Preview: Premiership, Round 13

Thu, 04 Jan 2018 15:50
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CRUNCH TIME: Reigning champions Exeter Chiefs may be ten points clear at the top of the table but a mere three points cover the next four clubs, as we head into the last round of Premiership Rugby before two rounds of Europe Champions Cup.

Round 13 kicks off on Friday at Sixways when Bath Rugby make the short trip north to take on the in-form Warriors who have lost just twice at home in any competition since September.

On Saturday the action is at Franklin’s Gardens, with matches also being staged at Welford Road and the AJ Bell Stadium.

While a cracking weekend ends with Newcastle Falcons at home to the Chiefs and Saracens making the trip to Coventry to take on Wasps.

We take a look at all the action of Round 13!

Friday, January 5

Worcester Warriors v Bath Rugby
(Sixways - Kick-off: 19.45, 19.45 GMT)

Worcester Warriors have won three of their last five Premiership Rugby matches, the last under Gary Gold with Alan Solomons taking over as head coach for this game.

The Warriors have lost just twice at Sixways in any competition since September, both to Sale, 21-24 in the Anglo-Welsh Cup and 14-18 in round 10 of Premiership Rugby.

Bath Rugby have been defeated in their last three Premiership Rugby matches but have not lost four in a row in the tournament since season 2011-12. Bath have not won away from home since beating London Irish at Madejski Stadium in round eight of Premiership Rugby. Bath’s only defeat in their last ten fixtures with Worcester was 19-25 at Sixways last April.

Teams:

Worcester: 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 Will Spencer, 4 Donncha O’Callaghan (captain), 3 Gareth Milasinovich, 2 Jack Singleton, 1 Ethan Waller
Replacements: 16 Joe Taufete’e, 17 Ryan Bower, 18 Simon Kerrod, 19 Darren Barry, 20 Alafoti Faosiliva, 21 Michael Dowsett, 22 Jamie Shillcock, 23 Perry Humphreys

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

Referee: JP Doyle
Assistant Referees: Anthony Woodthorpe and Paul Dix
TMO: Trevor Fisher.

Saturday, January 6

Leicester Tigers v London Irish
(Welford Road - Kick-off: 15.00, 15.00 GMT)  

Leicester Tigers have lost their last four Premiership Rugby matches and another defeat would equal their worst ever run in the history of the tournament, set between October and November 2003.

Tigers have lost their last three matches at Welford Road in all tournaments but have not lost four in a row at the famous venue since 1975.

London Irish have won just one of their last 17 Premiership Rugby matches 39-29 over Harlequins at Twickenham in the London double-header in September.

The Exiles most recent away win in the tournament was at London Welsh in February 2015. Leicester Tigers have lost just twice to London Irish since the two clubs met in the 2009 Premiership Rugby final at Twickenham: at Reading in October 2009 and at Welford Road in September 2014.

Teams:

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

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 Brendan McKibbin, 22 Theo Brophy Clews, 23 Aseli Tikoirotuma

Referee: Karl Dickson
Assistant Referees: Peter Allan and Roy Maybank.
TMO: Rowan Kitt.

Northampton Saints v Gloucester Rugby
(Franklin's Garden - Kick-off: 15.00, 15.00 GMT)

Northampton Saints have lost their last seven Premiership Rugby matches and have only once before had a worse run in the history of the competition – losing nine in a row in 2004.

The Saints only victory in their last six matches in all tournaments at Franklin’s Gardens was 41-7 over Dragons in the Anglo-Welsh Cup in November. Gloucester Rugby have lost just one of their last eight first-team matches: 24-49 at Wasps in round 11 of Premiership Rugby. The Cherry & Whites have won just twice on the road in Premiership Rugby this season, at Bath in round 7 and at Newcastle in round 9.

Gloucester beat Northampton 29-24 at Kingsholm in round 6 of Premiership Rugby but have not achieved a season’s double over The Saints since 2010-11. Gloucester’s most recent win at Franklin’s Gardens was 27-11 in Premiership Rugby in February 2013.

Teams:

Northampton Saints: 15 Ahsee Tuala, 14 Ben Foden, 13 Rob Horne, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 Ken Pisi, 10 Harry Mallinder, 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 Kieran Brookes, 19 Michael Paterson, 20 Ben Nutley, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 James Grayson, 23 Tom Stephenson

Gloucester: 15 Tom Marshall, 14 Jason Woodward, 13 Henry Trinder, 12 Andy Symons, 11 David Halaifonua, 10 Owen Williams, 9 Willi Heinz (captain), 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Jake Polledri, 6 Ruan Ackermann, 5 Mariano Galarza, 4 Ed Slater, 3 John Afoa, 2 James Hanson, 1 Josh Hohneck
Replacements: 16 Motu Matu’u, 17 Cameron Orr, 18 Fraser Balmain, 19 Tom Savage, 20 Lewis Ludlow, 21 Ben Vellacott, 22 Billy Twelvetrees, 23 Charlie Sharples

Referee: Ian Tempest
Assistant Referees: Jack Makepeace and Wayne Falla.
TMO: David Sainsbury.

Sale Sharks v Harlequins
(AJ Bell Stadium - Kick-off: 15.00, 15.00GMT)

Sale Sharks’ three-game winning run in Premiership Rugby ended at Gloucester on Saturday. The Sharks have lost just twice at AJ Bell Stadium in any tournament this season: both in Premiership Rugby, 12-13 to Newcastle in round 2 and 6-10 to Exeter in round 7.

Harlequins three-game losing run in all tournaments ended at Twickenham on Saturday with the eclipsing of Northampton in the “Big Game”.

Harlequins have won just once away from home in Premiership Rugby since March: 24-21 over Wasps at Coventry in round 3. The last five fixtures between the two clubs in Premiership Rugby have all been won by the home side on the day, whilst Harlequins most recent victory at AJ Bell Stadium was 25-23 in April 2015.

Teams:

Sale Sharks: 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 Jono Ross (captain), 7 Ben Curry, 6 Cameron Neild, 5 Andrei Ostrikov, 4 Bryn Evans, 3 WillGriffJohn, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Ross Harrison
Replacements: 16 Marc Jones, 17 James Flynn, 18 Halani Aulika, 19 George Nott, 20 TJ Ioane, 21 Will Cliff, 22 Mike Haley, 23 Will Addison

Harlequins: 15 Ross Chisholm, 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 Renaldo Bothma, 21 Jono Kitto, 22 James Lang, 23 Henry Cheeseman

Referee: Matthew Carley
Assistant Referees: Matthew O’Grady and Tim Wigglesworth.
TMO: Keith Lewis

Sunday, January 7

Newcastle Falcons v Exeter Chiefs
(Kingston Park - Kick-off: 15.00, 15.00 GMT)

Newcastle Falcons have won their last five matches in all competitions but have not won six in a row since they returned to the top flight in 2013/14. The Falcons record at Kingston Park in Premiership Rugby this season is won three lost three.

Exeter Chiefs have won their last seven Premiership Rugby matches since tripping up 13-20 at Leicester in round 5. Both of Chiefs defeats in the tournament this season have been on the road – the other being at Gloucester in round 1.

The two clubs have met on 13 previous occasions in Premiership Rugby with Newcastle’s only previous win being 29-24 at Kingston Park in October 2014.

Teams:

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

Exeter Chiefs: 15 Lachie Turner, 14 James Short, 13 Ian Whitten, 12 Sam Hill, 11 Olly Woodburn, 10 Gareth Steenson, 9 Nic White, 8 Sam Simmonds, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Dave Ewers, 5 Ollie Atkins, 4 Mitch Lees, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Jack Yeandle (captain), 1 Alec Hepburn
Replacements: 16 Elvis Taione, 17 Carl Rimmer, 18 Greg Holmes, 19 Toby Salmon, 20 Thomas Waldrom, 21 Will Chudley, 22 Henry Slade, 23 Phil Dollman

Referee: Andrew Jackson
Assistant Referees: Hamish Smales and John Meredith.
TMO: Stuart Terheege

Wasps v Saracens
(Ricoh Arena - Kick-off: 15.00, 15.00 GMT)

Wasps only defeat in their last eight first-team matches was on a visit to La Rochelle in round 3 of the European Champions Cup. Wasps have won their last three fixtures at the Ricoh Arena in Premiership Rugby since Bath beat them there on 1 October.

Saracens have won their last two Premiership Rugby matches, at Leicester and at home to Worcester, with the 46-31 victory against the Warriors bringing their first try bonus point since October.

Saracens have lost just two of their last 12 encounters with Wasps in Premiership Rugby: 23-64 at Allianz Park in February 2016 and 15-35 on their most recent visit to Coventry in May.

Teams:

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

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

Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant Referees: Adam Leal & Greg Macdonald.
TMO: Sean Davey.

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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