Preview: Premiership, Round 15
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Matt Scott is demanding a reaction from Gloucester as they prepare to take on champions Saracens on Friday, just six days after their Premiership defeat at Leicester Tigers.
David Humphreys' side went down 9-34 at Welford Road and the Director of Rugby later described it as their worst performance of the season.
Saracens also lost at the weekend as they were beaten by Worcester Warriors, and both sides will be desperate to regain form and confidence in front of the TV cameras and a raucous crowd.
And centre Scott is confident his side will not repeat their display of last week and sharpen up for a match against the European champions.
"Saracens are very good at what they do and you know what they are going to bring. They have physicality in their defence, great line speed and if we played like we did against Leicester they will walk all over us," he said.
"I am expecting a big reaction from the boys. Last week was a kick up the backside for us, I don't think there will be a lack of motivation.
"I expect them to have a big reaction this week and that makes them a more dangerous proposition than normal. But they might be feeling the pressure, you never know.
"Mentally the mind sharpens a bit because you know you are playing a team that can put a big score on you if you don't play well.
"We played really well there this year and we were really disappointed not to get a win in that game and that just shows you how competitive we have been against them.
"They hold no fear for us. We know we can play a good game against them and match them, so that game will give us confidence."
Scott was named as a replacement against the Tigers after being released from the Scotland Six Nations squad.
And the 26-year-old says he was desperate to play rugby after a few weeks away, and is intent on ensuring Gloucester perform on Friday.
"I was really excited to get back on the pitch because there were a couple of weeks where I had just been training and then watching it on the TV," he said.
"It was hard to switch from Scotland calls to Gloucester calls, it was quite hard mentally. There are a lot of things going on but after the first day of training and reading over my notes I got back into it quickly.
"Against Leicester, it is one of those where we did not turn up to the game physically. We spoke about that beforehand and knew we had to do that there.
"Your collisions, your carrying and your breakdown work has to be up there but it was not for us. Hopefully it is just a blip because we have been able to bring physicality all season."
We look ahead to all the Round 15 action!
Friday, February 17:
Gloucester v Saracens
(Kingsholm - Kick-off: 19.45; 19.45 GMT)
Gloucester's only defeat at Kingsholm in any tournament since early October was by a single point to Northampton Saints in Round 12 of the Premiership.
Saracens not lost back-to-back first team games since May 2015, but have lost two of their last three away games in the Premiership.
Gloucester have already beaten Saracens at Kingsholm this season: 36-32 in the Anglo-Welsh Cup, but in the Premiership they have won only one of their last seven fixtures with Saracens.
Gloucester: 15 Tom Marshall, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Matt Scott, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 David Halaifonua, 10 Billy Burns, 9 Willi Heinz (captain), 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Jacob Rowan, 6 Ross Moriarty, 5 Jeremy Thrush, 4 Tom Savage, 3 Salesi Ma'afu, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Josh Hohneck
Replacements: 16 Motu Matu'u, 17 Yann Thomas, 18 Paul Doran-Jones, 19 Mariano Galarza, 20 Lewis Ludlow, 21 Callum Braley, 22 James Hook, 23 Henry Trinder
Saracens: 15 Duncan Taylor, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 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 Juan Figallo, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Mako Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Jared Saunders, 17 Richard Barrington, 18 Petrus Du Plessis, 19 Mark Flanagan, 20 Kelly Brown, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Max Malins, 23 Matt Gallagher.
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant referees: Jack Makepeace, Nigel Carrick
TMO: David Grashoff
Saturday, February 18:
Leicester v Bristol
(Welford Road - Kick-off: 15.00; 15.00 GMT)
Leicester Tigers only defeat in their last six Premiership games at Welford Road was to Saracens on New Year's Day.
Bristol have lost their last six matches in all competitions since beating Sale Sharks 24-23 at AJ Bell Stadium on January 1, their only away victory in the Premiership since 2008, although they have picked up a losing bonus point in four of their last six defeats on the road.
Leicester have won their last six matches against Bristol since their defeat at Ashton Gate in April 2007, whilst Bristol's only victory at Welford Road since 1987 came in the quarterfinal of the Zurich Championship in May 2002.
Leicester Tigers: 15 Telusa Veainu, 14 Adam Thompstone, 13 Jack Roberts, 12 Maxime Mermoz, 11 JP Pietersen, 10 Owen Williams, 9 Sam Harrison, 8 Luke Hamilton, 7 Brendon O'Connor, 6 Mike Williams, 5 Mike Fitzgerald, 4 Dom Barrow, 3 Pat Cilliers, 2 Tom Youngs (captain), 1 Michele Rizzo.
Replacements: 16 George McGuigan, 17 Ellis Genge, 18 Greg Bateman, 19 Tom Croft, 20 Harry Thacker, 21 Jono Kitto, 22 Mathew Tait, 23 Matt Smith.
Bristol: 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Jack Wallace, 13 Siale Piutau, 12 Tusi Pisi, 11 Thretton Palamo, 10 Adrian Jarvis, 9 Will Cliff, 8 Jordan Crane (captain), 7 Jack Lam, 6 Mitch Eadie, 5 Mark Sorenson, 4 Dan Tuohy, 3 Gaston Cortes, 2 Rob Hawkins, 1 Ryan Bevington.
Replacements: 16 Marc Jones, 17 Jack O’Connell, 18 Jamal Ford-Robinson, 19 James Phillips, 20 Sam Jeffries, 21 Alby Mathewson, 22 Gavin Henson, 23 Will Hurrell.
Referee: Thomas Foley
Assistant referees: Andrew P Jackson, Hamish Smales
TMO: David Sainsbury
Bath v Harlequins
(Recreation Ground - Kick-off: 15.00; 15.00 GMT)
Bath only two defeats at the Recreation Ground this season were 20-21 to Leicester in the Anglo-Welsh Cup and 11-17 to Exeter Chiefs in the Premiership.
Harlequins have won their last three encounters with Bath since Bath's 27-26 victory at Twickenham Stoop in May 2015 whilst Quins are going for successive victories at the Recreation Ground for the first time in the professional era.
Bath: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Max Clark, 12 Rory Jennings, 11 Jack Wilson, 10 Rhys Priestland (co-captain), 9 Kahn Fotuali'i, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Francois Louw (co-captain), 6 David Denton, 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 Tom Ellis, 20 Paul Grant, 21 Chris Cook, 22 Adam Hastings, 23 Harry Davies.
Harlequins: 15 Aaron Morris, 14 Marland Yarde, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Matt Hopper, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Ruaridh Jackson, 9 Charlie Mulchrone, 8 Mat Luamanu, 7 Dave Ward (captain), 6 James Chisholm, 5 Charlie Matthews, 4 Mark Reddish, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Rob Buchanan, 1 Owen Evans.
Replacements: 16 Joe Gray, 17 Tyler Gendall, 18 Matt Shields, 19 George Merrick, 20 George Naoupu, 21 Luc Jones, 22 Nick Evans, 23 Alofa Alofa.
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Assistant referees: Tim Wigglesworth, Roger Baileff
TMO: David Rose
Worcester Warriors v Exeter Chiefs
(Sixways - Kick-off: 15.00; 15.00 GMT)
Worcester Warriors have won three of their last four first team matches whilst their only defeat in their last five matches at Sixways was 22-28 to Harlequins in the Anglo-Welsh Cup on January 28.
Exeter Chiefs are the best away side in the Premiership having garnered 22 league points from their seven trips so far this season. The Chiefs have drawn their last two games in the Premiership - no side has ever drawn three in succession.
The two sides have met on nine previous occasions in the Premiership with Chiefs winning all nine. Worcester’s most recent success over Exeter came at the old County Ground in Division One in March 2004.
Worcester 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 Dewald Potgieter, 6 Chris Vui, 5 Will Spencer, 4 Donncha O'Callaghan (captain), 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Jaba Bregvadze, 1 Ryan Bower.
Replacements: 16 Joe Taufete'e, 17 Val Rapava Ruskin, 18 Biyi Alo, 19 Tevita Cavubati , 20 Sam Lewis, 21 Luke Baldwin, 22 Ryan Lamb, 23 Ben Howard.
Exeter Chiefs: 15 Phil Dollman, 14 Olly Woodburn, 13 Michele Campagnaro, 12 Henry Slade, 11 James Short, 10 Gareth Steenson (captain), 9 Jack Maunder, 8 Sam Simmonds, 7 Don Armand, 6 Dave Dennis, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Mitch Lees, 3 Harry Williams, 2 Jack Yeandle, 1 Ben Moon.
Replacements: 16 Shaun Malton, 17 Carl Rimmer, 18 Tomas Francis, 19 Sam Skinner, 20 Thomas Waldrom, 21 Stuart Townsend, 22 Ian Whitten, 23 Lachie Turner.
Referee: JP Doyle
Assistant referees: Dean Richards, Paul Burton
TMO: Rowan Kitt
Sunday, February 19:
Sale Sharks v Wasps
(AJ Bell Stadium - Kick-off: 15.00; 15.00 GMT)
Sale Sharks have won their last four matches in all competitions, and have won their last three matches at AJ Bell Stadium since losing there to Bristol 23-24 in the Premiership on January 1.
Wasps are unbeaten in the last six rounds of the Premiership since Gloucester defeated them at Kingsholm on November 19, dropping just four possible league points in that sequence and drawing 35-all at Exeter last time out.
The last five meetings between the two clubs in the Premiership have gone in favour of the home side whilst Wasps have not achieved a Premiership double over the Sharks since season 2010/11.
Sale Sharks: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Denny Solomona, 13 Will Addison (captain), 12 Mark Jennings, 11 Byron McGuigan, 10 Sam James, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 Josh Beaumont, 7 Magnus Lund, 6 TJ Ioane, 5 George Nott, 4 Bryn Evans, 3 Halani Aulika, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Ross Harrison.
Replacements: 16 Cameron Neild, 17 James Flynn, 18 Kieran Longbottom, 19 Tom Curry, 20 Ben Curry, 21 Peter Stringer, 22 AJ MacGinty, 23 Johnny Leota.
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 James Gaskell, 4 Matt Symons, 3 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 2 Tommy Taylor, 1 Matt Mullan.
Replacements: 16 Carlo Festuccia, 17 Simon McIntyre, 18 Marty Moore, 19 Will Rowlands, 20 Jack Willis, 21 Joe Simpson, 22 Alapati Leiua, 23 Willie Le Roux.
Referee: Matthew Carley
Assistant referees: Ian Tempest, Anthony Woodthorpe
TMO: Sean Davey
Newcastle Falcons v Northampton Saints
(Kingston Park - Kick-off: 15.00; 15.00 GMT)
Northampton Saints 30-32 reversal at Bath in Round 14 ended a three-game winning run in the Premiership. The Saints only victory on the road in their last six first team games was by a single point at Gloucester in the Premiership on New Year's Day.
The Falcons have won their last two matches against the Saints in the Premiership to end a seven-year barren spell against the East Midlanders – they have not achieved a Premiership double over Northampton since 2008-09.
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Alex Tait, 14 Vereniki Goneva, 13 Dominic Waldouck, 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Joel Hodgson, 9 Sonatane Takulua, 8 Nili Latu, 7 Will Welch (captain), 6 Mark Wilson, 5 Sean Robinson, 4 Calum Green, 3 Jon Welsh, 2 Kyle Cooper, 1 Rob Vickers.
Replacements: 16 Scott Lawson, 17 Ben Harris, 18 Scott Wilson, 19 Opeti Fonua, 20 Evan Olmstead, 21 Sam Egerton, 22 Mike Delany, 23 Chris Harris.
Northampton Saints: 15 Ahsee Tuala, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 Nafi Tuitavake, 12 Harry Mallinder, 11 Ben Foden (captain), 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Teimana Harrison, 7 Calum Clark, 6 Jamie Gibson, 5 Christian Day, 4 Api Ratuniyarawa, 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Mikey Haywood, 1 Alex Waller.
Replacements: 16 Charlie Clare, 17 Ethan Waller, 18 Paul Hill, 19 Michael Paterson, 20 Ben Nutley, 21 Lee Dickson, 22 Rory Hutchinson, 23 Juan Pablo Estelles.
Referee: Gregory M Garner
Assistant referees: Adam Leal, Wayne Falla
TMO: Stuart Terheege