Round Six of the Premiership kicks off with two tasty games on Friday as Bath take on Wasps while Sale Sharks play host to Worcester Warriors.
Bath v Wasps
Tom de Glanville returns to action and is the only change to the Bath side looking to overturn Wasps in the Premiership on Friday.
Director of rugby Stuart Hooper makes just the one change to the side that faced Leicester just five days ago with De Glanville coming in at full-back.
With the 21-year-old back in the starting XV, Anthony Watson moves to the wing, replacing Semesa Rokoduguni.
The forward pack remains unchanged with Beno Obano, Tom Dunn and Will Stuart making up the front-row. Captain Charlie Ewels and Josh McNally start at lock with Taulupe Faletau on blindside, Sam Underhill on openside and Zach Mercer in at number eight.
Rhys Priestland and Ben Spencer continue their partnership at fly-half and scrum-half respectively with Cameron Redpath and Jonathan Joseph outside them in midfield.
Ruaridh McConnochie joins Watson on the opposite wing with De Glanville making up the backfield.
Meanwhile, Wasps head coach Lee Blackett has made just one personnel change to the starting XV that beat Exeter Chiefs last time out.
Thomas Young comes back into the starting side at openside flanker. That move sees Jack Willis switch to number eight, replacing brother Tom Willis, who shifts to the bench.
Joining Tom Willis amongst the replacements there are welcome returns from injury for Brad Shields and Marcus Watson, who if brought on will make his 50th appearance for Wasps.
Form: Bath Rugby’s only victory (excluding the unplayed match against London Irish) in their last six Premiership matches was 33-17 at Worcester in Round 3. Bath have lost their last two matches at the Recreation Ground, 12-19 to Newcastle in Gallagher Premiership Rugby and 19-23 to Scarlets in the European Champions Cup. Wasps have won their last four matches in all tournaments since their 17-27 reversal at home to Newcastle in Round 3 of Gallagher Premiership Rugby. Wasps have lost just once on the road in any tournament since February: 24-40 at Gloucester on 28 November. Wasps completed a Premiership Rugby season double over Bath in 2019/20, something they hadn’t achieved since 2017. Wasps have been victorious on five of their last seven appearances to the Rec in all competitions.
Bath: 15 Tom de Glanville, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Cameron Redpath, 11 Ruaridh McConnochie, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Ben Spencer, 8 Zach Mercer, 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Taulupe Faletau, 5 Charlie Ewels (c), 4 Josh McNally, 3 Will Stuart, 2 Tom Dunn, 1 Beno Obano
Replacements: 16 Jack Walker, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Christian Judge, 19 Elliott Stooke, 20 Josh Bayliss, 21 Will Chudley, 22 Josh Matavesi, 23 Gabriel Hamer-Webb
Wasps: 15 Lima Sopoaga, 14 Paolo Odogwu, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Michael Le Bourgeois, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Jacob Umaga, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Jack Willis, 7 Thomas Young, 6 James Gaskell, 5 Will Rowlands, 4 Joe Launchbury (c), 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Tom Cruse, 1 Tom West
Replacements: 16 Tommy Taylor, 17 Simon McIntyre, 18 Jeff Toomaga-Allen, 19 Brad Shields, 20 Tom Willis, 21 Will Porter, 22 Jimmy Gopperth, 23 Marcus Watson
Venue: Recreation Ground
Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
Referee: Matthew Carley
Assistant Referees: Greg Macdonald, Gareth Holsgrove
TMO: Tom Foley
ʟᴀꜱᴛ ᴛɪᴍᴇ ᴏᴜᴛ
— Bath Rugby (@BathRugby) January 6, 2021
Sale Sharks v Worcester Warriors
Sale Sharks have named their squad as they prepare to host Worcester Warriors at the AJ Bell Stadium on Friday.
Head coach Paul Deacon makes just one change his matchday squad as Josh Beaumont returns at number eight to make his first start for the Sharks after 14 months on the sidelines.
Academy prospect Bevan Rodd continues to impress the Sale coaching team at loosehead prop and is rewarded with yet another Premiership start against Worcester. 20-year-old Rodd is surrounded by South African talent as Akker van der Merwe and Coenie Oosthuizen line up alongside him in the front-row with Cobus Wiese and JP du Preez providing power behind them in the second-row.
Jono Ross captains the side from blindside flanker and is joined in the back-row by Tom Curry and Beaumont.
Faf de Klerk and AJ MacGinty marshal an unchanged backline that includes Sam Hill and Robert du Preez in the midfield along with England U20 wing Tom Roebuck, Marland Yarde and Sam James in the back three.
Curtis Langdon, Jake Cooper-Woolley and Valery Morozov cover the front-row with James Phillips returning to the bench in place of Beaumont. Sam Dugdale continues to add impressive energy to the Sharks cause as a replacement and is named in the Sale squad for the fourth consecutive match by Deacon. Will Cliff, Luke James and Byron McGuigan cover the backs.
Meanwhile, former England full-back Chris Pennell will make his first Premiership appearance of the season for Warriors against Sale Sharks.
Pennell, who played in last month’s European Challenge Cup match in Pau, will start against Sale as Melani Nanai has been ruled out by a hamstring injury sustained in training.
It will be Pennell’s 248th appearance for Warriors in an illustrious career that began in 2007 and move him closer to becoming only the second player after Craig Gillies (288) to play 250 senior matches for the club.
Oli Morris will start in the centre in the other change to the back division that played in the Boxing Day match against Northampton Saints. England international Ollie Lawrence misses out with a shoulder injury.
The third enforced change in the backs is at fly-half where Duncan Weir will start in place of Billy Searle who misses out because of a calf injury.
Weir will make his second appearance of the season since returning from international duty with Scotland.
There are two changes in the pack with Anton Bresler returning to partner Justin Clegg in the second-row.
Former England international Matt Kvesic, who was a late withdrawal against Northampton due to sickness, is fit and he returns at openside with Marco Mama switching to number eight.
Hooker Isaac Miller has also recovered from sickness and has been named among the replacements.
The previous game between the two teams was cancelled after an outbreak of Covid at the Sharks, ending Sale’s play-off hopes in 2019/20.
Form: Sale Sharks’ three-game losing run in all competitions ended with their late comeback win at Gloucester last weekend. The Sharks were narrowly defeated by Wasps on their most recent appearance at AJ Bell Stadium, and excluding walkovers have not lost back to back encounters at the venue in Gallagher Premiership Rugby since New Year 2017. Worcester Warriors were awarded a victory over Harlequins last weekend, but on the pitch, they have been defeated in their last five fixtures in all tournaments. The Warriors have won only once away from home in any competitions since November 2019: 40-25 at London Irish in September. Worcester have won their last three matches against Sale in all tournaments, although the two should have met at AJ Bell Stadium in Round 22 last year in a game that was eventually cancelled. Worcester were awarded that match but have been defeated on all nine previous occasions they have actually played at AJ Bell Stadium.
Sale Sharks: 15 Sam James, 14 Tom Roebuck, 13 Robert du Preez, 12 Sam Hill, 11 Marland Yarde, 10 AJ MacGinty, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Josh Beaumont, 7 Tom Curry, 6 Jono Ross (c), 5 JP du Preez, 4 Cobus Wiese, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Akker van der Merwe, 1 Bevan Rodd
Replacements: 16 Curtis Langdon, 17 Valery Morozov, 18 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 19 James Phillips, 20 Sam Dugdale, 21 Will Cliff, 22 Luke James, 23 Byron McGuigan
Worcester Warriors: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Perry Humphreys, 13 Oli Morris, 12 Ashley Beck, 11 Nick David, 10 Duncan Weir, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Marco Mama, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Ted Hill (c), 5 Justin Clegg, 4 Anton Bresler, 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Niall Annett, 1 Ethan Waller
Replacements: 16 Isaac Miller, 17 Marc Thomas, 18 Richard Palframan, 19 George Merrick, 20 Cornell du Preez, 21 Sam Lewis, 22 Gareth Simpson, 23 Jamie Shillcock
Venue: AJ Bell Stadium
Kick-off: 20:00 GMT
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant Referees: Paul Dix, Jamie Leahy
TMO: Claire Hodnett