Here are our previews of Round 2 of the Gallagher Premiership, kicking off Friday night.
After a thrilling opening weekend of Premiership Rugby, and the first coach sacking of the season, we look ahead to all the Round 2 action this weekend.
Here are our previews:
Friday September 7
Northampton Saints v Harlequins (Franklin’s Gardens, 22.45 UAE time)
Referee: Tom Foley (53rd Premiership game).
Northampton slipped up at Gloucester on Saturday and have not begun a season with a pair of defeats in rounds 1 and 2 since 2003/04. The Saints have won three of their last five home games in Premiership Rugby, the defeats being to Sale and Saracens in March and April.
Harlequins 51-23 home win over Sale Sharks ended a five-game losing run in Premiership Rugby. The Londoners have not won their opening two games in the tournament since season 2012/13 whilst their most recent away victory in Premiership Rugby came at Wasps in round 3 last year.
The last five meetings between the two have all been won by the home side on the day with ‘Quins most recent victory at Franklin’s Gardens coming in December 2012.
Marcus Smith is on a streak of seven successive successful kicks at goal.
Saturday September 8
Wasps v Exeter Chiefs (Ricoh Arena, 17:00 UAE time)
Referee: Christophe Ridley (7th Premiership game).
Wasps only defeat in their last five Gallagher Premiership Rugby fixtures was in last season’s semi-final to Saracens at Allianz Park. Wasps have won their opening two games of the season for the past two years. Wasps only defeat at the Ricoh Arena in Premiership Rugby since last October was to Saracens on January 7.
Exeter only defeat since mid-February in any competition was in last season’s Premiership Rugby final to Saracens at Twickenham Stadium. The Chiefs have won their last three away games since they tripped up at Wasps in round 15 last season.
Overall in Premiership Rugby the two clubs have met on 18 previous occasions with Exeter winning twelve, Wasps five and one game drawn. The Devonians only previous victory at Ricoh Arena was 41-27 in December 2015.
Leicester Tigers v Newcastle Falcons (Welford Road, 18:00 UAE time)
Referee: Matthew Carley (76th Premiership game).
Leicester Tigers only victory in their last four Premiership Rugby fixtures was at Sale in round 22 last season. 2017-18 began with a pair of defeats for the Tigers, the only previous time this has occurred in Premiership Rugby history.
The Tigers, no longer with Matt O’Connor at the helm, have lost their last two home games in the tournaments, to Northampton and Newcastle, and have only once before lost three in a row at Welford Road in Premiership Rugby – at the start of the 2011/12 campaign.
Newcastle Falcons have lost their last three Premiership Rugby matches since beating Leicester at Welford Road in April – their only victory in their last five away games in all tournaments.
The Falcons have won just two of their last 17 encounters with Leicester, at Kingston Park in February 2016 and Welford Road in April.
Sione Kalamafoni has played 99 Premiership matches.
Saracens v Bristol Bears (Allianz Park, 18:00 UAE time)
Referee: Andrew Jackson (15th Premiership game).
Saracens have won their last eight Gallagher Premiership Rugby matches, scoring at least four tries in each of the last seven. Saracens have lost just once at Allianz Park in Premiership Rugby since November: to Leicester in February.
Bristol Bears have won their last six competition matches since tripping up at home to Jersey Reds in last year’s RFU Championship. Bristol’s most recent away game in Premiership Rugby was also at Allianz Park, losing 9-27 there to Saracens in April 2017.
Saracens have won their last five fixtures against Bristol in Premiership Rugby since the Bears 18-3 win at Memorial Stadium in January 2008.
David Strettle is on 49 Premiership tries
Richard Wigglesworth is on 263 Premiership appearances, two behind record holder Steve Borthwick.
Bath Rugby v Gloucester Rugby (Recreation Ground, 22.30 UAE time)
Referee: Luke Pearce (77th Premiership game).
Bath Rugby have won just two of their last seven Gallagher Premiership Rugby matches, at Gloucester in April and at home to London Irish in May. Bath have not lost their opening two matches of a Premiership Rugby campaign since 2009/10.
Gloucester beat Northampton 27-16 at Kingsholm in round 1 but have not won their opening two fixtures of a season since 2007-08. Gloucester’s only victory in their last six away games in Premiership Rugby was on a visit to London Irish in March. Each side won its respective away game when the two sides met last season. Gloucester have won just once in their last four visits to the Recreation Ground in all competitions.
Sunday September 9
Sale Sharks v Worcester Warriors (AJ Bell Stadium, 18:00 UAE time)
Referee: JP Doyle (154th Premiership game).
Sale Sharks slipped to a fourth successive Gallagher Premiership Rugby defat at Harlequins on Saturday. The Sharks two defeats in their last seven Premiership Rugby encounters at AJ Bell Stadium were to Saracens in round 15 and Leicester in round 22 last season.
Worcester Warriors have won just two of their last eight Gallagher Premiership Rugby matches, both at home in April, to Newcastle and Harlequins. The Warriors won just twice on the road in the competition last season, at Leicester in November and at Exeter in February.
Sale have lost only one of their last nine fixtures with Worcester in Premiership Rugby, at Sixways in February 2016, whilst the last time that Warriors won on Sharks soil was at Edgeley Park in November 2008.