Waisake Naholo and Jordan Taufua set for Premiership debuts

Date published: November 8 2019

There are five Premiership matches scheduled for Saturday and Sunday with Bath, Gloucester, Harlequins, London Irish and Exeter Chiefs all hosting their games.


Bath v Northampton Saints

Will Chudley, Tom Dunn, Tom Ellis, Josh McNally and Beno Obano return to Bath’s starting line-up as they welcome Northampton to the Rec.

Chudley returns to the fold at scrum-half in an otherwise unchanged backline. Rhys Priestland partners Chudley in the half-back pairing, with Jamie Roberts and Max Wright lining up in the midfield.

Aled Brew and Semesa Rokoduguni start on the wings, with Freddie Burns continuing at full-back.

Obano and Dunn return to the front-row, with Will Stuart at tighthead. McNally starts at lock alongside captain Charlie Ewels, while Tom Ellis takes his place at blindside flanker. Zach Mercer, a try scorer last weekend, continues at number eight, with Josh Bayliss completing the back-row.

Jackson Willison could make his return to action after being named among the replacements to face Chris Boyd’s side, who are unbeaten in their opening three games of the Premiership.

Meanwhile, Northampton director of rugby Boyd has made just one change to his side, with Fraser Dingwall returning to the midfield at the Rec.

The men in Black, Green and Gold sit top of the league standings after three wins from three matches – with victories over Saracens, Worcester Warriors and Harlequins leaving them as the only side with a 100 per cent winning record so far.

Dingwall joins Scotland international Rory Hutchinson in the centres as Northampton’s only change to the side that beat Quins last weekend, with Boyd opting to largely stick with his winning formula.

George Furbank, Tom Collins and last Friday’s man-of-the-match Taqele Naiyaravoro keep their places in Saints’ back three, with the in-form half-back duo of Henry Taylor and James Grayson starting together for the seventh straight week.

The Northampton pack meanwhile is completely unchanged, seeing Ben Franks, Mike Haywood and Ehren Painter selected in the front-row, with locks David Ribbans and Alex Moon in behind them.

Following his try double against Quins, Teimana Harrison will lead the side out again in the eight jersey, with Tom Wood and Jamie Gibson in the flanker positions for the trip to the West Country.

The teams:

Bath: 15 Freddie Burns, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Max Wright, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Aled Brew, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Will Chudley, 8 Zach Mercer, 7 Josh Bayliss, 6 Tom Ellis, 5 Charlie Ewels, 4 Josh McNally, 3 Will Stuart, 2 Tom Dunn, 1 Beno Obano
Replacements: 16 Jack Walker, 17 Lewis Boyce, 18 Christian Judge, 19 Elliott Stooke, 20 Mike Williams, 21 Chris Cook, 22 Jackson Willison, 23 Gabriel Hamer-Webb

Northampton Saints: 15 George Furbank, 14 Tom Collins, 13 Fraser Dingwall, 12 Rory Hutchinson, 11 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 10 James Grayson, 9 Henry Taylor, 8 Teimana Harrison (c), 7 Jamie Gibson, 6 Tom Wood, 5 Alex Moon, 4 David Ribbans, 3 Ehren Painter, 2 Mike Haywood, 1 Ben Franks
Replacements: 16 James Fish, 17 Toby Trinder, 18 Paul Hill, 19 Api Ratuniyarawa, 20 Alex Coles, 21 James Mitchell, 22 Fraser Strachan, 23 Ahsee Tuala

Venue: Recreation Ground
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Referee: Ian Tempest
Assistant referees: Hamish Smales, Wayne Falla
TMO: Trevor Fisher

Gloucester v Saracens

Gloucester have made six changes to their starting line-up for the visit of Saracens on Saturday, as Ben Morgan captains the side.

The Cherry and Whites make half a dozen changes to the team that started against Leicester last weekend. Freddie Clarke replaces Ed Slater in the second-row, Slater having picked up a foot injury early on at Welford Road. In the back-row, Jaco Kriel and Lewis Ludlow return to the starting line-up.

There are also three changes to the backs. Callum Braley gets the nod at scrum-half, Chris Harris will make his first start for the club at outside centre and Jason Woodward returns at full-back with Tom Marshall moving back on to the wing.

Meanwhile, Saracens hooker Joe Gray will start for the first time this season in the Premiership this weekend.

The 31-year-old has appeared twice as a replacement so far in 2018/19 and takes the Sarries number two jersey for the trip to Kingsholm.

Flanker Calum Clark also features in the pack after missing the Men in Black’s last-gasp victory over London Irish meaning Academy graduate Nick Isiekwe switches back to the second-row.

Last Saturday’s match was decided by Manu Vunipola’s boot and the young fly-half continues at 10 and will have centre partnership Nick Tompkins and Duncan Taylor outside him.

Hooker Jack Singleton, who began his career in the club’s Academy, is named on the bench upon his return from Rugby World Cup duty with England and could make his first outing for his boyhood club.

Having featured in the tournament’s final against South Africa, Ben Spencer is also back in club action.

The teams:

Gloucester: 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Tom Marshall, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Mark Atkinson, 11 Ollie Thorley, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Callum Braley, 8 Ben Morgan (c), 7 Lewis Ludlow, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Gerbrandt Grobler, 4 Freddie Clarke, 3 Fraser Balmain, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Josh Hohneck
Replacements: 16 Corné Fourie, 17 Val Rapava Ruskin, 18 Jamal Ford-Robinson, 19 Ruan Ackermann, 20 Jake Polledri, 21 Joe Simpson, 22 Billy Twelvetrees, 23 Matt Banahan

Saracens: 15 Matt Gallagher, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Duncan Taylor, 12 Nick Tompkins, 11 Alex Lewington, 10 Manu Vunipola, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Jackson Wray (c), 7 Ben Earl, 6 Calum Clark, 5 Nick Isiekwe, 4 Will Skelton, 3 Titi Lamositele, 2 Joe Gray, 1 Ralph Adams-Hale
Replacements: 16 Jack Singleton, 17 Richard Barrington, 18 Sam Wainwright, 19 Joel Kpoku, 20 Callum Hunter-Hill, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Alex Lozowski, 23 Rotimi Segun

Venue: Kingsholm
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Assistant referees: Adam Leal, Philip Watters
TMO: Claire Hodnett

Harlequins v Worcester Warriors

Harlequins head of rugby Paul Gustard has made a number of changes from last week’s loss to Northampton for Saturday’s clash with Worcester.

James Chisholm is named as captain with summer signing Will Evans joining him in the back-row for his fifth appearance for the club, while the formidable talents of Cadan Murley and Gabriel Ibitoye start on the wings.

Fijian international Tevita Cavubati will make his club debut at second-row. Michele Campagnaro has recovered from injury and is set for his debut off the bench, alongside prolific Fijian winger Vereniki Goneva, who is in line for his first Harlequins appearance after the Rugby World Cup.

Meanwhile, Samoa international wing Ed Fidow will make his debut for Worcester this weekend.

Fidow was signed from French Pro D2 club Provence during the summer and joined Warriors for the first half of their pre-season training. He was then called up Samoa for the Rugby World Cup in Japan where he started all four of their pool matches.

Having returned to Sixways last month, Fidow has been given time to familiarise with Warriors’ attack and defence systems but has now been named in a re-jigged back division for his debut.

With full-back Chris Pennell (lacerated thigh), centre Ryan Mills (shoulder) and fly-half Duncan Weir (hand) ruled out by injuries, Warriors have called up South Africa centre Francois Venter and full-back Jamie Shillcock for their first Premiership starts of the season.

Venter, who missed the first month of the season because of a calf injury, will form a new centre pairing with Wales international Ashley Beck.

Shillcock will make his first Premiership appearance in 11 months and his first start in the competition since April 2018.

Warriors have made two changes to their front-row with Ethan Waller recalled at loosehead prop and Richard Palframan given a starting berth at tighthead following his summer move from London Scottish.

Jono Lance, who replaces Weir at fly-half, will captain Warriors in the absence of Mills who had been acting captain. Club captain GJ van Velze is again named as a replacement.

The teams:

Harlequins: 15 Ross Chisholm, 14 Cadan Murley, 13 James Lang, 12 Francis Saili, 11 Gabriel Ibitoye, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Martin Landajo, 8 Alex Dombrandt, 7 Will Evans, 6 James Chisholm (c), 5 Tevita Cavubati, 4 Glen Young, 3 Will Collier, 2 Elia Elia, 1 Santiago Garcia Botta
Replacements: 16 Scott Baldwin, 17 Nick Auterac, 18 Simon Kerrod, 19 Dino Lamb, 20 Tom Lawday, 21 Niall Saunders, 22 Michele Campagnaro, 23 Vereniki Goneva

Worcester Warriors: 15 Jamie Shillcock, 14 Melani Nanai, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Ashley Beck, 11 Ed Fidow, 10 Jono Lance (c), 9 Michael Heaney, 8 Cornell du Preez, 7 Sam Lewis, 6 Ted Hill, 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 Anton Bresler, 3 Richard Palframan, 2 Niall Annett, 1 Ethan Waller
Replacements: 16 Joe Taufete’e, 17 Callum Black, 18 Conor Carey, 19 Michael Fatialofa, 20 GJ van Velze, 21 Jono Kitto, 22 Ollie Lawrence, 23 Perry Humphreys

Venue: Twickenham Stoop
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Referee: Matthew Carley
Assistant referees: John Meredith, Gareth Holsgrove
TMO: David Rose


London Irish v Leicester Tigers

London Irish has named their squad to host Leicester Tigers in Round 4 of the Premiership on Sunday, with Waisake Naholo set to make his debut.

The Exiles have made two changes to the starting XV from last week’s narrow defeat to Saracens, with the All Blacks wing and Terrence Hepetema coming into the side.

The front-row of Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi, Saia Fainga’a and Ollie Hoskins keep their starting roles.

Ruan Botha and Franco van der Merwe continue their partnership in the second-row, with Van der Merwe captaining the side.

Blair Cowan and TJ Ioane are named in the flanker positions, with Fiji international Albert Tuisue given the number eight jersey.

Ben Meehan starts at scrum-half and is joined by Stephen Myler at fly-half. At centre Hepetema returns to the starting line-up to link up with Curtis Rona.

Ben Loader starts on one wing and New Zealand international Naholo makes his London Irish debut on the other wing. Paddy Jackson completes the team at full-back.

Australia international Nick Phipps is named amongst the replacements and, if required as a substitute, he will make his debut for the Exiles.

Meanwhile, back-rower Jordan Taufua will make his Leicester Tigers debut in Sunday’s Premiership game.

Taufua arrived in the country last week after ending his season in New Zealand with a Mitre 10 Cup to go with his Super Rugby title win and goes straight into the Tigers team for the trip to the Madejski Stadium.

He wears the number eight shirt and joins Guy Thompson and Sione Kalamafoni in the Tigers back-row with Hanro Liebenberg ruled out this week.

As well as Liebenberg, Tigers are without Tommy Reffell, Will Spencer and Kyle Eastmond as they work their way back from injury, while Tatafu Polota-Nau is also ruled out.

The teams:

London Irish: 15 Paddy Jackson, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Terrence Hepetema, 11 Ben Loader, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Ben Meehan, 8 Albert Tuisue, 7 TJ Ioane, 6 Blair Cowan, 5 Franco van der Merwe (c), 4 Ruan Botha, 3 Ollie Hoskins, 2 Saia Fainga’a, 1 Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi
Replacements: 16 Motu Matu’u, 17 Allan Dell, 18 Lovejoy Chawatama, 19 George Nott, 20 Matt Rogerson, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Matt Williams, 23 Tom Parton

Leicester Tigers: 15 Jonah Holmes, 14 Adam Thompstone, 13 Andy Forsyth, 12 Tom Hardwick, 11 Jordan Olowofela, 10 Noel Reid, 9 Sam Harrison, 8 Jordan Taufua, 7 Guy Thompson, 6 Sione Kalamafoni, 5 Calum Green, 4 Harry Wells, 3 Joe Heyes, 2 Tom Youngs (c), 1 Greg Bateman
Replacements: 16 Charlie Clare, 17 Facundo Gigena, 18 Nephi Leatigaga, 19 Tomás Lavanini, 20 Jordan Coghlan, 21 Ben White, 22 George Worth, 23 Sam Aspland-Robinson

Venue: Madejski Stadium
Kick-off: 14:30 GMT
Referee: JP Doyle
Assistant referees: Andrew Jackson, Paul Dix
TMO: Sean Davey

Exeter Chiefs v Bristol Bears

Exeter Chiefs director of rugby Rob Baxter has been buoyed by the return of four more of his players following the culmination of the Rugby World Cup.

Welshman Tomas Francis is back after nursing a shoulder injury sustained in the semi-final against South Africa, whilst English trio Luke Cowan-Dickie, Jack Nowell and Henry Slade are just nursing the wounds of narrowly missing out on lifting the William Webb Ellis Cup.

All three, however, will get the chance to get back into the rugby groove immediately as Baxter has thrust them all into his matchday squad for Sunday. Slade will start in the centre alongside Sam Hill, whilst Cornish pair Cowan-Dickie and Nowell are named amongst the replacements.

Other changes to the Chiefs line-up from a week ago see Jannes Kirsten come into the second-row in place of Dave Dennis, who has a foot injury. Sam Simmonds is back at number eight, so the back-row is re-jigged with Dave Ewers the man to miss out on this occasion.

Behind the scrum, Aussie Nic White comes in for his first start of the season, whilst summer signing Stuart Hogg is poised to make his Sandy Park bow for the Chiefs, having featured twice already on the road against Bath and Worcester.

Alongside Cowan-Dickie and Nowell, there is also a welcome return to first-team duties for Don Armand, who has yet to feature this term following summer surgery.

Meanwhile, Harry Randall will make his first Premiership start of the campaign as Bristol Bears travel to Exeter Chiefs.

The scrum-half is one of three changes to Pat Lam’s side ahead of the Sandy Park clash.

Harry Thacker is named in the front-row in the only change to the pack, while Will Hurrell comes into the midfield with Piers O’Conor switching to the wing.

England U20s hooker Will Capon and winger Toby Fricker are listed among the replacements and could make their Premiership debuts for the club if they feature.

The teams:

Exeter Chiefs: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Tom O’Flaherty, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Sam Hill, 11 Alex Cuthbert, 10 Joe Simmonds, 9 Nic White, 8 Sam Simmonds, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Jacques Vermeulen, 5 Jonny Hill, 4 Jannes Kirsten, 3 Harry Williams, 2 Jack Yeandle (c), 1 Alec Hepburn
Replacements: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Billy Keast, 18 Marcus Street, 19 Sean Lonsdale, 20 Don Armand, 21 Jack Maunder, 22 Gareth Steenson, 23 Jack Nowell

Bristol Bears: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Will Hurrell, 12 Siale Piutau, 11 Piers O’Conor, 10 Callum Sheedy, 9 Harry Randall, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 Jake Heenan, 6 Steven Luatua (c), 5 Chris Vui, 4 Dave Attwood, 3 John Afoa, 2 Harry Thacker, 1 Jake Woolmore
Replacements: 16 Will Capon, 17 Yann Thomas, 18 Lewis Thiede, 19 Ed Holmes, 20 Dan Thomas, 21 Andy Uren, 22 Ioan Lloyd, 23 Toby Fricker

Venue: Sandy Park
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Referee: Karl Dickson
Assistant referees: Simon Harding, Jonathan Healy
TMO: Keith Lewis