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What to look out for in the Aviva Premiership this weekend

What to look out for in the Aviva Premiership this weekend

The Six Nations may be in full swing, but there are also six Aviva Premiership Rugby games this weekend to feast upon.

The weekend’s action kicks off at the Rec on Friday evening as Bath Rugby host Northampton Saints, while Worcester Warriors face a tough 130-mile trip down south to face league leaders Exeter on Saturday.

London Irish will look to build on their recent turn in form for only their second league win this season when they face Sale Sharks, then Wasps travel to Harlequins to conclude the action in Round 14 on Sunday.

Can Bath continue their fine form?

Having won three consecutive matches in all competitions, Bath will be confident hosting a Northampton Saints side that has struggled for consistency.

The Saints will be hopeful of a result given that Bath have lost half of their home league games this season, yet Northampton have themselves only won once on the road in the league since March 2017.

James Wilson starts for Bath against his former side at full-back, while Saints have made four changes to the team that beat Harlequins last weekend with Tom Wood, Rob Horne, Ben Foden and Campese Ma’afu back in the line-up.

Liam Williams returns with a point to prove

Having been fit for selection for Wales’ crucial trip to Twickenham this weekend, Liam Williams was overlooked by head coach Warren Gatland, who chose to stick with the same starting line-up and only bring George North to the bench.

Saracens full back Williams will be looking to force his way back into the Wales squad and showcase the talents that earned him a place in the Lions starting line-up last summer.

Saracens host Newcastle Falcons on Saturday, seeking to close the five-point gap at the top of the table.

Falcons director of rugby Dean Richards has included Ryan Burrows, who joined in the summer of 2017 from Yorkshire Carnegie, in the starting line-up for his first league start while Ally Hogg makes his first start of the season.

How will Warriors fair against champions without top try scorer?

Worcester Warriors travel down to Sandy Park without their flying winger Josh Adams, who is currently the Aviva Premiership’s top try scorer but starts for Wales at Twickenham on Saturday.

The Chiefs have five players out on international duty but come off the back of a 43-20 victory against Saracens in the Anglo-Welsh Cup last weekend and look to extend their lead over Mark McCall’s men in the Aviva Premiership.

Rob Baxter has given a Premiership debut to Argentinian international Santiago Cordero on the right wing, while Dean Hammond replaces Adams for Worcester.

England internationals set to boost Harlequins and Wasps

Harlequins entertain Wasps this weekend and John Kingston’s men have the advantage of Kyle Sinckler coming back from injury.

The tight-head prop has been side-lined with a hamstring injury, but scans this week revealed he would be available to play on Sunday and he will be anxious to prove his fitness to Eddie Jones.

Wasps also have an England forward returning from injury, as Nathan Hughes will start at No.8 at the Stoop and have similar ambitions of forcing his way back into contention for a Six Nations appearance.

Exiles seek their second Aviva Premiership win

London Irish take on Sale Sharks at the Madejski Stadium after tasting victory in their last four outings in all competitions, but have only managed one win in the league so far this season.

The Sharks have lost only once in the last five rounds of Aviva Premiership Rugby, but their only victory on the road in the league since October 2016 was 18-14 at Worcester on 1 December.

Samoan international Teofilo Paulo replaces Mike Coman in the second row for the Exiles, whilst Sale have eight players unavailable for the clash.

Tuilagi back for Tigers

As Leicester Tigers travel to Kingsholm to face Gloucester Rugby, Manu Tuilagi returns to the backline after shaking off a calf problem.

Tigers currently sit in eighth, just six points from Gloucester in fourth, and will be hoping to improve on their 50-28 defeat to Wasps last weekend in the Anglo-Welsh Cup.

Full-back Telusa Veainu is also back from injury, whilst Willi Heinz returns to captain a Gloucester side that features none of the same starting line-up from their Anglo-Welsh Cup defeat to Newcastle Falcons last week.

 

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