First weekend of Aviva Premiership fixtures announced

Premiership rugby today released the fixture list for the 2017/18 season. The first weekend is set to be a tantalising one with several big games.

Gloucester vs Exeter (Friday 1st September)

Newcastle vs Worcester (Friday 1st September)

Wasps vs Sale Sharks (Saturday 2nd September)

Leicester Tigers vs Bath (Sunday 3rd September)

Saracens vs Northampton (Saturday 2nd September)

Harlequins vs London Irish (Saturday 2nd September)

The Leicester Tigers vs Bath match is arguably the biggest fixture of the weekend with particular interest being paid to the fly-half’s of both sides. Freddie Burns moved to Bath at the end of last season from Leicester, with George Ford going in the opposite direction.

Aviva Premiership round 18 preview

After a two week siesta the Aviva premiership is back with some blockbuster matches!

This weekend’s action kicks off with a trip to Ashton Gate to see strugglers Bristol take on Gloucester.

Bristol will be looking to help their chances of staying up by beating a Gloucester side which is struggling for consistency this season.

Henry Trinder makes his first start for Gloucester in 11 months due to injury. Bristol however are without Varndell (toe) and Siale Piutau (knee).

Bristol: Woodward; Wallace, Hurrell, Pisi, Lemi; Searle, Mathewson; Bevington, Jones, Cortes, Phillips, Sorenson, Jeffries, Lam, Eadie.

Replacements: Crumpton, O’Connell, Ford-Robinson, Crane, Fenton-Wells, Williams, Tovey, Arscott.

Gloucester: Marshall; May, Trinder, Symons, Halaifonua; Burns, Heinz (capt); McAllister, Hibbard, Hohneck; Savage, Thrush; Kalamafoni, Rowan, Morgan.

Replacements: Matu’u, Thomas, Doran-Jones, Denton, Ludlow, Braley, Twelvetrees, Sharples.

Referee: J P Doyle

Prediction: Gloucester win

 

Saturday features three matches including the East Midlands Derby.

Northampton host Leicester Tigers in a match that never disappoints.

Both teams have their internationals back with Hartley, Lawes, Wood, Picamoles, North returning for the Saints. Tigers make 11 changes to their starting XV which sees the return of internationals Ben Youngs and Dan Cole.

Leicester: Veainu; Thompstone, Tait, Mermoz, Pietersen; Burns, B Youngs; Genge, T Youngs (capt), Cole, Barrow, Kitchener, Fitzgerald, O’Connor, Hamilton.

Replacements: McGuigan, Rizzo, Cilliers, M Williams, McCaffrey, White, O Williams, Roberts.

Northampton: Tuala; Foden, Tuitavake, Mallinder, North; Myler, Groom; Waller, Hartley, Brookes, Lawes, Day, Wood (capt), Clark, Picamoles.

Replacements: Haywood, Waller, Hill, Gibson, Harrison, Dickson Burrell, Pisi.

Referee: Greg Garner Kick off- 15:00

Prediction: Tigers win

The second game on Saturday is between Exeter and Sale.

Exeter are continuing their fight for a home semi-final against tenth placed Sharks.

Exeter see the return of Jack Nowell from the Six Nations and he comes in for James Short who drops to the bench.

Solomona continues on the wing for the Sharks to add flare to their backs.

Exeter: Dollman; Nowell, Whitten, Devoto, Woodburn; Slade, Townsend; Moon, Cowan-Dickie, Williams, Lees, Parling, Horstmann, Armand (capt), Waldrom.

Replacements: Yeandle, Rimmer, Francis, J Hill, S Simmonds, Maunder, J Simmonds, Short.

Sale: Haley; Solomona, James, Jennings, McGuigan; MacGinty, Phillips; Harrison, Webber, Aulika, Evans, Ostrikov, Neild, T Curry, Beamont (capt).

Replacements: B Curry, Flynn, Longbottom, Nott, Pearce, Stringer, Bedlow, Charnley.

Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys       Kick off: 15:00

Prediction: Exeter Win

The final game on Saturday is Harlequins vs Newcastle.

This clash of Seventh plays Ninth may seem like one to avoid for a Neutral but a loss for Quins sees their play-off hopes dwindle whilst Newcastle who are having their best season for a while will be looking to secure a mid-table finish.

Quins see the return of internationals Joe Marler, Danny Care, Tim Visser and Mike Brown in a much needed boost.

Newcastle have made one change bringing in Scott Lawson at hooker as they look for their first win at the stoop for 17 years.

Harlequins: Brown; Yarde, Marchant, Roberts, Visser; Evans, Care; Marler, Buchanan, Collier, Merrick, Horwill, Robshaw, Ward (capt), Luamanu.

Replacements: Gray, Lambert, Sinckler, Matthews, Clifford, Mulchrone, Swiel, Alofa.

Newcastle: Tait; Goneva, Waldouck, Socino, Sinoti; Hodgson, Takulua; Vickers, Lawson, Welsh, Green, Wilson, Chick, Welch (capt.), Latu.

Replacements: Sowrey, Harris, Wilson, Olmstead, Hogg, Young, Delany, Harris.

Referee: Tom Foley    Kick off: 15:00

Prediction: Harlequins win

Sunday sees two huge fixtures kicking off with Wasps vs Worcester.

Worcester will be looking to capitalise on Bristol’s loss on Friday Night to help their chances of staying up. Wasps will be looking to all but secure their spot in the play offs with a bonus point win.

Wasps: Beale; Wade, Leiua, Gopperth, Le Roux; Cipriani, Robson; McIntyre, Johnson (capt), Moore, Rowlands, Myall, Haskell, Young, Rieder.

Replacements: Cruse, Mullan, Cooper-Woolley, Symons, Thompson, Simpson, Macken, Bassett.

Worcester: Pennell; Heem, Olivier, Willison, Adams; Mills, Hougaard; Rapava Ruskin, Taufete’e, Schonert, O’Callaghan (capt), Spencer, Vui, Lewis, Mama.

Replacements: Bregvadze, Bower, Alo, Dowson, Potgieter, Baldwin, Lamb, Hammond.

Referee: Luke Pearce    Kick off: 14:30

Prediction: Wasps win

The final game of the weekend is Saracens vs Bath.

Saracens will be looking to regain their spot in the top two which was taken by Exeter during the Six Nations period. Bath need a win as they have the Leicester Tigers breathing down their necks.

Both sides receive massive boosts with their internationals returning.

Saracens: Goode; Ashton, Bosch, Barritt, Maitland; Farrell, Wigglesworth; M Vunipola, George, Figallo, Itoje, Hamilton, Rhodes, Wray, B Vunipola.

Replacements: Brits, Lamositele, Koch, Brown, Conlon, H Taylor, Lozowski, D Taylor.

Bath: Watson; Rokoduguni, Joseph, Tapuai, Banahan; Ford, Fotuali’i; Catt, Batty, Lahiff, Ewels, Caharteris, Ellis, Louw, Faletau.

Replacements: Brooker, Obano, Palmer-Newport, Stooke, Grant, Cook, Hastings, Wilson.

Referee: Wayne Barnes

Prediction: Saracens win

 

Anglo Welsh Cup preview: Exeter vs Leicester

Venue: Twickenham Stoop Date: Sunday, 19 March Kick-off: 15:00 GMT

The time has come for the Anglo Welsh cup final and it is an all English affair.

Leicester Tigers come off the back of a convincing win versus Saracens, their first ever at Allianz park, and make two changes. Mike Williams comes in at Flanker whilst Peter Betham replaces J P Pieterson on the wing. Tigers have gone for experience as they search for their first silverware since 2013 with the likes of Mathew Tait and Freddie Burns leading the attack and Graham Kitchener, who was in the last Tigers team to win the Anglo Welsh cup, leading the lineout. Meanwhile they make four changes to the bench, bringing in extra experience with Tom Youngs, Dom Barrow, Luke Hamilton and Matt Smith being added.

Chiefs bring in props Moray Low and Greg Holmes while behind Dave Ewers gets the nod over Tom Johnson in the back-row. Jack Maunder returns at scrum-half  while Max Bodilly’s switch from wing to centre means there is also a starting spot for recently crowned Premiership Player of the Month, James Short, on the wing.

Exeter: Turner; Jess, Bodilly, S Hill, Short; J Simmonds, Maunder; Low, Malton, Holmes, Atkins, Welch, Ewers, Salvi (capt), Simmonds.

Replacements: Taione, Keast, Owlett, Skinner, Johnson, Thomas, Hooley, Hendrickson.

Leicester: Worth; Betham, Tait (capt), Roberts, Brady; Burns, Kitto; Genge, McGuigan, Balmain, Wells, Kitchener, Williams, Thacker, McCaffrey.

Replacements: Youngs, Rizzo, Bateman, Barrow, Hamilton, White, Williams, Smith.

Referee- Thomas Foley

Prediction- Tigers Win

 

 

 

 

 

Anglo Welsh cup Semi-final Preview Exeter vs Harlequins

The second semi final of the weekend is between Exeter Chiefs and Harlequins. Exeter come off the back of a bonus point win over the Leicester Tigers whilst Quins visit after a massive comeback vs Gloucester to win 27-30.

Both teams have gone for a mix of experienced and academy players. Julian Salvi captains the Chiefs on his return from injury to line up alongside Ben Moon and Damian Welch in the Chiefs pack. Whilst their backline features Ollie Devoto at outside centre.

Harlequins have gone for an experienced back three with Chisholm, Yarde and Alofa. And Adam Jones starts at Tighthead prop to make his 31st appearance.

Exeter: Turner; Jess, Devoto, S Hill, Bodilly; J Simmonds, Townsend; Moon, Malton, Williams, Atkins, Welch, White, Salvi (capt), S Simmonds.

Replacements: Taione, Keast, Low, J Hill, Johnson, Thomas, Hooley, Hendrickson.

Harlequins: Chisholm; Yarde, Marchant, Hopper, Alofa; Jackson, Mulchrone; Lambert, Gray, A Jones, Merrick, Matthews, Naoupu, Ward (capt), Luamanu.

Replacements: Buchanan, Evans, Shields, South, Hodson, L Jones, Lang, Walker.

Referee: Dan Jones

Prediction: Exeter win