Premiership Preview: Saturday, Sunday

- Four games take place in the Premiership on Saturday, with Wasps and Leicester Tigers closing out the weekend’s action on Sunday at Ricoh Arena. Saturday Exeter Chiefs v Sale Sharks Jack Nowell is one of seven changes the Chiefs have made to their winning formula from that which took to the field against Wasps last time out. He comes in on the right wing in place of Ian Whitten, while Joe Simmonds and Jack Maunder both get their first starts of the season at half-back. Up front, there is a new-look front-row made up of Ben Moon, Luke Cowan-Dickie and Harry Williams, while Jonny Hill is also added with Sam Skinner sidelined with an ankle injury. With Jack Yeandle and Gareth Steenson named among the replacements – alongside Academy youngster Sam Maunder, who gets his first-ever first-team call-up – Don Armand skippers the side from the back-row. Sale Sharks make two changes to their starting fifteen for their Premiership round three game against Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park on Saturday. Cameron Neild makes his first start at hooker in the Gallagher Premiership since Round 2 of last years campaign, whilst Tom Curry returns from injury to replace his brother at openside flanker. Form: Last season's runners-up Exeter have started the new Premiership Rugby season as if they've got a point to prove, with back-to-back bonus-point victories putting them top of the table. Their recent form in the competition is exceptional – in fact Rob Baxter's men have not been defeated in a Premiership Rugby regular-season fixture since they visited Wasps on 18 February. Sandy Park has also become something of a fortress, with the Chiefs' only defeat at the venue in the competition since October 2016 was by the narrowest of margins to Worcester last February. Sale have only once recorded a victory in Exeter but that was a convincing 55-12 triumph back in April 2014 – still the only time the Chiefs have conceded 50 points at Sandy Park. The teams: Exeter: 15 Phil Dollman, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Ollie Devoto, 11 Santiago Cordero, 10 Joe Simmonds, 9 Jack Maunder, 8 Sam Simmonds, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Don Armand (c), 5 Jonny Hill, 4 Ollie Atkins, 3 Harry Williams, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 1 Ben Moon Replacements: 16 Jack Yeandle, 17 Alec Hepburn, 18 Tomas Francis, 19 Toby Salmon, 20 Sean Lonsdale, 21 Sam Maunder, 22 Gareth Steenson, 23 Alex Cuthbert Sale Sharks: 15 Byron McGuigan, 14 Denny Solomona, 13 Sam James, 12 Mark Jennings, 11 Marland Yarde, 10 AJ MacGinty, 9 Will Cliff, 1 Ross Harrison, 2 Cameron Neild, 3 WillGriff John, 4 Bryn Evans, 5 James Phillips, 6 Jono Ross (c), 7 Tom Curry, 8 Josh Beaumont Replacements: 16 Rob Webber, 17 Alexandru Tarus, 18 Joe Jones, 19 Josh Strauss, 20 Ben Curry, 21 Gus Warr, 22 Luke James, 23 Paolo Odogwu Date: Saturday, September 15 Venue: Sandy Park Kick-off: 15:00 local (14:00 GMT) Referee: Karl Dickson Assistant referees: Paul Dix, Philip Watters Television match official: Stuart Terheege Harlequins v Bath Head of Rugby Paul Gustard has named his squad for Harlequins' home fixture against Bath in the Premiership on Saturday afternoon. The backs are unchanged from the starting XV that travelled to Northampton last week while Luke Wallace and Dino Lamb return in the forwards. Joe Marler, who was a late withdrawal from the Northampton match with a dead leg, joins the returning Dave Ward among Quins' Game Changers. Harlequins enjoyed an excellent start to the season at The Stoop with a 51-23 victory over Sale but were disappointed to lose at Northampton 25-18 last Friday night. Bath have made three changes to the side that took on Gloucester last weekend, with Tom Ellis, Luke Charteris and Elliott Stooke coming into the starting line-up. Stooke, a try scorer in last weekend's 31-31 draw against Gloucester is joined in the second row by Charteris, who captains the side travelling to Twickenham Stoop. In an unchanged front row, Nathan Catt is joined by Henry Thomas and Tom Dunn, who scored twice in the West Country derby. In the back row, Tom Ellis starts at blindside flanker having made his 50th appearance for Bath Rugby last week, with Sam Underhill at openside and Zach Mercer switching to number eight to complete the pack. Max Green and Freddie Burns feature in an unchanged half-back pairing, with Green making his second Gallagher Premiership start for the Blue, Black and White. Joe Cokanasiga and Semesa Rokoduguni occupy the left and right wing respectively, both impressing last week against the Cherry and Whites. Jamie Roberts remains at inside centre, with Jackson Willison outside him in the number 13 shirt. Tom Homer completes the backline at full-back. Form: The Paul Gustard reign at the Twickenham Stoop got off to a perfect start when Harlequins beat Sale Sharks on the opening weekend but a defeat away to Northampton Saints in round two proved that nothing comes easy in Premiership Rugby. Gustard will be keen to continue improving Quins' home record when Sale Sharks come to town – live on BT Sport – on Saturday, with only two home victories in the competition at the Twickenham Stoop in 2018 to their name. Bath Rugby are without a win in the opening two rounds of Premiership Rugby – although they did draw 31-31 with Gloucester having been 21 points down, last time out – and have not been winless in the opening three rounds since the 2005-06 season. However, with only one away win in the competition since January and the last five meetings between the two clubs being won by the home side on the day, Bath will need to buck a recent trend to leave London victorious. The teams: Harlequins: 15 Aaron Morris, 14 Nathan Earle, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Charlie Walker, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Danny Care, 8 James Chisholm, 7 Chris Robshaw (c), 6 Luke Wallace, 5 Dino Lamb, 4 Matt Symons, 3 Will Collier, 2 Elia Elia, 1 Mark Lambert Replacements: 16 Dave Ward, 17 Joe Marler, 18 Phil Swainston, 19 Stan South, 20 Renaldo Bothma, 21 Charlie Mulchrone, 22 James Lang, 23 Paul Lasike Bath: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Jackson Willison, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Joe Cokanasiga, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Max Green, 8 Zach Mercer, 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Tom Ellis, 5 Luke Charteris (c), 4 Elliott Stooke, 3 Henry Thomas, 2 Tom Dunn, 1 Nathan Catt Replacements: 16 Jack Walker, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Anthony Perenise, 19 Charlie Ewels, 20 Taulupe Faletau, 21 Chris Cook, 22 Rhys Priestland, 23 Aled Brew Date: Saturday, September 15 Venue: Twickenham Stoop Kick-off: 15:00 local (14:00 GMT) Referee: Matthew Carley Assistant referees: Roy Maybank, Anthony Woodthorpe Television match official: David Rose Northampton Saints v Saracens Taqele Naiyaravoro will pull on a Black, Green and Gold jersey for the very first time on Saturday as Northampton Saints welcome Saracens to Franklin's Gardens in the Premiership. Director of rugby Chris Boyd has made just three changes to the matchday 23 that saw off Harlequins 25-18 last Friday evening to notch up their first win of the new league season. Naiyaravoro comes into the first-team squad to make his Club debut on the wing after arriving from the Sydney-based Waratahs two weeks ago, and joins Ahsee Tuala and Tom Collins – Northampton's top two metre makers so far this season – in the back three. Centres Luther Burrell and Piers Francis continue in the midfield, while there is also a familiar combination in the half-backs as Dan Biggar – who notched up 17 points last time out – and Cobus Reinach are selected together again. England skipper Dylan Hartley comes into the starting XV for the first time this term after scoring the decisive try against Harlequins, and will co-captain the side alongside front-row partner Alex Waller. But there is another change in Saints' front row as England Under-20 international Ehren Painter is handed his first ever Northampton start at tighthead prop, with Ben Franks instead switching to the bench. Last weekend's man-of-the-match David Ribbans and Courtney Lawes make up Northampton's engine room, while James Haskell, Heinrich Brüssow and Teimana Harrison complete the line-up in the back row. And Mikey Haywood returns to the matchday squad for the first time this season to take his place amongst the replacements, and he will hope to make an impact in the second half alongside the likes of Api Ratuniyarawa, Jamie Gibson, Andy Symons and Harry Mako Vunipola will make his 100th Premiership appearance when Saracens take on Northampton Saints at Franklin's Gardens on Saturday. The loosehead prop is selected from the outset for the third game running with brother Billy raring to go at Number 8 following his return to action last weekend. The 25-year-old came off the bench to score, as did Liam Williams who grabbed a 25-minute hat-trick. David Strettle has recovered from a head knock to join the Welshman in the back three while Nick Tompkins and Will Skelton also come into the side. George Kruis (ankle) is back on bench but there is no place in the 23 for Jackson Wray after his collision with George Smith last weekend. Form: Northampton Saints beat Saracens in one of the most memorable Premiership Rugby Finals of all-time back in 2014 and if Saturday's clash provides half that drama, then the fans are in for a treat. Locked at 14-14 after 80 minutes, Charlie Hodgson's two extra-time penalties to Stephen Myler's one looked to have given Saracens the title until Alex Waller rumbled over the whitewash with 100 minutes played to hand Saints an incredible victory. However, Mark McCall's men have won their last seven encounters with Northampton in all competitions and have won on their last five visits to Franklin's Gardens, including the victory over Exeter Chiefs in the final of the Anglo-Welsh Cup in 2015. Saracens also bring a lengthy unbeaten streak to the table – having not been beaten in Premiership Rugby since they visited Sandy Park to face Exeter Chiefs in early March. But they did receive some bad news this week as McCall confirmed that centre Duncan Taylor is out until next June with a double cruciate ligament rupture sustained in an A-team game earlier this month. The teams: Northampton Saints: 15 Ahsee Tuala, 14 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 13 Luther Burrell, 12 Piers Francis, 11 Tom Collins, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Teimana Harrison, 7 Heinrich Brüssow, 6 James Haskell, 5 Courtney Lawes, 4 David Ribbans, 3 Ehren Painter, 2 Dylan Hartley, 1 Alex Waller Replacements: 16 Mike Haywood, 17 Francois Van Wyk, 18 Ben Franks, 19 Api Ratuniyarawa, 20 Jamie Gibson, 21 Alex Mitchell, 22 Andrew Symons, 23 Harry Mallinder Saracens: 15 Liam Williams, 14 David Strettle, 13 Nick Tompkins, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 Alex Lewington, 10 Alex Goode, 9 Ben Spencer, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Mike Rhodes, 6 Nick Isiekwe, 5 Will Skelton, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Jamie George, 1 Mako Vunipola Replacements: 16 Christopher Tolofua, 17 Richard Barrington, 18 Titi Lamositele, 19 George Kruis, 20 Ben Earl, 21 Richard Wigglesworth, 22 Alex Lozowski, 23 Sean Maitland Date: Saturday, September 15 Venue: Franklin’s Gardens Kick-off: 15:00 local (14:00 GMT) Referee: JP Doyle Assistant referees: Christophe Ridley, Peter Allan Television match official: Keith Lewis Worcester Warriors v Newcastle Warriors welcome Francois Hougaard back to the starting line-up for Saturday's Premiership clash with Newcastle Falcons at Sixways. The scrum-half recovers from a rib knock to start alongside Duncan Weir as Warriors go in search of their first win of the season. Elsewhere, Simon Kerrod starts in the front row in place of the injured Nick Schonert (concussion), while Joe Taufete'e is handed his first start of the season at hooker in place of Niall Annett (illness). Anton Bresler (groin) and Jack Singleton (neck) have recovered from injury and are named among the replacements for the clash. Chris Pennell, Bryce Heem and Josh Adams form a potent back three while Francois Venter and Ryan Mills continue their midfield partnership. Kerrod and Taufete'e join Callum Black in the front row while Pierce Phillips and Darren Barry keep their spots in the second row. Skipper GJ van Velze leads from the back row next to Sam Lewis and Marco Mama. Gareth Milasinovich is added to the replacements off the back of an impressive showing for Worcester Cavaliers on Monday night in their win over Leicester Tigers. Meanwhile, Johnny Williams makes his first Gallagher Premiership appearance for Newcastle Falcons. The former London Irish centre shone for the Falcons during pre-season, scoring a try in the 42-17 away victory over European and Pro 14 champions Leinster, and comes into the side in place of Josh Matavesi following the injury he picked up at Leicester Tigers last weekend. Adam Radwan replaces the injured Vereniki Goneva on the right wing, Newcastle otherwise unchanged from the side which scored five tries last time out at Welford Road. Form: The only sides to have lost both their opening two matches square off at Sixways as 11th-placed Worcester Warriors and bottom side Newcastle Falcons look to start climbing the table. The Warriors have lost their last three Gallagher Premiership Rugby matches, while their only victory in the first three rounds of the tournament in any season since 2012 was 13-12 at home to Northampton in 2015. Worcester's summer signing Cornell du Preez remains in hospital after sustaining a nasty injury to his throat in the game against Wasps earlier this month, while prop Craig Mitchell has joined the Falcons on a three-month deal this week. Newcastle have slipped to four straight Premiership Rugby defeats but have not lost five in succession in the tournament since season 2015/16. However, they will have to overturn a disappointing record at Sixways that has seen them record just a solitary victory at the venue since 2004 – which came in October 2013. Newcastle Falcons: 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Adam Radwan, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Johnny Williams, 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Toby Flood, 9 Sonatane Takulua, 8 Callum Chick, 7 Will Welch (c), 6 Mark Wilson, 5 Will Witty, 4 Calum Green, 3 Logovi'i Mulipola, 2 George McGuigan, 1 Sami Mavinga, Replacements: 16 Santiago Socino, 17 Adam Brocklebank, 18 Jack Payne, 19 Tevita Cavubati, 20 Gary Graham, 21 Sam Stuart, 22 Joel Hodgson, 23 Tom Penny Worcester Warriors: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Bryce Heem, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Ryan Mill, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Duncan Weir, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 GJ van Velze (c), 7 Sam Lewis, 6 Marco Mama, 5 Darren Barry, 4 Pierce Phillips, 3 Simon Kerrod, 2 Joe Taufete’e, 1 Callum Black Replacements: 16 Jack Singleton, 17 Ryan Bower, 18 Gareth Milasinovich, 19 Anton Bresler, 20 Alafoti Faosiliva, 21 Michael Heaney, 22 Jono Lance, 23 Ashley Beck Date: Saturday, September 15 Venue: Sixways Kick-off: 15:00 local (14:00 GMT) Referee: Wayne Barnes Assistant referees: Jack Makepeace, Steve Lee Television match official: Trevor Fisher Sunday Wasps v Leicester Tigers Director of rugby Dai Young hands a Wasps debut to Michael Le Bourgeois, while Lima Sopoaga is named to start for the first time, as his club play Leicester Tigers at the Ricoh Arena on Sunday. There are five changes to the starting 15 from Saturday's game against Exeter Chiefs. Wasps debutant Le Bourgeois replaces the injured Gaby Lovobalavu, to join Juan De Jongh in the centres. Sopoaga gets a first start for Wasps, moving from the bench to starting at 10, alongside half back-partner Dan Robson. James Gaskell swaps roles with Will Rowlands to start in the second row beside captain Joe Launchbury. Ashley Johnson replaces the injured Brad Shields at six, while Nizaam Carr returns from injury to replace Joe Atkinson, who is rested after putting in a couple of strong shifts. Nathan Hughes rounds out the back row at number eight. The front row of Ben Harris, Tommy Taylor and Kieran Brookes and the back three of Christian Wade, Josh Bassett and Elliot Daly remain unchanged from last week. New signing Ben Morris could make his Wasps bow from amongst the replacements and is joined on an impactful bench by Tom Cruse, Zurabi Zhvania, Will Stuart, Rowlands, Joe Simpson, Billy Searle and Rob Miller. Meanwhile, international duo Dan Cole and Manu Tuilagi hit Leicester Tigers landmarks in Sunday's Premiership Round 3 fixture against Wasps. Tighthead prop Cole makes his 200th appearance for the club and Tuilagi is in line for his 100th starting appearance in Tigers colours. Cole, with 82 Test caps for England to his name as well as two tours with the British & Irish Lions, made his Tigers debut against Bath in October 2007. Tuilagi, winner of the Citizen Try of the Week poll for his score against Newcastle Falcons last weekend, made his first-team debut in 2008. Guy Thompson and Gareth Owen come into the team this week and interim head coach Geordan Murphy includes England Under-20s forwards Joe Heyes and Sam Lewis among 12 Tigers academy graduates in the matchday squad. Form: Perhaps the most memorable clash between the side in recent years was their Premiership Rugby semi-final on 20 May 2017 when Josh Bassett's 78th-minute try in the corner sent Wasps to the final for the first time in nine years. The Tigers came so close that day but their only previous win at the Ricoh Arena was in fact on their first visit in May 2015. However, Leicester's 16-15 victory at Welford Road in March at least ended a run of five successive defeats to Wasps in Premiership Rugby and their only defeat away from home in the competition since February was at Exeter on the opening weekend Wasps were defeated 42-31 by Exeter last weekend, in a game that also saw back-rower Brad Shields sustain a broken cheekbone – an injury that will sideline him for three to eight weeks. The teams: Wasps: 15 Elliot Daly, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Juan De Jongh, 12 Michael Le Bourgeois, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 Nizaam Carr, 6 Ashley Johnson, 5 James Gaskell, 4 Joe Launchbury (c), 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Tommy Taylor, 1 Ben Harris Replacements: 16 Tom Cruse, 17 Zurabi Zhvania, 18 Will Stuart, 19 Will Rowlands, 20 Ben Morris, 21 Joe Simpson, 22 Billy Searle, 23 Rob Miller Leicester Tigers: 15 Telusa Veainu, 14 Adam Thompstone, 13 Manu Tuilag, 12 Gareth Owen, 11 Jonny May, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Young, 8 Sione Kalamafoni, 7 Guy Thompson, 6 David Denton, 4 Mike Williams, 5 Will Spencer, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tom Youngs (c), 1 Greg Bateman Replacements: 16 Jimmy Stevens, 17 David Feao, 18 Joe Heyes, 19 Harry Wells, 20 Sam Lewis, 21 Ben White, 22 Tom Hardwick, 23 Jordan Olowofela Date: Sunday, September 16 Venue: Ricoh Arena Kick-off: 15:00 local (14:00 GMT) Referee: Ian Tempest Assistant referees: Hamish Smales, Jonathan Healy Television match official: Malcolm Sinclair The post Premiership Preview: Saturday, Sunday appeared first on Planet Rugby.


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