marshall, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Andy Symons, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 Henry Purdy, 10 Billy Burns, 9 Willi Heinz (captain), 8 Sione Kalamafoni, 7 Jacob Rowan, 6 Lewis Ludlow, 5 Jeremy Thrush, 4 Tom Savage, 3 John Afoa, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Josh Hohneck.
Replacements: 16 Motu Matu'u, 17 Yann Thomas, 18 Salesi Ma'afu, 19 Mariano Galarza, 20 Matt Kvesic, 21 Callum Braley, 22 James Hook, 23 Matt Scott.
Referee: Ian Tempest
Assistant Referees: Dean Richards, Simon McConnell
TMO: Graham Hughes
Worcester Warriors v Saracens
(Sixways - Kick-off: 15.00; 15.00 GMT)
Saracens have lost just one of their last nine Premiership fixtures: 11-14 at Bath in Round 10.
Saracens have conceded only ten tries in the 13 rounds so far, but surprisingly have not achieved a try bonus point themselves since their victory over Wasps in Round Six.
Saracens have won their last seven encounters with Worcester in all competitions since the Warriors 12-3 victory at Sixways in the Premiership in November 2012.
Warriors: 15 Josh Adams, 14 Bryce Heem, 13 Wynand Olivier, 12 Jackson Willison, 11 Perry Humphreys, 10 Ryan Mills, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Alafoti Faosiliva, 7 Sam Lewis, 6 Chris Vui, 5 Will Spencer, 4 Donncha O’Callaghan(captain), 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Jack Singleton, 1 Val Rapava Ruskin.
Replacements: 16 Jaba Bregvadze, 17 Ryan Grant, 18 Biyi Alo, 19 Tevita Cavubati, 20 Marco Mama, 21 Luke Baldwin, 22 Ryan Lamb, 23 Ben Howard.
Saracens: 15 Matt Gallagher, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Nick Tompkins, 12 Brad Barritt(captain), 11 Mike Ellery, 10 Alex Lozowski, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Jackson Wray, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Will Fraser, 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 Kelly Brown, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Max Malins, 23 Marcelo Bosch.
Referee: Tom Foley
Assistant Referees: Hamish Smales, Paul Dix
TMO: Keith Lewis
Sunday. February 12:
Exeter Chiefs v Wasps
(Sandy Park - Kick-off: 13.00; 13.00 GMT)
Exeter Chiefs only defeat in the last eight rounds of the Premiership was 10-13 at home to Bath at the end of October.
The Chiefs are the best side in the competition on current form having tallied 25 league points from their last six matches.
Wasps have won their last five Premiership fixtures since their 18-36 defeat at Gloucester in Round Eight. They are the Premiership's top try-scoring side with 51 have run in ten more tries than their nearest rivals this campaign.
Exeter Chiefs: 15 Phil Dollman, 14 Olly Woodburn, 13 Ian Whitten, 12 Ollie Devoto, 11 James Short, 10 Gareth Steenson (captain), 9 Jack Maunder, 8 Sam Simmonds, 7 Don Armand, 6 Dave Dennis, 5 Jonny Hill, 4 Mitch Lees, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 1 Ben Moon.
Replacements: 16 Jack Yeandle, 17 Carl Rimmer, 18 Harry Wiliams, 19 Sam Skinner, 20 Tom Johnson, 21 Stuart Townsend, 22 Henry Slade, 23 Lachie Turner.
Wasps: 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Jimmy Gopperth, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Alex Rieder, 7 Thomas Young, 6 Ashley Johnson (captain), 5 Kearnan Myall, 4 Matt Symons, 3 Marty Moore, 2 Carlo Festuccia, 1 Simon McIntyre.
Replacements: 16 Tom Cruse, 17 Tom Bristow, 18 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 19 Will Rowlands, 20 James Gaskell, 21 Joe Simpson, 22 Alapati Leiua, 23 Frank Halai.
Referee: Greg Garner
Assistant Referees: Adam Leal, Ross Campbell
TMO: David Grashoff