Mike Brown set for 250th Premiership appearance

Date published: December 24 2021 - Planet Rugby

The Premiership continues on Sunday as five matches take place, including the clash between struggling Bristol Bears and leaders Leicester Tigers.

Bristol Bears v Leicester Tigers

Form: Bristol Bears have lost their last two Gallagher Premiership Rugby encounters to Northampton Saints and Gloucester Rugby and have not lost three in succession in the same season since this time last year. The Bears have won just two of their last five matches played at Ashton Gate. Leicester Tigers have won their last fourteen first-team matches since today’s opponents Bristol beat them at Mattioli Woods Welford Road on 5 June. Tigers have won their first nine Gallagher Premiership Rugby matches this season; no club has started a campaign with ten straight victories since Harlequins in 2011-12. Leicester’s most recent away defeat was at Sale on 7 May. Bristol’s only loss in their last six fixtures against Leicester was 18-31 at Welford Road in January 2020. The Tigers have visited Ashton Gate on five previous occasions with their only victory there being 21-16 in November 2016.

Prediction: Leicester by 7

The teams:

Bristol: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Toby Fricker, 13 Semi Radradra, 12 Sam Bedlow, 11 Ioan Lloyd, 10 Callum Sheedy, 9 Harry Randall, 8 Fitz Harding, 7 Sam Jeffries, 6 Steven Luatua (c), 5 Chris Vui, 4 Joe Joyce, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Harry Thacker, 1 Yann Thomas
Replacements: 16 Will Capon, 17 Jake Woolmore, 18 Max Lahiff, 19 John Hawkins, 20 Jake Heenan, 21 Andy Uren, 22 Piers O’Conor, 23 Henry Purdy

Leicester: 15 Freddie Steward, 14 Harry Potter, 13 Matías Moroni, 12 Dan Kelly, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Marco van Staden, 7 Tommy Reffell, 6 George Martin, 5 Eli Snyman, 4 Harry Wells, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Julián Montoya, 1 Ellis Genge (c)
Replacements: 16 Nic Dolly, 17 Nephi Leatigaga, 18 Joe Heyes, 19 Ollie Chessum, 20 Jasper Wiese, 21 Richard Wigglesworth, 22 Bryce Hegarty, 23 Guy Porter

Venue: Ashton Gate
Kick-off: 14:00 GMT
Referee: Tom Foley
Assistant referees: Dean Richards, Jonathan Healy
TMO: Luke Pearce

Newcastle Falcons v Sale Sharks

Form: Newcastle Falcons have won only one of their last four Gallagher Premiership Rugby matches and that was by a solitary point at Exeter on 6 November. The Falcons have been defeated just once at Kingston Park in any competition since April: 20-26 to Harlequins in Premiership Rugby on 19 September. Sale Sharks have won just twice since the opening weekend of Gallagher Premiership Rugby, both at home to Harlequins in Round 5 and Northampton in Round 8. The Sharks are without a win in their last seven away games in Premiership Rugby since their visit to Bath on 14 May. The last five fixtures between the two clubs in Premiership Rugby have all gone the way of home-field advantage whilst Sale’s only victory at Kingston Park since November 2014 was 21-15 in May 2016.

Prediction: Newcastle by 4

The teams:

Newcastle: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Tom Penny, 13 George Wacokecoke, 12 Pete Lucock, 11 Adam Radwan, 10 Brett Connon, 9 Sam Stuart, 8 Callum Chick (c), 7 Connor Collett, 6 Philip van der Walt, 5 Sean Robinson, 4 Greg Peterson, 3 Trevor Davison, 2 George McGuigan, 1 Adam Brocklebank
Replacements: 16 Robbie Smith, 17 Kyle Cooper, 18 Mark Tampin, 19 Gary Graham, 20 Mark Wilson, 21 Cameron Nordli-Kelemeti, 22 Joel Hodgson, 23 Will Haydon-Wood

Sale: 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Tom Roebuck, 13 Robert du Preez, 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11 Marland Yarde, 10 AJ MacGinty, 9 Raffi Quirke, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Sam Dugdale, 6 Jono Ross (c), 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Jean-Luc du Preez, 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Ewan Ashman, 1 Bevan Rodd
Replacements: 16 Curtis Langdon, 17 Ross Harrison, 18 Joe Jones, 19 Matt Postlethwaite, 20 Cameron Neild, 21 Gus Warr, 22 Sam James, 23 Luke James

Venue: Kingston Park
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Referee: Karl Dickson
Assistant referees: Wayne Falla, Hamish Smales
TMO: Andrew Jackson

Saracens v Worcester Warriors

Form: Saracens last three matches in Gallagher Premiership Rugby have been evenly split with a win, a draw, and a loss. The Sarries have lost just once at StoneX Stadium in Premiership Rugby since October 2019: 18-28 to Wasps in September 2020, although since this defeat they have also tallied two draws at the venue (against Bath and London Irish). Worcester Warriors only defeat in their last four Gallagher Premiership Rugby encounters was 5-27 at Bristol in Round 8. The Warriors have not won away from home in any competition since their 40-25 victory over London Irish at the Twickenham Stoop in Premiership Rugby in September 2020, although they did draw 24-all at Newcastle last month. Worcester have won two of their last three fixtures against Saracens in Premiership Rugby, however, the defeat was 5-62 on their most recent visit to StoneX Stadium in January 2020.

Prediction: Saracens by 20

The teams:

Saracens: 15 Max Malins, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Alex Lozowski, 12 Nick Tompkins, 11 Alex Lewington, 10 Alex Goode (cc), 9 Aled Davies, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Ben Earl, 6 Jackson Wray (cc), 5 Nick Isiekwe, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Ethan Lewis, 1 Mako Vunipola
Replacements: 16 Tom Woolstencroft, 17 Richard Barrington, 18 Harvey Beaton, 19 Tim Swinson, 20 Theo McFarland, 21 Ivan van Zyl, 22 Manu Vunipola, 23 Elliot Daly

Worcester: 15 Jamie Shillcock, 14 Alex Hearle, 13 Francois Venter (cc), 12 Ashley Beck, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Fin Smith, 9 Will Chudley, 8 Sione Vailanu, 7 Ted Hill (cc), 6 Kyle Hatherell, 5 Andrew Kitchener, 4 Joe Batley, 3 Jay Tyack, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Ethan Waller
Replacements: 16 Niall Annett, 17 Kai Owen, 18 Christian Judge, 19 Matt Kvesic, 20 Sam Lewis, 21 Gareth Simpson, 22 Oli Morris, 23 Melani Nanai

Venue: StoneX Stadium
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Referee: Christophe Ridley
Assistant referees: Dan Jones, Neil Chivers
TMO: David Rose

Wasps v London Irish

Form: Wasps have lost their last three Gallagher Premiership Rugby matches since beating Bath 27-17 at The Recreation Ground in Round 7. Wasps have lost their last five matches at Coventry Building Society Arena in all competitions since their 26-20 victory there over Northampton Saints in Premiership Rugby on 10 October. London Irish have won their last five first-team fixtures since drawing 34-all at Saracens in Premiership Rugby on 6 November. The Exiles have lost only one of their last six Gallagher Premiership Rugby matches, 33-45 at home to Bristol in Round 7. London Irish have not lost away from home in any competition since early October. The last four fixtures between the two clubs have all been won by the away side on the day, whilst London Irish have won on each of their last two visits to Coventry.

Prediction: Wasps by 5

The teams:

Wasps: 15 Ali Crossdale, 14 Francois Hougaard, 13 Josh Bassett, 12 Jimmy Gopperth, 11 Luke Mehson, 10 Jacob Umaga, 9 Sam Wolstenholme, 8 Tom Willis, 7 Brad Shields (c), 6 Alfie Barbeary, 5 Elliott Stooke, 4 Vaea Fifita, 3 Biyi Alo, 2 Dan Frost, 1 Tom West
Replacements: 16 Tom Cruse, 17 Rodrigo Martinez, 18 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 19 Tim Cardall, 20 Thomas Young, 21 Will Porter, 22 Michael Le Bourgeois, 23 Zach Kibirige

London Irish: 15 Tom Parton, 14 Kyle Rowe, 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Benhard van Rensburg, 11 Ollie Hassell-Collins, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Olly Cracknell, 7 Tom Pearson, 6 Matt Rogerson (c), 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Steve Mafi, 3 Ollie Hoskins, 2 Agustin Creevy, 1 Will Goodrick-Clarke
Replacements: 16 Tadgh McElroy, 17 Allan Dell, 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 George Nott, 20 Juan Martin Gonzalez, 21 Ben White, 22 Matt Williams, 23 Lucio Cinti

Venue: Coventry Building Society Arena
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Assistant referees: Gareth Holsgrove, Alex Thomas
TMO: Claire Hodnett

Bath v Gloucester

Form: Bath Rugby have lost all nine matches they have played in Gallagher Premiership Rugby this season, with their most recent win in the competition being against Northampton at the Recreation Ground on 12 June. This is Bath’s only victory at their home in any tournament since April. Gloucester Rugby’s only defeat in their last seven Gallagher Premiership Rugby matches was 13-16 at home to Exeter on 29 October. Gloucester Rugby have lost just once away from home this season: 20-34 at Northampton on the opening weekend. Excluding unplayed matches, Bath Rugby have won their last two games against Gloucester in Premiership Rugby whilst the Cherry and Whites only victory at The Rec in any competition since February 2016 was by a single point in Premiership Rugby in October 2017.

Prediction: Gloucester by 8

The teams:

Bath: 15 Tom de Glanville, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Max Ojomoh, 11 Ruaridh McConnochie, 10 Orlando Bailey, 9 Ben Spencer, 8 Sam Underhill, 7 Mike Williams, 6 Tom Ellis, 5 Charlie Ewels, 4 Josh McNally, 3 Will Stuart, 2 Tom Dunn, 1 Lewis Boyce
Replacements: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 D’Arcy Rae, 19 Will Spencer, 20 Nahum Merigan, 21 Ollie Fox, 22 Will Butt, 23 Gabriel Hamer-Webb

Gloucester: 15, Lloyd Evans, 14, Louis Rees-Zammit, 13, Chris Harris, 12, Mark Atkinson, 11, Jonny May, 10, Adam Hastings, 9, Ben Meehan, 8 Ruan Ackermann, 7 Lewis Ludlow (c), 6 Jordy Reid, 5 Matias Alemanno, 4 Freddie Clarke, 3 Kirill Gotovtsev, 2 Jack Singleton, 1 Val Rapava-Ruskin
16 Santiago Socino, 17 Jamal Ford-Robinson, 18 Fraser Balmain, 19 Andrew Davidson, 20 Jack Clement, 21 Charlie Chapman, 22 Billy Twelvetrees, 23 Santiago Carreras

Venue: The Rec
Kick-off: 16:30 GMT
Referee: Matthew Carley
Assistant referees: Nick Wood, Simon Adams
TMO: Ian Tempest