Sale roll out gargantuan midfield duo for Tigers trip

David Skippers

There’s four games on the schedule in the Premiership on Saturday as 3,500 fans are set to be allowed into the Stoop to watch Harlequins take on Bath.

Saracens v Wasps

Club legend Alex Goode will make his 300th Saracens appearance when he runs out against Wasps at Allianz Park on Saturday.

The full-back, who made his Sarries debut in 2008, will become the fourth player in the club’s history to reach the landmark.

In the 12 years since, he has been integral to the Men in Black’s success, helping Mark McCall’s side win eight major trophies.

Goode forms part of an unchanged back three which started the victory over London Irish. Alex Lewington and Sean Maitland are on the wings while the midfield of Brad Barritt and Elliot Daly remains the same.

Fly-half Owen Farrell returns to the starting XV and the only other change from Monday’s fixture sees Tim Swinson slot into the second-row alongside Maro Itoje.

Meanwhile, Wasps veteran Jimmy Gopperth will captain the side from fly-half on his 100th appearance for the club.

Centre Juan de Jongh makes his first appearance since the restart, after returning from hand and hamstring injuries.

Hooker Antonio ‘TJ’ Harris is named amongst the replacements, having re-joined the club on a short-term deal this week from Jersey, and returns to the ground where he made his first Premiership start for Wasps in December 2018.

There is one potential Wasps debutant in the matchday 23, as 20-year-old Wasps Senior Academy back-rower, and former Warwick school pupil, Kieran Curran is named as a replacement.

Newly promoted first-team squad member, 20-year-old Will Simonds, is also in line to make his Premiership debut from the bench, having come through the Wasps Academy.

Form: Saracens’ only defeat in the last six rounds of Gallagher Premiership Rugby was 12-16 to Bristol at Ashton Gate on 15 August. Sarries have won their last ten fixtures at Allianz Park in all tournaments since Northampton beat them there in round 1 of Premiership Rugby. Wasps have lost only once in the last seven rounds of Gallagher Premiership Rugby: 11-20 at home to Sale on 25 August. Wasps have won their last three away games in Premiership Rugby, their best run on the road since February 2018. Wasps beat Saracens 60-10 at Ricoh Arena in round 11 but have not achieved a Premiership Rugby season’s double over them since 2006-07. Wasps only previous victory at Allianz Park was 64-23 in Gallagher Premiership Rugby in February 2016.

The teams:

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Alex Lewington, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 Sean Maitland, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Aled Davies, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Jackson Wray, 6 Mike Rhodes, 5 Tim Swinson, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Jamie George, 1 Richard Barrington
Replacements: 16 Kapeli Pifeleti, 17 Sam Crean, 18 Alec Clarey, 19 Callum Hunter-Hill, 20 Sean Reffell, 21 Tom Whiteley, 22 Dom Morris, 23 Elliott Obatoyinbo

Wasps: 15 Rob Miller, 14 Paolo Odogwu, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Michael Le Bourgeois, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Jimmy Gopperth (c), 9 Ben Vellacott, 8 Sione Vailanu, 7 Ben Morris, 6 Tom Willis, 5 Tim Cardall, 4 Will Rowlands, 3 Biyi Alo, 2 Tom Cruse, 1 Ben Harris
Replacements: 16 Antonio ‘TJ Harris, 17 Simon McIntyre, 18 Jack Owlett, 19 Theo Vukasinovic, 20 Kieran Curran, 21 Sam Wolstenholme, 22 Charlie Atkinson, 23 Will Simonds

Venue: Allianz Park
Kick-off: 12:30 BST
Referee: Christophe Ridley
Assistant Referees: Craig Maxwell-Keys, Adam Leal
TMO: David Grashoff

Harlequins v Bath

With up to 3,500 onlookers set to fill the Stoop, Harlequins club captain Chris Robshaw leads out a side with three changes to the team that claimed a bonus-point victory over Northampton last Sunday.

Glen Young replaces Stephan Lewies in the second-row while Brett Herron steps in for Marcus Smith in the 10 jersey to pair last week’s Man of the Match Danny Care in the half-back department.

In the midfield, Australian international Ben Tapuai replaces Paul Lasike at inside centre, with the bruising USA international taking up a spot on the bench in the 23 jersey.

Meanwhile, Bath boss Stuart Hooper makes three changes to the forward pack with Josh Bayliss coming in for Zach Mercer and Elliott Stooke comes off the bench to replace Josh McNally and partners up at second-row with Charlie Ewels.

Miles Reid comes into the side to earn his first start for the blue, Black and White since the first match of the season, where he tore his ACL against Exeter Chiefs in the Premiership Rugby Cup at Sandy Park.

Cameron Redpath comes back into the fold, replacing Josh Matavesi in midfield whilst Semesa Rokoduguni comes back into the side to replace Gabriel Hamer-Webb as the England international returns to the wing, with Ruaridh McConnochie switching to the opposite side.

Form: Harlequins’ last seven fixtures have all been won by the home side on the day, whilst Quins’ most recent defeat at Twickenham Stoop being 15-29 to London Irish on 15 February. Bath Rugby’s run of three successive victories since the restart ended with their 23-27 home defeat to Wasps on Monday. Bath’s only defeat in their last four away games was 20-57 at Exeter in round 13 of Gallagher Premiership Rugby. Bath beat Harlequins 19-12 at the Recreation Ground in February but have not achieved a Premiership Rugby season’s double over the Londoners since 2014-15.

The teams:

Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Nathan Earle, 10 Brett Herron, 9 Danny Care, 8 Alex Dombrandt, 7 Will Evans, 6 Chris Robshaw (c), 5 Glen Young, 4 Matt Symons, 3 Simon Kerrod, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Joe Marler
Replacements: 16 Joe Gray, 17 Santiago Garcia Botta, 18 Will Collier, 19 Stephan Lewies, 20 Tom Lawday, 21 Martin Landajo, 22 James Lang, 23 Paul Lasike

Bath: 15 Anthony Watson, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Cameron Redpath, 11 Ruaridh McConnochie, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Ben Spencer, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Miles Reid, 6 Josh Bayliss, 5 Charlie Ewels, 4 Elliott Stooke, 3 Will Stuart, 2 Tom Dunn, 1 Beno Obano
Replacements: 16 Jack Walker, 17 Lewis Boyce, 18 Christian Judge, 19 Josh McNally, 20 Tom Ellis, 21 Will Chudley, 22 Josh Matavesi, 23 Tom de Glanville

Venue: Twickenham Stoop
Kick-off: 14:00 BST
Referee: Tom Foley
Assistant Referees: Matthew Carley, Simon McConnell
TMO: Sean Davey

Leicester Tigers v Sale Sharks

Tomás Lavanini and Charlie Clare are the only Leicester starters from last Sunday’s trip to Gloucester in the team for this weekend’s Round 18 encounter with Sale.

Argentina international Lavanini partners Calum Green at lock, with Harry Wells joining Luke Wallace and Hanro Liebenberg in the back-row. In the front-row, Ellis Genge and Dan Cole are at prop with Clare named at hooker.

Ben Youngs and George Ford, who came off the bench to lead the fightback against Gloucester last weekend, are the starting half-back pair. Ford will captain the side in Tom Youngs’ absence.

In their third appearance together in the Leicester midfield, international duo Matt Scott and Jaco Taute start at centre, with Freddie Steward at full-back in his fourth Premiership appearance, and David Williams and Nemani Nadolo selected on the wings.

Jake Kerr, Facundo Gigena and Nephi Leatigaga are the front-row cover on the bench, with Cameron Henderson and Jordan Taufua included as fellow forwards. Ben White returns, with Zack Henry and Guy Porter the other backline options after starting last Sunday’s game at Kingsholm.

Meanwhile, Manu Tuilagi will make his Welford Road return as Steve Diamond names the England international in the Sale midfield alongside Springbok powerhouse Rohan Janse van Rensburg.

After an impressive victory over top four rivals Bristol Bears in Round 17, Sale director of rugby Diamond makes four personnel changes to the matchday 23 as he readies his squad for rotation ahead of the Premiership’s second batch of congested midweek fixtures.

Coenie Oosthuizen, who started last weekend’s match at tighthead prop, moves back over to loosehead in the absence of injured Ross Harrison. He is joined in the front-row by fellow Springbok Akker van der Merwe, along with Jake Cooper-Woolley who fills the gap left by Oosthuizen in the number three shirt this weekend.

The powerful Jean-Luc du Preez remains in the second-row alongside World Cup winning lineout specialist Lood de Jager after both players made an immense impact in Round 17.

Stand-in captain Ben Curry is rotated after an impressive showing over the last two rounds in the Premiership. He is replaced at openside flanker by twin brother Tom, who is joined by club captain Jono Ross and Daniel du Preez in the back-row, wearing six and eight respectively.

After a commanding performance at the AJ Bell Stadium, Faf de Klerk and AJ MacGinty remain the in favour half-back combination.

Marland Yarde, Denny Solomona and Luke James take their places in the back three to cap off an in-form starting XV for the Sharks.

Form: Leicester Tigers’ only victory in the last five rounds of Gallagher Premiership Rugby was 13-7 against London Irish at Welford Road on 26 August. The Tigers have lost only once at Welford Road in any competition in 2020: 16-38 to Bath Rugby in round 15 of Premiership Rugby. Sale Sharks have won their last two Gallagher Premiership Rugby fixtures, at Wasps and at home to Bristol. The Sharks have won three of their last five away games in Premiership Rugby, at Exeter in round 9, Gloucester in round 12 and Wasps in round 16. Sale have won their last two matches against Leicester Tigers in Gallagher Premiership Rugby, but both were at AJ Bell Stadium. The Sharks have been victorious just once at Welford Road in Premiership Rugby since 2008, 10-3 in February 2016.

The teams:

Leicester Tigers: 15 Freddie Steward, 14 David Williams, 13 Jaco Taute, 12 Matt Scott, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 George Ford (c), 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Hanro Liebenberg, 7 Luke Wallace, 6 Harry Wells, 5 Calum Green, 4 Tomás Lavanini, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Charlie Clare, 1 Ellis Genge
Replacements: 16 Jake Kerr, 17 Facundo Gigena, 18 Nephi Leatigaga, 19 Cameron Henderson, 20 Jordan Taufua, 21 Ben White, 22 Zack Henry, 23 Guy Porter

Sale Sharks: 15 Luke James, 14 Denny Solomona, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11 Marland Yarde, 10 AJ MacGinty, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Tom Curry, 6 Jono Ross (c), 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Jean-Luc du Preez, 3 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 2 Akker van der Merwe, 1 Coenie Oosthuizen
Replacements: 16 Euan Ashman, 17 Valerey Morozov, 18 Will-Griff John, 19 Cameron Neild, 20 Matt Postlethwaite, 21 Will Cliff, 22 Sam James, 23 Arron Reed

Venue: Welford Road
Kick-off: 15:00 BST
Referee: Ian Tempest
Assistant Referees: Karl Dickson, Jack Makepeace
TMO: Rowan Kitt

Gloucester v London Irish

Gloucester head coach George Skivington has named his side to take on London Irish at Kingsholm, making five changes to his starting XV that defeated Leicester Tigers at Kingsholm last weekend.

Amongst the backs, Lloyd Evans starts at fly-half, partnered by Stephen Varney in the half-backs. Mark Atkinson comes in at inside centre for his first appearance since captaining the Cherry & Whites at Allianz Park in Round 16.

In the pack, Val Rapava-Ruskin and Fraser Balmain is joined in the front-row by Franco Marais. Ed Slater and Matt Garvey continue in the engine room, with Academy youngster, Jack Clement, starting at six following a number of impressive performances.

Meanwhile, the Exiles have named their team for Saturday’s trip to Kingsholm as Agustin Creevy starts after scoring on his debut last week. He is joined in the front-row by Harry Elrington and Sekope Kepu. George Nott and Sebastian de Chaves combine in the second-row.

Matt Rogerson starts at blindside flanker, with Blair Cowan captaining the side from openside flanker. Albert Tuisue concludes the pack in the number eight jersey.

Nick Phipps and Paddy Jackson are the half-back duo, as Terrence Hepetema and Matt Williams are set to link up in the centres.

Once again, the Irish back three is made up of the club’s Academy graduates. Ben Loader and Ollie Hassell-Collins start on either wing and Tom Homer is given the 15 shirt.

Form: Gloucester Rugby have won just two of their last nine Gallagher Premiership Rugby matches, at Worcester in round 14 and at home to Leicester in round 17, the victory over Leicester ending an unwanted run of three successive defeats at Kingsholm. London Irish have lost their last six Gallagher Premiership Rugby encounters since beating this weekend’s opponents Gloucester at Madejski Stadium in February. The Exiles have won three times on the road this season in Premiership Rugby, at Wasps in round one, Northampton in round 9 and Harlequins in round 10. London Irish have not achieved a season’s Premiership Rugby double over Gloucester since 2005-06. They won on their most recent visit to Kingsholm 49-29 in the Premiership Rugby Cup in September but have not been victorious there in Gallagher Premiership Rugby since January 2013.

The teams:

Gloucester: 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Ollie Thorley, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Mark Atkinson, 11 Jonny May, 10 Lloyd Evans, 9 Stephen Varney, 8 Jake Polledri, 7 Lewis Ludlow (c), 6 Jack Clement, 5 Matt Garvey, 4 Ed Slater, 3 Fraser Balmain, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Val Rapava-Ruskin
Replacements: 16 Jack Singleton, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Jack Stanley, 19 Ruan Ackermann, 20 Jordy Reid, 21 Joe Simpson, 22 Billy Twelvetrees, 23 Louis Rees-Zammit

London Irish: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Ben Loader, 13 Matt Williams, 12 Terrence Hepetema, 11 Ollie Hassell-Collins, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Albert Tuisue, 7 Blair Cowan (c), 6 Matt Rogerson, 5 Sebastian de Chaves, 4 George Nott, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Agustin Creevy, 1 Harry Elrington
Replacements: 16 Matt Cornish, 17 Will Goodrick-Clarke, 18 Ollie Hoskins, 19 Jack Cooke, 20 Ben Donnell, 21 Ben Meehan, 22 Ross Neal, 23 James Stokes

Venue: Kingsholm
Kick-off: 16:30 BST
Referee: Hamish Smales
Assistant Referees: Simon Harding, Phil Watters
TMO: David Rose