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Premiership Rugby

Aviva Premiership Rugby returns

Aviva Premiership Rugby returns

The focus shifts to Aviva Premiership Rugby this weekend with the top of the table as keenly contested as ever.

With matches postponed over Christmas some teams have just five matches left to play, whilst Bath Rugby and Gloucester Rugby have seven matches left to stake their claim for the Aviva Premiership Rugby semi-final.

Gloucester Rugby travel to The Twickenham Stoop on Saturday fresh from their Anglo-Welsh Cup Final win over Newcastle Falcons. The Cherry and Whites have won 11 consecutive matches in all competitions, but have not won at the Stoop since 2006.

Quins welcome back England duo Danny Care and Nick Easter, but Mike Tindall will miss the rest of the season for Gloucester after picking up an injury in England’s win over Scotland.

Below senior England level, prop Joe Marler continues to impress for Quins, whilst former England under 20 wing Charlie Sharples has five tries in his last two matches for Gloucester and scored against Quins when they met at Kingsholm in October.

Despite Director of Rugby Conor O’Shea writing off their chances of a top four place, Quins sit just four points behind fourth placed Northampton Saints.

Bath Rugby in fifth place host their perennial rivals, the reigning Champions and current league leaders Leicester Tigers at The Recreation Ground on Saturday.

Both teams have enjoyed a break from competitive action in recent weeks and both will be keen to bounce back from defeat in their last Aviva Premiership Rugby match; Bath away to Gloucester Rugby at Kingsholm and Leicester Tigers at home to second placed Saracens.

Bath could name England centre pairing Shontayne Hape and Matt Banahan for the match, whilst Leicester could counter with the England half back pair Ben Youngs and Toby Flood, with promising centre and England Saxon Manu Tuiliagi topping the Aviva Premiership Rugby scoring charts with seven tries this season to date. Leicester Academy graduates Tom Croft and Louis Deacon could both return in the pack

Northampton Saints returned to winning ways against Leeds Carnegie last week and in doing so, reclaimed a top four spot. They play on Sunday at Franklin’s Gardens against London Wasps, with Chris Ashton, Ben Foden, club captain Dylan Hartley and Tom Wood keen to return to action for their club and help them achieve success in both domestic and European competitions. Youngsters Courtney Lawes and Calum Clark helped the Saints to victory last week, with Clark playing against his former club..

Second placed Saracens play in the other Sunday match a fortnight after their win over Leicester Tigers at Welford Road.

Full back Alex Goode kicked all 15 points that day, with Owen Farrell notching his tenth Premiership Rugby appearance and young loose forward Andy Saull his 50th despite being still just 22 years of age.

The full Aviva Premiership Rugby programme is available on www.premiershiprugby.com

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