Preview: Premiership, Round 12

Thu, 28 Dec 2017 13:27
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YEAR-END FEAST: The festive fixtures come thick and fast and the weekend's action is undoubtedly highlighted by the mouth-watering Big Game 10 at Twickenham Stadium.

Harlequins entertain Northampton Saints at Twickenham with both sides looking to end the year on a high.

In the reverse fixture at Franklin's Gardens in September, it was the Saints who came out on top in a high-scoring 30-22 encounter.

Quins' last two Premiership games have been decided by the narrowest of margins - at the beginning of December they edged out Saracens 20-19 at The Stoop, but just before Christmas they were on the wrong end of a 10-11 defeat by Newcastle Falcons.

Meanwhile, Northampton has not won in Premiership since these teams last met on September 30 and will be desperate to arrest that streak before the end of 2017.

The weekend's action starts on Friday, as Bath entertain Wasps under the lights and will look to do the double over their rivals.

A late Semesa Rokoduguni try and 12 points from the boot of Rhys Priestland helped Bath come out on top at the Ricoh Arena earlier in the season.

But before this season, Wasps had won the last four clashes between the two sides in Premiership.

Dai Young's troops have won their last five league games and are up to third in the table with Bath a couple of places lower in fifth.

And 2017 rounds off with top-of-the-table Exeter Chiefs entertaining Leicester Tigers at Sandy Park.

With a 10-point lead over second place Saracens, the Chiefs are guaranteed to end the year in top spot.

The Chiefs' run to the top of the table has seen them win their last six Premiership games but their last defeat did come against Leicester as the Tigers ran out 20-13 winners at Welford Road in September.

We look at all the Round 12 action!

Friday, December 29

Bath v Wasps
(Recreation Ground - Kick-off: 19.45; 19.45 GMT)

Bath have lost their last two Premiership fixtures, both away from home, at Exeter Chiefs and Sale Sharks.

However, at home their only two defeats in any competition this season have both been by a solitary point in Premiership: to Newcastle Falcons in round 4 and Gloucester in Round Seven.

Wasps only defeat in their last seven first-team matches was 29-49 at La Rochelle in Round Three of the European Champions Cup.

Wasps have not lost away from home in Premiership since a trip to Saracens on 8 October.

Teams:

Bath: 15 Anthony Watson, 14 Jack Wilson, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 James Wilson, 11 Aled Brew, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Kahn Fotuali'i, 8 Zach Mercer, 7 Paul Grant, 6 Matt Garvey (captain), 5 Luke Charteris, 4 Charlie Ewels, 3 Henry Thomas, 2 Tom Dunn, 1 Beno Obano.
Replacements: 16 Michael van Vuuren, 17 Lucas Noguera, 18 Max Lahiff, 19 Elliott Stooke, 20 James Phillips, 21 Chris Cook, 22 Freddie Burns, 23 Darren Atkins.

Wasps: 15 Willie Le Roux, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Juan De Jongh, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Marcus Watson, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Thomas Young, 6 James Haskell, 5 Kearnan Myall, 4 Joe Launchbury (captain), 3 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 2 Tom Cruse, 1 Simon McIntyre.
Replacements: 16 Ashley Johnson, 17 Ben Harris, 18 Marty Moore, 19 James Gaskell, 20 Guy Thompson, 21 Joe Simpson, 22 Rob Miller, 23 Gaby Lovobalavu.

Referee: Luke Pearce
Assistant referees: Hamish Smales & Adam Leal
TMO: David Rose

Saturday, December 30

Gloucester v Sale Sharks
(Kingsholm - Kick-off: 15.00; 15.00 GMT)

Gloucester's five-match winning run in Premiership ended with their 24-49 reversal at Wasps last Saturday.

The Cherry & Whites have won all eight matches they have played at Kingsholm this season since Exeter beat them there in Premiership in May.

Sale Sharks' only loss in their last five first-team matches was 6-14 at Cardiff Blues in the European Challenge Cup on 17 December.

The Sharks won their most recent away game in the Premiership, 18-14 at Worcester, and have not won successive matches on the road in the competition since November 2014.

The Sharks beat Gloucester 57-10 at AJ Bell Stadium in Round Five to end a four-game winning run by the Cherry & Whites in this particular encounter.

Sale has not been victorious at Kingsholm since September 2013.

Teams:

Gloucester: 15 Tom Marshall, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Billy Twelvetrees, 12 Andy Symons, 11 David Halaifonua, 10. Billy Burns, 9 Ben Vellacott, 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Lewis Ludlow, 6 Ruan Ackermann, 5 Jeremy Thrush, 4 Tom Savage (captain), 3 John Afoa, 2 James Hanson, 1 Josh Hohneck.
Replacements: 16 Richard Hibbard, 17 Cameron Orr, 18 Fraser Balmain, 19 Ed Slater, 20 Freddie Clarke, 21 Callum Braley, 22 Henry Trinder, 23 Jason Woodward.

Sale: 15 James O'Connor, 14 Denny Solomona, 13 Sam James, 12 Rohan Janse Van Rensburg, 11 Byron McGuigan, 10 AJ MacGinty, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Josh Strauss, 7 Ben Curry, 6 Jono Ross, 5 Andrei Ostrikov, 4 Bryn Evans, 3 WillGriff John, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Ross Harrison.
Replacements: 16 Marc Jones, 17 James Flynn, 18 Halani Aulika, 19 George Nott, 20 Cameron Neild, 21 Will Cliff, 22 Mike Haley, 23 Marland Yarde.

Referee: Andrew Jackson
Assistant referees: Jack Makepeace & Jonathan Healy
TMO: Sean Davey

London Irish v Newcastle Falcons
(Madejski Stadium - Kick-off: 15.00; 15.00 GMT)

London Irish are without a win in Premiership since their opening weekend success over Harlequins at Twickenham in September.

The Exiles have not won a game in any tournament at Madejski Stadium since beating Yorkshire Carnegie in the second leg of last season's Championship Final.

Newcastle Falcons have won their last four fixtures in all competitions since Gloucester beat them 29-7 at Kingston Park in Round Nine of Premiership.

The Falcons have lost just twice on the road in Premiership rugby since April, at Exeter in early October and at Wasps in mid-November.

Newcastle has won their last two matches against London Irish but have not won three in a row against the Exiles in Premiership since 2002, whilst Falcons most recent victory at Madejski Stadium in the tournament was 15-11 in November 2009.

Teams:

London Irish: 15 Greig Tonks, 14 Joe Cokanasiga, 13 Tom Fowlie, 12 Johnny Williams, 11 Alex Lewington, 10 James Marshall, 9 Scott Steele, 8 Ofisa Treviranus, 7 Max Northcote-Green, 6 Mike Coman (captain), 5 Teofilo Paulo, 4 Franco van der Merwe, 3 Petrus du Plessis, 2 Saia Fainga’a, 1 Gordon Reid.
Replacements: 16 Tom Woolstencroft, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Ollie Hoskins, 19 Sebastian De Chaves, 20 Blair Cowan, 21 Ben Meehan, 22 Theo Brophy Clews, 23 Aseli Tikoirotuma.

Newcastle: 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Alex Tait, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Vereniki Goneva, 10 Toby Flood, 9 Sonatane Takulua, 8 Nili Latu, 7 Gary Graham, 6 Mark Wilson (captain), 5 Sean Robinson, 4 Calum Green, 3 Jon Welsh, 2 Kyle Cooper, 1 Rob Vickers.
Replacements: 16 Ben Sowrey, 17 Sam Lockwood, 18 Scott Wilson, 19 Evan Olmstead, 20 Will Welch, 21 Michael Young, 22 Joel Hodgson, 23 Josh Matavesi.

Referee: Tom Foley
Assistant referees: Dean Richards & Wayne Falla
TMO: David Sainsbury

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

Saracens' seven-game losing run in all tournaments ended with their victory at Leicester on Christmas Eve.

Sarries have lost their last three matches at Allianz Park since beating London Irish there in Round Seven of the Premiership.

Worcester Warriors have won three of their last four Premiership matches with the defeat in that sequence being 14-18 at home to Sale in Round 10.

Warriors won their most recent away game in the tournament at Leicester but have not achieved successive away victories in Premiership since March 2016. Saracens only defeat to Worcester in their last eight Premiership encounters was 18-24 at Sixways in February 2016.

The Warriors only previous victory on Saracens soil was 20-17 at Vicarage Road in November 2006.

Teams

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Brad Barritt (captain), 11 Nathan Earle, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Ben Spencer, 8 Jackson Wray, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Michael Rhodes, 5 Nick Isiekwe, 4 Will Skelton, 3 Juan Figallo, 2 Jamie George, 1 Richard Barrington.
Replacements: 16 Christopher Tolofua, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Mark Flanagan, 20 Calum Clark, 21 Richard Wigglesworth, 22 Alex Lozowski, 23 Duncan Taylor.

Worcester Warriors: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Bryce Heem, 13 Jackson Willison, 12 Ryan Mills, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Sam Olver, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 GJ van Velze, 7 Sam Lewis, 6 David Denton, 5 Darren Barry, 4 Donncha O’Callaghan (captain), 3 Gareth Milasinovich, 2 Jack Singleton, 1 Ethan Waller.
Replacements: 16 Kurt Haupt, 17 Ryan Bower, 18 Simon Kerrod, 19 Pierce Phillips, 20 Alafoti Faosiliva, 21 Michael Dowsett, 22 Jamie Shillcock, 23 Perry Humphreys.

Referee: Christophe Ridley
Assistant referees: Simon McConnell & Phil Watters
TMO: Keith Lewis

Harlequins v Northampton Saints
(Twickenham Stadium - Kick-off: 16.00; 16.00 GMT)

Harlequins stage 'Big Game 10' at Twickenham where their previous record in the annual match is won four, drawn two, lost three.

'Quins only victory in their last six first-team games was 20-19 at Saracens in round 10 of Premiership.

The Londoners have already lost at Twickenham this season: 29-39 to London Irish in the London Double-header in September.

Northampton Saints have lost their last six matches in all competitions since their 41-7 victory at home to Dragons in the Anglo-Welsh Cup on 11 November, whilst they have not been victorious in Premiership since they hosted Harlequins at the end of September.

The Saints have played in four previous Premiership encounters at Twickenham, including two finals, winning two and losing two.

Northampton's only loss in their last ten fixtures with Harlequins in all competitions was 9-20 at Twickenham Stoop in Premiership in October 2016.

The two clubs have met twice before at Twickenham, Harlequins taking the 1991 Pilkington Cup in an extra time thriller, and Saints winning 30-25 in 'Big Game 7' in 2014.

Teams:

Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Charlie Walker, 13 Alofa Alofa, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Danny Care, 8 Mat Luamanu, 7 Chris Robshaw, 6 James Chisholm, 5 Ben Glynn, 4 George Merrick, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Dave Ward (captain), 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Elia Elia, 17 Lewis Boyce, 18 Phil Swainston, 19 Charlie Matthews, 20 Luke Wallace, 21 Jono Kitto, 22 James Lang, 23 Henry Cheeseman.

Northampton: 15 Harry Mallinder, 14 Ahsee Tuala, 13 Rob Horne, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 Ben Foden, 10 Piers Francis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Teimana Harrison, 7 Jamie Gibson, 6 Tom Wood, 5 Courtney Lawes, 4 Api Ratuniyarawa, 3 Jamal Ford-Robinson, 2 Dylan Hartley (captain), 1 Campese Ma’afu.
Replacements: 16 Mikey Haywood, 17 Francois van Wyk, 18 Paul Hill, 19 Michael Paterson, 20 Ben Nutley, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Stephen Myler, 23 George North.

Referee: JP Doyle
Assistant referees: Paul Dix & Nigel Carrick
TMO: Graham Hughes

Sunday, December 31

Exeter Chiefs v Leicester Tigers
(Sandy Park - Kick-off: 15.00; 15.00 GMT)

Exeter Chiefs have won their last six Premiership matches since their 13-20 defeat at Leicester in Round Five.

The Chiefs are unbeaten in their last thirteen Premiership encounters at Sandy Park, twelve of those including a try bonus.

Leicester Tigers have slipped to five straight defeats in all competitions and have not lost six in a row since 1965.

Leicester have won three times away from home in Premiership this season - at Harlequins in Round Four, London Irish in Round Six and Newcastle in Round Seven.

The Tigers have won their last two matches against Exeter: at Welford Road in September and at Twickenham Stoop in the final of the Anglo-Welsh Cup in March.

Leicester's record at Sandy Park in Premiership is won four lost three.

Teams:

Exeter Chiefs: 15 Lachie Turner, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Sam Hill, 11 Olly Woodburn, 10 Gareth Steenson (captain), 9 Will Chudley, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Don Armand, 6 Dave Ewers, 5 Jonny Hill, 4 Sam Skinner, 3 Harry Williams, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 1 Alec Hepburn.
Replacements: 16 Jack Yeandle, 17 Carl Rimmer, 18 Tomas Francis, 19 Mitch Lees, 20 Sam Simmonds, 21 Nic White, 22 Ian Whitten, 23 James Short.

Leicester Tigers: 15 Mathew Tait, 14 Adam Thompstone, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Jonny May, 10 George Ford (captain), 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Sione Kalamafoni, 7 Luke Hamilton, 6 Mike Williams, 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 Mike Fitzgerald, 3 Dan Cole , 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Logovi’i Mulipola.
Replacements: 16 Tom Youngs, 17 Kyle Traynor, 18 Chris Baumann, 19 Harry Wells, 20 Valentino Mapapalangi, 21 Sam Harrison, 22 Joe Ford, 23 Nick Malouf.

Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Assistant referees: Anthony Woodthorpe & Luke Pearce
TMO: Geoff Warren

Source: @premrugby

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FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Sat, 20 January 2018
Montpellier v Leinster 13h00 Altrad Stadium
Glasgow Warriors v Exeter Chiefs 13h00 Scotstoun Stadium
Cheetahs v Kings 15h00 Bloemfontein
Saracens v Northampton Saints 15h15 Allianz Park
Clermont Auvergne v Ospreys 15h15 Stade Marcel-Michelin
Treviso v Bath 17h30 Stadio Comunale di Monigo
Scarlets v Toulon 17h30 Parc y Scarlets
Sun, 21 January 2018
Leicester Tigers v Racing Metro 13h00 Welford Road
Munster v Castres 13h00 Thomond Park
La Rochelle v Harlequins 15h15 Stade Marcel-Deflandre
Wasps v Ulster 15h15 Ricoh Arena
PREMIERSHIP
MORE LOGS
Team P W D L Pts
Exeter Chiefs 13 10 0 3 50
Saracens 13 9 0 4 45
Wasps 13 8 0 5 39
Gloucester 13 8 0 5 38
Bath 13 7 0 6 37
Newcastle Falcons 13 8 0 5 36
Sale Sharks 13 6 0 7 33
Leicester Tigers 13 7 0 6 32
Harlequins 13 6 0 7 32
Northampton Saints 13 5 0 8 26
Worcester Warriors 13 3 0 10 19
London Irish 13 1 0 12 10