Premiership: Semi Radradra back from injury for Bristol Bears as West Country trio vie for Champions Cup qualification

Colin Newboult

2J3P1AG AJ Bell Stadium, Sale, UK. 9th Apr, 2022. European Championship rugby, Sale versus Bristol Bears; Semi Radradra of Bristol Bears is congratulated by team-mates Charles Piutau and Sam Jeffries of Bristol Bears Credit: Action Plus Sports/Alamy Live News

The Premiership’s regular season concludes on Saturday with five games taking place as West Country trio Bath, Bristol Bears and Gloucester vie for Champions Cup qualification.

Bath v Saracens

Form: Bath have won their last three Premiership Rugby matches since their defeat at Newcastle in Round 20, and they have not won four in succession in the tournament since 2020. Bath beat Exeter last time out at the Rec in Round 21 to end a pair of successive defeats at the venue. Saracens have already secured a seventh home semi-final. Saracens’ last six matches in the Premiership have ended in three wins and three defeats. The Londoners have not won away from home in any competition sincebeating Gloucester at Kingsholm on 6 January. Saracens are unbeaten in their last five encounters with Bath including a 17-all draw at StoneX Stadium in October 2020, whilst Bath’s most recent success in the fixture came at the Recreation Ground in March 2019.

Prediction: Bath by 15

The teams:

Bath: 15 Matt Gallagher, 14 Joe Cokanasiga, 13 Ollie Lawrence, 12 Max Ojomoh, 11 Ruaridh McConnochie, 10 Orlando Bailey, 9 Ben Spencer (c), 8 Miles Reid, 7 Chris Cloete, 6 Ted Hill, 5 GJ van Velze, 4 Josh McNally, 3 Will Stuart, 2 Tom Dunn, 1 Beno Obano
Replacements: 16 Niall Annett, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 D’Arcy Rae, 19 Dave Attwood, 20 Josh Bayliss, 21 Max Green, 22 Piers Francis, 23 Jonathan Joseph

Saracens: 15 Elliot Daly (cc), 14 Rotimi Segun, 13 Josh Hallett, 12 Olly Hartley, 11 Ben Harris, 10 Manu Vunipola, 9 Ruben de Haas, 8 Ollie Stonham, 7 Toby Knight, 6 Nathan Michelow, 5 Callum Hunter-Hill, 4 Alex Wardell, 3 Christian Judge, 2 Ethan Lewis (cc), 1 Eroni Mawi
Replacements: 16 Samson Adejimi, 17 Robin Hislop, 18 Harvey Beaton, 19 Kaden Pearce-Paul, 20 Max Eke, 21 Charlie Bracken, 22 Dom Morris, 23 Tobias Elliott

Venue: The Rec
Kick-off: 16:00 BST (15:00 GMT)
Referee: Christophe Ridley
Assistant referees: Jack Makepeace, Greg Macdonald
TMO: Martin Fox

Bristol Bears v Gloucester

Form: Bristol Bears have lost their last four first team matches since beating Harlequins 51-26 at Ashton Gate in Round 20 of Premiership Rugby. The Bears were defeated in their most recent Premiership fixture at Ashton Gate, 20-36 to Sale, to end a three-game winning run at the venue in the competition. Gloucester have lost their last five league matches since beating Harlequins 28-26 at Kingsholm on 17 February. The Cherry and Whites have not won away from home in Premiership Rugby since their trip to London Irish on 21 October. Gloucester have won two of their last three clashes with their local rivals, whilst the last four fixtures between the two in Premiership Rugby have all been won by the home side on the day. Gloucester’s only victory in their last seven visits to Bristol in all competitions was 43-15 in the Premiership Rugby Cup on 30 March.

Prediction: Bristol by 7

The teams:

Bristol: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Siva Naulago, 13 Semi Radradra, 12 James Williams, 11 Ioan Lloyd, 10 AJ MacGinty, 9 Harry Randall (cc), 8 Fitz Harding, 7 Sam Jeffries, 6 Steven Luatua (cc), 5 Chris Vui, 4 Joe Batley, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Harry Thacker, 1 Yann Thomas
Replacements: 16 Will Capon, 17 Jake Woolmore, 18 Max Lahiff, 19 Magnus Bradbury, 20 Jake Heenan, 21 Andy Uren, 22 Sam Bedlow, 23 Noah Heward

Gloucester: 15 Santi Carreras, 14 Jonny May, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Seb Atkinson, 11 Ollie Thorley, 10 Adam Hastings, 9 Stephen Varney, 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Lewis Ludlow (c), 6 Jack Clement, 5 Matias Alemanno, 4 Freddie Clarke, 3 Kirill Gotovtsev, 2 George McGuigan, 1 Mayco Vivas
Replacements: 16 Seb Blake, 17 Val Rapava-Ruskin, 18 Jamal Ford-Robinson, 19 Cam Jordan, 20 Freddie Thomas, 21 Ben Meehan, 22 Billy Twelvetrees, 23 Alex Hearle

Venue: Ashton Gate
Kick-off: 16:00 BST (15:00 GMT)
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant referees: Karl Dickson, Andrew Jackson
TMO: Rowan Kitt

Leicester Tigers v Harlequins

Form: Leicester Tigers have already secured a 14th appearance in the semi-finals and have won their last six matches in Premiership. The Tigers have lost just once at Mattioli Woods Welford Road in the Premiership since early October: 18-19 to Northampton on 28 January. Harlequins’ only victory in their last five first team fixtures was 48-20 against Newcastle Falcons at the Twickenham Stoop in Round 22 of Premiership Rugby. The Londoners have not won away from home in any competition since they visited Bath in Round 12 of Premiership Rugby in early December. The Tigers beat Harlequins 27-19 at the Stoop in Round 6 and have not achieved a season’s double over Quins since 2017/18. Harlequins have won just once at Welford Road since 2013: 32-26 in October2020.

Prediction: Leicester by 6

The teams:

Leicester Tigers: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Guy Porter, 12 Dan Kelly, 11 Harry Potter, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Tommy Reffell, 6 Hanro Liebenberg, 5 Cameron Henderson, 4 Harry Wells, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Julián Montoya (c), 1 Tom West
Replacements: 16 Charlie Clare, 17 Francois van Wyk, 18 Joe Heyes, 19 Finn Carnduff, 20 Olly Cracknell, 21 Jack van Poortvliet, 22 Jimmy Gopperth, 23 Matt Scott

Harlequins: 15 Nick David, 14 Cadan Murley, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Danny Care, 8 Alex Dombrandt (c), 7 Will Evans, 6 Jack Kenningham, 5 Irne Herbst, 4 Dino Lamb, 3 Will Collier, 2 Sam Riley, 1 Joe Marler
Replacements: 16 Jack Musk, 17 Fin Baxter, 18 Will Hobson, 19 George Hammond, 20 Will Trenholm, 21 Lewis Gjaltema, 22 Luke Northmore, 23 Louis Lynagh

Venue: Mattioli Woods Welford Road
Kick-off: 16:00 BST (15:00 GMT)
Referee: Ian Tempest
Assistant referees: Adam Leal, Hamish Smales
TMO: Claire Hodnett

London Irish v Exeter Chiefs

Form: London Irish’s three game winning run in Premiership Rugby ended with their 21-45 defeat at Saracens in Round 23. The Exiles have lost only once at Gtech Community Stadium in the league since October: 22-25 to Leicester Tigers on 25 February. Exeter Chiefs beat Bristol 22-21 at Sandy Park in Round 23 to end a two-game losing run in the competition. The Chiefs have lost their last seven away games in the Premiership since beating Bristol 50-14 at Ashton Gate on 7 October, which represents their worst-ever away trot in Premiership Rugby. The last six meetings between the two clubs in Premiership Rugby have been evenly split with three wins a piece. Exeter have visited Gtech Stadium on three previous occasions, winning twice, 31-12 in the league in May 2021 and 24-20 after extra time in the final of this year’s Premiership Rugby Cup.

Prediction: London Irish by 4

The teams:

London Irish: 15 Henry Arundell, 14 Ben Loader, 13 Benhard van Rensburg, 12 Rory Jennings, 11 Lucio Cinti, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Ben White, 8 So’otala Fa’aso’o, 7 Juan Martin Gonzalez, 6 Matt Rogerson (c), 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Api Ratuniyarawa, 3 Oliver Hoskins, 2 Agustin Creevy, 1 Danilo Fischetti
Replacements: 16 Mike Willemse, 17 Tarek Haffar, 18 Lovejoy Chawatama, 19 Josh Caulfield, 20 Tom Pearson, 21 Chandler Cunningham-South, 22 Joe Powell, 23 James Stokes

Exeter: 15 Josh Hodge, 14 Immanuel Feyi-Waboso, 13 Henry Slade (c), 12 Ollie Devoto, 11 Tom Wyatt, 10 Harvey Skinner, 9 Stu Townsend, 8 Greg Fisilau, 7 Christ Tshiunza, 6 Jacques Vermeulen, 5 Jack Dunne, 4 Jannes Kirsten, 3 Josh Iosefa-Scott, 2 Jack Innard, 1 Alec Hepburn
Replacements: 16 Iestyn Harris, 17 Billy Keast, 18 Marcus Street, 19 Mike Williams, 20 Aidon Davis, 21 Tom Cairns, 22 Tom Hendrickson, 23 Dan John

Venue: Gtech Community Stadium
Kick-off: 16:00 BST (15:00 GMT)
Referee: Luke Pearce
Assistant referees: Craig Maxwell-Keys, Wayne Falla
TMO: Stuart Terheege

Sale Sharks v Newcastle Falcons

Form: Sale Sharks have secured a fourth appearance in the semi-finals of Premiership Rugby and a first one which will be played at AJ Bell Stadium, although they were at home when they beat Wasps at Edgeley Park in the 2006 semi-final. Sale Sharks have won their last two Premiership fixtures since their 18-36 defeat at London Irish in Round 20. Sale have won their last five home games in the league since Harlequins beat them in Salford on 23 October. Newcastle Falcons have won just one of their last seven Premiership Rugby matches: 17-12 at home to Gloucester on 24 March. The Falcons have not won away from home in the competition since they visited Kingsholm on 12 November. The Falcons beat the Sharks 20-14 at Kingston Park in Round 13 and have not achieved a Premiership season double over their closest rivals geographically since 2014/15. Newcastle have won only once at the AJ Bell Stadium in Premiership Rugby since 2013: 13-12 in September 2017.

Prediction: Sale by 12

The teams:

Sale: 15 Joe Carpenter, 14 Tom Roebuck, 13 Robert du Preez, 12 Manu Tuilagi, 11 Arron Reed, 10 George Ford, 9 Raffi Quirke, 8 Jono Ross (c), 7 Ben Curry, 6 Sam Dugdale, 5 Jonny Hill, 4 Jean-Luc du Preez, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Ewan Ashman, 1 Bevan Rodd
16 Ethan Caine, 17 Simon McIntyre, 18 James Harper, 19 Josh Beaumont, 20 Daniel du Preez, 21 Tom Ellis, 22 Will Cliff, 23 Sam James

Newcastle: 15 Elliott Obatoyinbo, 14 Adam Radwan, 13 Matias Moroni, 12 Matias Orlando, 11 Mateo Carreras, 10 Brett Connon, 9 Sam Stuart, 8 Callum Chick (c), 7 Philip van der Walt, 6 Pedro Rubiolo, 5 Sebastian de Chaves, 4 Greg Peterson, 3 Mark Tampin, 2 Jamie Blamire, 1 Adam Brocklebank
16 Conrad Cade, 17 Phil Brantingham, 18 Richard Palframan, 19 Freddie Lockwood, 20 Carl Fearns, 21 Josh Barton, 22 Tian Schoeman, 23 Josh Thomas

Venue: AJ Bell Stadium
Kick-off: 16:00 BST (15:00 GMT)
Referee: Sara Cox
Assistant referees: Anthony Woodthorpe, Jamie Leahy
TMO: Dean Richards

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