Premiership: Dan Biggar back for Northampton Saints against Saracens on farewell weekend for many league stalwarts

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

Round 25 of the Premiership season is upon us and we bring you the team news and predictions for the games, including Harlequins v Leicester Tigers.

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

Friday

Bristol Bears v Exeter Chiefs

Form: Bristol Bears’ only victory in their last six Gallagher Premiership Rugby matches was by the narrowest of margins, 29-28 at home to Gloucester on 22 April. The Bears home record in Premiership Rugby at Ashton Gate this season is won six, lost five. Exeter Chiefs have won just one of their last four Gallagher Premiership Rugby fixtures: 42-22 at home to Bath on 2 April. The Chiefs have won just twice away from home in Premiership Rugby in 2022, 15-14 at Newcastle in Round 17 and 34-31 at Northampton in Round 18. Exeter have lost only two of the nine previous meetings with Bristol in Premiership Rugby, both strangely at Sandy Park in 2019 and 2021. The Chiefs have won on all seven previous visits they have made to Ashton Gate against all opponents in all competitions.

Prediction: Exeter Chiefs by 5

The teams:

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

Exeter Chiefs: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Olly Woodburn, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Ian Whitten, 11 Josh Hodge, 10 Joe Simmonds, 9 Sam Maunder, 8 Jacques Vermeulen, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Dave Ewers, 5 Sam Skinner, 4 Jonny Gray, 3 Harry Williams, 2 Jack Yeandle (c), 1 Alec Hepburn
Replacements: 16 Jack Innard, 17 James Kenny, 18 Patrick Schickerling, 19 Dafydd Jenkins, 20 Santiago Grondona, 21 Stu Townsend, 22 Harvey Skinner, 23 Tom Hendrickson

Venue: Ashton Gate
Kick-off: 19:45 BST (18:45 GMT)
Referee: Luke Pearce
Assistant Referees: Mike Hudson, Phil Watters
TMO: Tom Foley

Wasps v Sale Sharks

Form: Wasps are unbeaten in their last four Gallagher Premiership Rugby matches since their 22-27 defeat at Northampton in Round 20, although they did draw 42-all last time out at London Irish. Wasps have won their last eight fixtures at Coventry Building Society Arena in all tournaments since Munster beat them there in the European Champions Cup on 12 December. Sale Sharks’ last six matches in Gallagher Premiership Rugby have resulted in two wins, two draws and two defeats. The Sharks have won only twice away from home in Premiership Rugby this campaign, in successive trips in February to Harlequins and Northampton. Sale’s only defeat in their last six encounters with Wasps in Premiership Rugby was 23-26 at AJ Bell Stadium in December 2020. The Sharks have won on their last three visits to Coventry.

Prediction: Wasps by 12

The teams:

Wasps: 15 Ali Crossdale, 14 Francois Hougaard, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Jimmy Gopperth, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Charlie Atkinson, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Alfie Barbeary, 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 Robin Hislop, 18 Elliot Millar-Mills, 19 James Gaskell, 20 Tom Willis, 21 Will Porter, 22 Rob Miller, 23 Paolo Odogwu

Sale Sharks: 15 Sam James, 14 Tom Roebuck, 13 Robert du Preez, 12 Manu Tuilagi 11 Arron Reed, 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 Nick Schonert, 2 Akker van der Merwe, 1 Bevan Rodd
Replacements: 16 Ewan Ashman, 17 Simon McIntyre, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 Cobus Wiese, 20 Ben Curry, 21 Gus Warr, 22 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 23 Simon Hammersley

Venue: Coventry Building Society Arena
Kick-off: 19:45 BST (18:45 GMT)
Referee: Ian Tempest
Assistant Referees: Sara Cox, Alex Thomas
TMO: Claire Hodnett

Saturday

Bath v London Irish

Form: Bath have lost their last three Gallagher Premiership Rugby matches since their 24-all draw at home to Sale on 26 March. Since the turn of the New Year Bath’s record at the Recreation Ground in Premiership Rugby is won three, drawn one, lost two. London Irish have scored 42 points in each of their last two Gallagher Premiership Rugby matches, winning at Newcastle in Round 23 and drawing at home to Wasps in Round 24. The Exiles have lost only one of their last four away games in Premiership Rugby: 28-47 at Leicester on 12 March. The two clubs have only met once in Premiership Rugby since August 2020, the 36-33 London Irish victory at Brentford in March 2021. The other two scheduled fixtures were never played due to the health situation. That London Irish victory was their first over Bath in the tournament since one achieved at Madejski Stadium in 2012. The Exiles have not been victorious at the Rec since November 2009.

Prediction: Bath by 5

The teams:

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

London Irish: 15 Tom Parton, 14 Kyle Rowe, 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Benhard van Rensburg, 11 Ben Loader, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Nick Phipps (c), 8 Sean O’Brien, 7 Tom Pearson, 6 Ben Donnell, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 George Nott, 3 Ollie Hoskins, 2 Agustin Creevy, 1 Will Goodrick-Clarke
Replacements: 16 Matt Cornish, 17 Facundo Gigena, 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Chunya Munga, 20 Chandler Cunningham-South, 21 Juan Martin Gonzalez, 22 Ben White, 23 Henry Arundell

Venue: Recreation Ground
Kick-off: 15:00 BST (14:00 GMT)
Referee: Christophe Ridley
Assistant Referees: Nick Wood, Gareth Holsgrove
TMO: Tom Foley

Harlequins v Gloucester

Form: Harlequins’ defeat by a single point at Northampton in Round 24 ended a six-game winning run in Gallagher Premiership Rugby. Harlequins are unbeaten in their last five matches at Twickenham Stadium since London Irish beat them there in the London Double header in 2017 – their only defeat at HQ since 2014. Gloucester won 64-0 last time out at home to Bath in Gallagher Premiership Rugby to end a three-game losing run in matches that were actually played in the tournament. Gloucester have lost their last four away games in Premiership Rugby since beating Newcastle 32-22 at Kingston Park at the end of January. Gloucester are without a win in their last seven visits to Twickenham Stadium since they won the Powergen Cup there, beating Northampton in the final, 40-22 in April 2003. Harlequins have won their last five fixtures with Gloucester in Gallagher Premiership Rugby since the Cherry and Whites 29-7 victory at the Twickenham Stoop in March 2019. Gloucester’s most recent victory at Twickenham Stadium in a competition fixture against Harlequins was 12-6 in the semi final of John Player Cup in 1978. Subsequently the two clubs have drawn 9-all there in Courage League 1 in November 1987 and 39-all in “the Big Game” in 2015. Harlequins won 28-24 on their most recent clash at the famous old venue in “the Big Game” in 2016.

Prediction: Harlequins by 16

The teams:

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 Will Collier, 2 Jack Walker, 1 Simon Kerrod
Replacements: 16 Jack Musk, 17 Joe Marler, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 Matas Jurevicius, 20 Will Evans, 21 Lewis Gjaltema, 22 Tommy Allan, 23 Nick David

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

Venue: Twickenham
Kick-off: 15:00 BST (14:00 GMT)
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Assistant Referees: Jack Makepeace, Rob Warburton
TMO: David Rose

Newcastle Falcons v Leicester Tigers

Form: Newcastle Falcons have lost their last two Gallagher Premiership Rugby matches since beating Worcester at Sixways on 2 April. The Falcons have lost their last six matches at Kingston Park in Premiership Rugby since their walkover against Sale due to Covid on Boxing Day. Leicester Tigers have lost only two of their last nine Gallagher Premiership Rugby fixtures, both away from home, at Saracens in Round 19 and at Harlequins in Round 23. The Tigers have lost four of their last six away games in the competition. Excluding unplayed matches, the Falcons have beaten the Tigers just twice in Premiership Rugby since 2009, 26-14 at Kingston Park in February 2016 and 25-23 at Welford Road in April 2018.

Prediction: Leicester Tigers by 25

The teams:

Newcastle Falcons: 15 Alex Tait, 14 Adam Radwan, 13 Matias Orlando, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 Mateo Carreras, 10 Joel Hodgson, 9 Michael Young, 8 Callum Chick (c), 7 Josh Basham, 6 Gary Graham, 5 Philip van der Walt, 4 Greg Peterson, 3 Trevor Davison, 2 George McGuigan, 1 Adam Brocklebank
Replacements: 16 Jamie Blamire, 17 Logovi’i Mulipola, 18 Mark Tampin, 19 Freddie Lockwood, 20 Carl Fearns, 21 Cameron Nordli-Kelemeti, 22 Will Haydon-Wood, 23 Iwan Stephens

Leicester Tigers: 15 Freddie Steward, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Matías Moroni, 12 Guy Porter, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 George Ford, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Hanro Liebenberg, 6 George Martin, 5 Harry Wells, 4 Ollie Chessum, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Nic Dolly, 1 Ellis Genge (c)
Replacements: 16 Charlie Clare, 17 Nephi Leatigaga, 18 Joe Heyes, 19 Cameron Henderson, 20 Tommy Reffell, 21 Jack van Poortvliet, 22 Freddie Burns, 23 Matt Scott

Venue: Kingston Park
Kick-off: 15:00 BST (14:00 GMT)
Referee: Anthony Woodthorpe
Assistant Referees: Joe James, Wayne Falla
TMO: Hamish Smales

Saracens v Northampton Saints

Form: Saracens have won their last six Gallagher Premiership Rugby matches, and four of those with maximum points, since their 30-32 reversal at London Irish on 19 February. Saracens’ only home defeat in Premiership Rugby since September 2020 was by the narrowest of margins to Gloucester on 8 January 2022. Northampton Saints have won their last five Gallagher Premiership Rugby matches since their 30-35 defeat at Gloucester in Round 19. The Saints have not won six in a row in the tournament since 2014. Northampton’s away record in Premiership Rugby this season is won six, lost five. Saracens have lost only one of their last nine encounters with Northampton in Premiership Rugby: 25-27 on the Saints most recent visit to StoneX Stadium in October 2019.

Prediction: Saracens by 12

The teams:

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Nick Tompkins, 11 Rotimi Según, 10 Owen Farrell (c), 9 Aled Davies, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Ben Earl, 6 Theo McFarland, 5 Nick Isiekwe, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Jamie George, 1 Mako Vunipola
Replacements: 16 Ethan Lewis, 17 Ralph Adams-Hale, 18 Alec Clarey, 19 Callum Hunter-Hill, 20 Jackson Wray, 21 Ivan van Zyl, 22 Alex Lozowski, 23 Alex Lewington

Northampton Saints: 15 George Furbank, 14 Tommy Freeman, 13 Matt Proctor, 12 Fraser Dingwall, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Alex Mitchell, 8 Lewis Ludlam (c), 7 Aaron Hinkley, 6 Courtney Lawes, 5 Api Ratuniyarawa, 4 Alex Coles, 3 Ehren Painter, 2 Mike Haywood, 1 Emmanuel Iyogun
Replacements: 16 Sam Matavesi, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Paul Hill, 19 Alex Moon, 20 Brandon Nansen, 21 Tom James, 22 Rory Hutchinson, 23 Ollie Sleightholme

Venue: StoneX Stadium
Kick-off: 17:30 BST (16:30 GMT)
Referee: Matthew Carley
Assistant Referees: Greg Macdonald, John Meredith
TMO: Dean Richards

READ MORE: Premiership: Semesa Rokoduguni will leave Bath after a decade at the club

The article Premiership: Dan Biggar back for Northampton Saints against Saracens on farewell weekend for many league stalwarts appeared first on Planetrugby.com.

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