Premiership: Billy Vunipola hits 150 for Saracens, Matt Kvesic back for Worcester

·10-min read
 Credit: PA Images
Credit: PA Images

Round 24 of the Premiership season is upon us and we bring you all the team news and predictions for the games, including Leicester Tigers v Bristol Bears.

Check on the line-ups and our calls for the weekend’s matches below.

Friday

Northampton Saints v Harlequins

Form: Northampton Saints have won their last four Premiership Rugby fixtures since their 30-35 defeat at Gloucester in Round 19. Saints have not won five in succession in the competition since 2014/15. Saints have won their last three matches at cinch Stadium in all competitions and have not won four in succession at the famous old venue since 2019. Harlequins have won their last six Premiership Rugby encounters since their 10-19 defeat at Saracens in Round 16. The Londoners have not won seven in a row in the competition since 2012. Harlequins have won their last four Premiership Rugby fixtures against Northampton, their best ever sequence against the Saints. Harlequins 49-29 win on their most recent visit to Franklin’s Gardens in November 2020 ended a nine-game losing run at the venue in all competitions. Quins have never won successive Premiership Rugby fixtures at the stadium.

Prediction: Harlequins by 7

The teams:

Northampton Saints: 15 George Furbank, 14 Matt Proctor, 13 Fraser Dingwall, 12 Rory Hutchinson, 11 Tommy Freeman, 10 James Grayson, 9 Alex Mitchell, 8 Juarno Augustus, 7 Lewis Ludlam (c), 6 Courtney Lawes, 5 Api Ratuniyarawa, 4 Alex Coles, 3 Conor Carey, 2 Mike Haywood, 1 Emmanuel Iyogun
Replacements:
16 James Fish, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Paul Hill, 19 Alex Moon, 20 Aaron Hinkley, 21 Tom James, 22 Piers Francis, 23 Ollie Sleightholme

Harlequins: 15 Huw Jones, 14 Louis Lynagh, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Cadan Murley, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Danny Care, 8 Alex Dombrandt, 7 Tom Lawday, 6 Stephan Lewies (c), 5 Hugh Tizard, 4 Matt Symons, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Jack Walker, 1 Simon Kerrod
Replacements:
16 Jack Musk, 17 Santiago Garcia Botta, 18 Will Collier, 19 James Chisholm, 20 Luke Wallace, 21 Lewis Gjaltema, 22 Tommy Allan, 23 Nick David

Venue: cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens
Kick-off: 19:45 BST (18:45 GMT)
Referee: Matthew Carley
Assistant referees: Greg Macdonald, Wayne Falla
TMO: Rowan Kitt

Sale Sharks v Newcastle Falcons

Form: Sale Sharks have won just one of their last five Premiership Rugby matches: 26-24 at home to Gloucester on 12 March. The Sharks have lost their last three matches at AJ Bell Stadium in all competitions and have not lost four in a row at the venue since 2016/17. Newcastle Falcons have won just once in Premiership Rugby since their walkover in Round 11: 45-10 at Worcester on 2 April. The Falcons have not won successive away games in the competition since 2020. The two clubs should have met in Round 11 at Kingston Park, but the match was declared a Newcastle victory due to Covid. Sale have beaten Newcastle in Premiership Rugby just once since 2018: 31-16at AJ Bell Stadium in March 2021. The Falcons have won on two of their seven previous visits to Salford in Premiership Rugby (in 2013 and 2017).

Prediction: Sale by 10

The teams:

Sale Sharks: 15 Luke James, 14 Tom Roebuck, 13 Sam James, 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11 Jack Metcalf, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Dan du Preez, 7 Ben Curry, 6 Jean-Luc du Preez, 5 JP du Preez, 4 Cobus Wiese, 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Akker van der Merwe, 1 Bevan Rodd
Replacements:
16 Ewan Ashman, 17 Simon McIntyre, 18 Joe Jones, 19 Matt Postlethwaite, 20 Tom Curry, 21 Gus Warr, 22 Connor Doherty, 23 Simon Hammersley

Newcastle Falcons: 15 Alex Tait, 14 Adam Radwan, 13 Ben Stevenson, 12 Matias Orlando, 11 Mateo Carreras, 10 Joel Hodgson, 9 Cameron Nordli-Kelemeti, 8 Callum Chick, 7 Will Welch (c), 6 Gary Graham, 5 Sean Robinson, 4 Philip van der Walt, 3 Richard Palframan, 2 George McGuigan, 1 Trevor Davison
Replacements:
16 Jamie Blamire, 17 Kyle Cooper, 18 Mark Tampin, 19 George Merrick, 20 Carl Fearns, 21 James Blackett, 22 Will Haydon-Wood, 23 Luther Burrell

Venue: AJ Bell Stadium
Kick-off: 19:45 BST (18:45 GMT)
Referee: Jack Makepeace
Assistant referees: Alex Thomas, Gareth Holsgrove
TMO: Hamish Smales

Saturday

Gloucester v Bath

Form: Gloucester Rugby’s only victory in Premiership Rugby since Round 19 was a declared win, 20-0, against Worcester at the end of March although the Cherry and Whites have picked up three losing bonus points in their last three defeats. Gloucester lost their most recent home game in Premiership Rugby 21-27 to Wasps in Round 22 ending a three-game winning run at the venue. Bath Rugby have lost their last two Premiership Rugby matches since their 24-24 draw with Sale at the Recreation Ground on 26 March. Bath’s only victory on the road in any competition this season was 30-25 at Newcastle in Round 18 of Premiership Rugby. Gloucester beat Bath 40-20 at the Rec in Round 11 and have not achieved a Premiership Rugby season’s double over their close rivals since 2011/12. Excluding unplayed matches, Bath have won on seven of their last eleven visits to Kingsholm in all competitions.

Prediction: Gloucester by 10

The teams:

Gloucester: 15 Santiago Carreras, 14 Louis Rees-Zammit, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Mark Atkinson, 11 Ollie Thorley, 10 Adam Hastings, 9 Charlie Chapman, 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Lewis Ludlow, 6 Ruan Ackermann, 5 Matias Alemanno, 4 Freddie Clarke, 3 Kirill Gotovtsev, 2 Jack Singleton, 1 Harry Elrington
Replacements: 16 Santiago Socino, 17 Jamal Ford-Robinson, 18 Fraser Balmain, 19 Andrew Davidson, 20 Jordy Reid, 21 Ben Meehan, 22 Billy Twelvetrees, 23 Tom Seabrook

Bath: 15 Tom de Glanville, 14 Joe Cokanasiga, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Max Clark, 11 Will Muir, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Ben Spencer, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Miles Reid, 5 Charlie Ewels (c), 4 Mike Williams, 3 Will Stuart, 2 Tom Dunn, 1 Valeriy Morozov
Replacements: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Arthur Cordwell, 18 Ma’afu Fia, 19 Ewan Richards, 20 Jaco Coetzee, 21 Ollie Fox, 22 Orlando Bailey, 23 Will Butt

Venue: Kingsholm
Kick-off: 15:00 BST (14:00 GMT)
Referee: Christophe Ridley
Assistant referees: Joe James, Jonathan Healy
TMO: Tom Foley

Leicester Tigers v Bristol Bears

Form: Leicester Tigers have lost just two of their last eight Premiership Rugby fixtures, both away from home, at Saracens in Round 19 and at Harlequins in Round 23. The Tigers have won their last 15 matches at Mattioli Woods Welford Road in all competitions since today’s opponents, Bristol, beat them there last June. Bristol Bears’ home victory against Gloucester by a solitary point ended a four-game losing run in Premiership Rugby. The Bears’ only away win in Premiership Rugby this season was 45-33 against London Irish on 30 October. Leicester beat Bristol 28-26 at Ashton Gate on Boxing Day and have not achieved a Premiership Rugby season’s double over the Bears since 2016/17. Bristol beat Leicester 26-23 on their most recent visit to Welford Road and have not achieved back-to-back wins at the venue since 1964-65.

Prediction: Leicester by 7

The teams:

Leicester Tigers: 15 Freddie Steward, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Matías Moroni, 12 Guy Porter, 11 Harry Potter, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Tommy Reffell, 6 Hanro Liebenberg, 5 Calum Green, 4 Harry Wells, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Julián Montoya, 1 Ellis Genge (c)
Replacements: 16 Charlie Clare, 17 James Whitcombe, 18 Joe Heyes, 19 Eli Snyman, 20 Olly Robinson, 21 Richard Wigglesworth, 22 Freddie Burns, 23 Nemani Nadolo

Bristol: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Toby Fricker, 13 Jack Bates, 12 Piers O’Conor, 11 Henry Purdy, 10 Callum Sheedy, 9 Harry Randall, 8 Fitz Harding, 7 Sam Jeffries, 6 Steven Luatua (c), 5 Chris Vui, 4 Joe Joyce, 3 John Afoa, 2 Harry Thacker, 1 Jake Woolmore
Replacements: 16 Will Capon, 17 Jono Benz-Salomon, 18 Jake Armstrong, 19 John Hawkins, 20 Dan Thomas, 21 Andy Uren, 22 Ioan Lloyd, 23 Alapati Leiua

Venue: Mattioli Woods Welford Road Stadium
Kick-off: 15:00 BST (14:00 GMT)
Referee: Karl Dickson
Assistant referees: Neil Chivers, John Meredith
TMO: David Rose

Worcester Warriors v Saracens

Form: Worcester Warriors’ most recent victory in Premiership Rugby was 35-31 at home to Exeter on 12 March. The Warriors record at Sixways in Premiership Rugby this season is won five, lost five. Saracens have won their last five Premiership Rugby encounters since their 30-32 reversal at London Irish in Round 17. Saracens have not won six in a row in the competition since 2018. Saracens have won three of their last four away games in all tournaments. The last six meetings between the two clubs in Premiership Rugby have all gone the way of home field advantage whilst Saracens most recent victory at Sixways in the tournament was in September 2017. The last six Premiership games between Worcester Warriors and Saracens have been won by the home team on the day; Saracens won the reverse of this fixture earlier in the season (29-61 in Round 11), however, neither side has completed the double over the other since the 2017/2018 campaign, when Sarries won both games.

Prediction: Saracens by 17

The teams:

Worcester Warriors: 15 Noah Heward, 14 Perry Humphreys, 13 Oli Morris, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Tom Howe, 10 Fin Smith, 9 Gareth Simpson, 8 Matt Kvesic, 7 Ted Hill (C), 6 Kyle Hatherell, 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 Joe Batley, 3 Christian Judge, 2 Niall Annett, 1 Rory Sutherland Replacements: 16 Isaac Miller, 17 Ethan Waller, 18 Murray McCallum, 19 Andrew Kitchener, 20 Sam Lewis, 21 Will Chudley, 22 Billy Searle, 23 Ashley Beck

Saracens: 15 Max Malins, 14 Rotimi Según, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Nick Tompkins, 11 Sean Maitland, 10 Owen Farrell (c), 9 Aled Davies, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Ben Earl, 6 Andy Christie, 5 Theo McFarland, 4 Nick Isiekwe, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Jamie George, 1 Eroni Mawi Replacements: 16 Kapeli Pifeleti, 17 Richard Barrington, 18 Alec Clarey, 19 Callum Hunter-Hill, 20 Jackson Wray, 21 Ivan van Zyl, 22 Manu Vunipola, 23 Duncan Taylor

Venue: Sixways
Kick-off: 15:00 BST (14:00 GMT)
Referee: Anthony Woodthorpe
Assistant referees: Andrew Jackson, Paul Dix
TMO: Stuart Terheege

Sunday

London Irish v Wasps

Form: London Irish’s 42-14 victory at Newcastle last Friday ended a three-game losing run in Premiership Rugby. The Exiles have lost their last two home games at Brentford Community Stadium in Premiership Rugby since beating Worcester there, 43-12, in early March. Wasps have won their last six matches in all competitions since their 22-27 defeat at Northampton in Round 20 of Premiership Rugby. Wasps have won their last three away games in all tournaments and have not won four in succession on their travels since 2020. Wasps beat London Irish 38-30 in Coventry in Round 11 and have not achieved a Premiership Rugby season’s double over the Londoners since 2017/18. Wasps won 39-36 on their only previous visit to Brentford in June 2021.

Prediction: Wasps by 6

The teams:

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 Sean O’Brien, 7 Tom Pearson, 6 Matt Rogerson (c), 5 Rob Simmons, 4 George Nott, 3 Ollie Hoskins, 2 Agustin Creevy, 1 Will Goodrick-Clarke Replacements: 16 Matt Cornish, 17 Facundo Gigena, 18 Ciaran Parker, 19 Steve Mafi, 20 Albert Tuisue, 21 Ben White, 22 Will Joseph, 23 Henry Arundell

Wasps: 15 Zach Kibirige, 14 Francois Hougaard, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Jimmy Gopperth, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Charlie Atkinson, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Tom Willis, 7 Jack Willis, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Elliott Stooke, 4 Joe Launchbury (c), 3 Biyi Alo, 2 Gabriel Oghre, 1 Tom West Replacements: 16 Dan Frost, 17 Ben Harris, 18 Elliot Millar-Mills, 19 James Gaskell, 20 Thomas Young, 21 Will Porter, 22 Jacob Umaga, 23 Paolo Odogwu

Venue: Brentford Community Stadium
Kick-off: 15:00 BST (14:00 GMT)
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Assistant referees: Mike Hudson, Rob Warburton
TMO: Dean Richards

READ MORE: Piers Francis: England international swaps Northampton Saints for Bath

The article Premiership: Billy Vunipola hits 150 for Saracens, Matt Kvesic back for Worcester appeared first on Planetrugby.com.

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