Preview: Premiership, Round 14
THE RETURN OF THE MACK: Premiership Rugby is back with a bang this weekend with the first of four consecutive rounds of League action kicking off at the Recreation Ground where Northampton Saints are the visitors.
Just six points separate the teams from third to seventh as the race for a place in the Premiership Rugby semi-finals hots up.
While Bath Rugby kick us off this weekend we are treated to four matches on Saturday at Sandy Park – the home of the leaders and reigning champions – Kingsholm, Allianz Park and the Madejski Stadium.
Round 14 ends with one of the game’s greatest rivalries as Wasps arrive at the Twickenham Stoop for an early kickoff.
Friday. February 9
Bath Rugby v Northampton Saints
(Recreation Ground, 19.45, 19.45 GMT)
Bath Rugby have won their last three matches in all competitions but in Aviva Premiership Rugby their
victory at Worcester in round 13 ended a three-game losing run in the competition. Bath have a won three lost three records at home in Premiership Rugby this season.
Northampton Saints 22-19 win at home to Gloucester in round 13 ended a seven-game losing run in the tournament. The Saints have won just once away from home in Premiership Rugby since March, 40-25 at London Irish in round 4.
Bath’s only two victories over The Saints since 2011 in Premiership Rugby both came last season. The Saints have lost just once in their last six visits to the Recreation Ground.
Bath: 15 James Wilson, 14 Matt Banahan, 13 Will Hurrell, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Aled Brew, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Kahn Fotuali’i, 8 James Phillips, 7 Paul Grant, 6 Matt Garvey (captain), 5 Charlie Ewels, 4 Elliott Stooke, 3 Max Lahiff, 2 Tom Dunn, 1 Lucas Noguera
Replacements: 16 Ross Batty, 17 Nick Auterac, 18 Henry Thomas, 19 Luke Charteris, 20 Josh Bayliss, 21 Chris Cook, 22 Josh Lewis, 23 Darren Atkins
Northampton: 15 Ahsee Tuala, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 Rob Horne, 12 Tom Stephenson, 11 Ben Foden, 10 Piers Francis, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Teimana Harrison, 7 Jamie Gibson, 6 Tom Wood, 5 Christian Day (captain), 4 Api Ratuniyarawa, 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Mikey Haywood, 1 Campese Ma’afu
Replacements: 16 Reece Marshall, 17 Francois van Wyk, 18 Jamal Ford-Robinson, 19 David Ribbans, 20 Ben Nutley, 21 Nic Groom, 22 Harry Mallinder, 23 Nafi Tuitavake
Referee: Tom Foley
Assistant referees: Adam Leal, Peter Allan
TMO: Stuart Terheege
Saturday, February 10
Exeter Chiefs v Worcester Warriors
(Sandy Park, 14.00, 14.00 GMT)
Exeter Chiefs seven-game winning run in Premiership Rugby ended at Newcastle in round 13.
The Chiefs last ten regular season Premiership Rugby games at Sandy Park have all ended with maximum points.
Worcester Warriors only win in the last four rounds of Premiership Rugby was 23-8 at home to London Irish on 22 December. The Warriors only away win in Premiership Rugby since March 2016 was at Leicester in November.
Chiefs have won all eleven previous matches they have played
against the Warriors in Premiership Rugby, although Worcester did win 31-21 at Sixways in the Anglo-Welsh Cup on 27 January.
Worcester’s most recent victory on Exeter’s soil came on
what was to be their final visit to the County Ground in Division One in March 2004.
Exeter Chiefs: 15 Lachie Turner, 14 Santiago Cordero, 13 Ian Whitten, 12 Sam Hill, 11 Olly Woodburn, 10 Gareth Steenson (captain), 9 Nic White, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Don Armand, 6 Dave Ewers, 5 Jonny Hill, 4 Mitch Lees, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 1 Ben Moon.
Replacements: 16 Shaun Malton, 17 Moray Low, 18 Marcus Street, 19 Toby Salmon, 20 Matt Kvesic, 21 Will Chudley, 22 Joe Simmonds, 23 Ollie Devoto.
Worcester Warriors: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Bryce Heem, 13 Jackson Willison, 12 Ryan Mills, 11 Dean Hammond, 10 Jamie Shillcock, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 GJ van Velze, 7 Sam Lewis, 6 Alafoti Faosiliva, 5 Will Spencer, 4 Donncha O’Callaghan (c), 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Jack Singleton, 1 Ethan Waller.
Replacements: 16 Kurt Haupt, 17 Ryan Bower, 18 Gareth Milasinovich, 19 Anton Bresler, 20 Darren Barry, 21 Matt Cox, 22 Luke Baldwin, 23 Tom Howe.
Referee: Andrew Jackson
Assistant referees: Paul Burton, Philip Watters
TMO: David Rose
Gloucester Rugby v Leicester Tigers
(Kingsholm, 14.30, 14.30 GMT)
Gloucester Rugby’ last five matches in Premiership Rugby have all been won by the home side on the day. Gloucester are one of only two sides to have a 100 percent winning record at home this season in Premiership Rugby (the other being Exeter).
Leicester Tigers four-game losing run in Premiership Rugby ended with their victory at home to London Irish in round 13. The Tigers have not won away from home in any competition since their visit to Newcastle in round 7 of Premiership Rugby.
Leicester’s only defeat in their last eleven fixtures with Gloucester in all tournaments was at Kingsholm
in Premiership Rugby in October 2014.
Gloucester: 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Tom Marshall, 13 Henry Trinder, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 Ollie Thorley, 10 Billy Burns, 9 Willi Heinz (captain), 8 Ruan Ackermann, 7 Lewis Ludlow, 6 Jake Polledri, 5 Mariano Galarza; 4 Tom Savage, 3 John Afoa; 2 James Hanson, 1 Josh Hohneck.
Replacements: 16 Motu Matu’u, 17 Cameron Orr, 18 Fraser Balmain, 19 Ed Slater, 20 Freddie Clarke, 21 Ben Vellacott, 22 Mark Atkinson, 23 Matt Scott.
Leicester: 15 Telusa Veainu, 14 Nick Malouf, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Adam Thompstone, 10 Joe Ford, 9 Sam Harrison, 8 Sione Kalamafoni, 7 Brendon O’Connor, 6 Mike Williams, 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 Mike Fitzgerald, 3 Logovi’i Mulipola, 2 Tom Youngs (captain), 1 Greg Bateman.
Replacements: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Kyle Traynor, 18 Pat Cilliers, 19 Harry Wells, 20 Luke Hamilton, 21 Harry Simmons, 22 Gareth Owen, 23 Mathew Tait.
Referee: John-Paul Doyle
Assistant referees: Anthony Woodthorpe, Paul Dix
TMO: Claire Hodnett
Saracens v Newcastle Falcons
(Allianz Park, 14.0. 14.30 GMT)
Saracens have won their last three Premiership Rugby matches since their 19-20 defeat to Harlequins at Twickenham Stoop on 3 December.
Saracens have lost only at home in Premiership Rugby since March 2016: 18-20 to Exeter Chiefs at Allianz Park at the end of November.
Newcastle Falcons only loss in their last ten first team fixtures was 8-21 at Bath in round 3 of the Anglo-Welsh Cup. The Falcons have won their last four Premiership Rugby matches but have not won five in a row in the competition since season 2008/09.
Saracens have won their last eighteen matches against Newcastle in all tournaments since the Falcons 13-9 victory at Kingston Park in Premiership Rugby in February 2009 whilst their most recent win on Saracens soil came at Vicarage Road on 30 December 2007.
Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Liam Williams, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Brad Barritt (captain), 11 Chris Wyles, 10 Alex Lozowski, 9 Ben Spencer, 8 Jackson Wray, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Calum Clark, 5 Nick Isiekwe, 4 Will Skelton, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Christopher Tolofua, 1 Richard Barrington.
Replacements: 16 Scott Spurling, 17 Hayden Thompson-Stringer, 18 Juan Figallo, 19 Ben Earl, 20 Sione Vailanu, 21 Tom Whiteley, 22 Max Malins, 23 Nathan Earle.
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Vereniki Goneva, 13 Tom Penny, 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Joel Hodgson, 9 Michael Young (captain), 8 Ally Hogg, 7 Nili Latu, 6 Ryan Burrows, 5 Will Witty, 4 Calum Green, 3 Scott Wilson, 2 Kyle Cooper, 1 Rob Vickers.
Replacements: 16 Santiago Socino, 17 Sam Lockwood, 18 Trevor Davison, 19 Evan Olmstead, 20 Callum Chick, 21 Sonatane Takulua, 22 Maxime Mermoz, 23 Alex Tait.
Referee: Christophe Ridley
Assistant referees: Simon McConnell, Roy Maybank
TMO: Trevor Fisher
London Irish v Sale Sharks
(Madejski Stadium, 15.00, 15.00 GMT)
London Irish have won their last four matches in all competitions, two in the European Challenge Cup and two in the Anglo-Welsh Cup, however in the Premiership their only victory this season came on the opening round against Harlequins at Twickenham.
Sale Sharks have lost only once in the last five rounds of Premiership Rugby: 16-20 at Gloucester in round 12.
The Sharks only victory on the road in Premiership Rugby since October 2016 was 18-14 at Worcester on 1 December.
Sale have won their last three matches against London Irish since the Exiles 25-23 victory at Madejski Stadium in April 2015.
London Irish: 15 James Marshall, 14 Joe Cokanasiga, 13 Tom Fowlie, 12 Luke McLean, 11 Alex Lewington, 10 Theo Brophy Clews, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Ofisa Treviranus, 7 Max Northcote-Green, 6 Arno Botha, 5 Teofilo Paulo, 4 Franco van der Merwe (captain), 3 Ollie Hoskins, 2 David Paice, 1 Ben Franks.
Replacements: 16 Saia Fainga’a, 17 Harry Elrington, 18 Petrus du Plessis, 19 Sebastian De Chaves, 20 Blair Cowan, 21 Scott Steele, 22 Tommy Bell, 23 Aseli Tikoirotuma.
Sale: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Paolo Odogwu, 13 Will Addison, 12 Luke James, 11 Josh Charnley; 10 Sam James, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Josh Strauss, 7 Ben Curry, 6 Jono Ross (captain), 5 Josh Beaumont, 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 TJ Ioane, 21 Cameron Nield, 22 Will Cliff, 23 Mark Jennings.
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Assistant referees: Jack Makepeace, Nigel Carrick
TMO: Keith Lewis
Sunday, February 11
Harlequins v Wasps
(Twickenham Stoop, 13.00, 13.00GMT)
Harlequins last eight matches in all competitions have all been won by the home side on the day, whilst ‘Quins only home defeat in Premiership Rugby this campaign was to Leicester in round 4.
Wasps six-game winning run in Premiership Rugby ended with their 15-38 home defeat to Saracens in round 13. Wasps have won just once away from home in any competition since November: 31-26 at Bath in round 12 of Premiership Rugby.
The two sides have met on three occasions this season with Harlequins taking the Premiership Rugby encounter at the Ricoh Arena in September but each side winning its respective home game in the European Champions Cup. Wasps only victory at Twickenham Stoop since 2013 was 23-3 in the European Champions Cup in January 2015.
Harlequins: 15 Ross Chisholm, 14 Alofa Alofa, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Dave Lewis, 8 Mat Luamanu, 7 Luke Wallace, 6 James Chisholm, 5 Charlie Matthews, 4 Ben Glynn, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Dave Ward (captain), 1 Lewis Boyce.
Replacements: 16 Joe Gray, 17 Mark Lambert, 18 Will Collier, 19 Stan South, 20 Archie White, 21 Jono Kitto, 22 Ian Prior, 23 Aaron Morris.
Wasps: 15 Willie Le Roux, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Juan De Jongh, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Guy Thompson, 7 Thomas Young, 6 Jack Willis, 5 Kearnan Myall, 4 James Gaskell (captain), 3 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 2 Tom Cruse, 1 Simon McIntyre.
Replacements: 16 Tommy Taylor, 17 Matt Mullan, 18 Marty Moore, 19 Nathan Hughes, 20 Ashley Johnson, 21 Joe Simpson, 22 Jimmy Gopperth, 23 Gaby Lovobalavu.
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant referees: Hamish Smales, Jonathan Healy
TMO: Stuart Terheege