Preview: Clubs prepare for Premiership Rugby Cup round three
The Premiership Rugby Cup returns for its third instalment this weekend with the sides jostling for a chance to reach the semi-finals and the competition heating up week on week.
Gloucester Rugby and Northampton Saints face off in front of the BT Sport cameras tonight with the chance to top Pool 3 up for grabs, while there’s a stunning Saturday afternoon showdown between Anglo-Welsh Cup champions Exeter Chiefs and Harlequins also incoming.
Here’s the full rundown on what to expect this weekend.
Gloucester targeting return to winning ways
Gloucester were narrowly edged out against Bristol Bears last Friday after making the perfect start to their domestic cup season against Wasps.
But Johan Ackermann’s side are a totally different prospect at home and have only tasted defeat once this season at Kingsholm when they lost to Harlequins in September.
Contrastingly, Northampton lead the way at the top of Pool 3 and have made the perfect start to their cup campaign with successive victories over Bristol Bears and Wasps.
The two sides have already met once this season in the league when the Cherry and Whites hosted Northampton Saints on the opening day of the season.
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Gloucester triumphed on that occasion with Danny Cipriani playing a starring role in the 27-16 victory, with the home fans hoping for more magic this weekend.
Sharks hoping to tame the Tigers
It would take a big effort for Sale Sharks to advance to the semi-finals, with Worcester Warriors going so well in their group, but the Manchester-based club are no stranger to miraculous efforts.
The Sharks sit on two points in Pool 2 after recording a tense 15-15 draw with Saracens last week, while Leicester Tigers are yet to gain their first Premiership Rugby Cup win.
The two sides have already met once this campaign, with the Tigers edging a 19-15 Gallagher Premiership Rugby victory as George Ford registered 14 points on the day.
— Sale Sharks🦈 (@SaleSharksRugby) November 8, 2018
Falcons have it all to play for against Bath
An intriguing battle has broken out in Pool A with Newcastle Falcons and Exeter Chiefs both sitting on six points at the top of the table.
The Falcons have been pegged back to second place by virtue of points scored but they have the chance to make top spot their own when they host Bath Rugby tonight.
Dean Richards’ men reigned supreme last time out in a narrow victory over Harlequins thanks to Tim Swiel’s late penalty against his old club, while Bath lost 25-18 against Exeter.
TEAM NEWS: Sinoti Sinoti is among the returning stars for Newcastle Falcons as they make nine changes for tomorrow night’s Premiership Rugby Cup visit of @bathrugby to Kingston Park Stadium https://t.co/rtCbSnF1lm pic.twitter.com/obNugKu1hg
— Newcastle Falcons (@FalconsRugby) November 8, 2018
Chiefs take on Quins
Exeter Chiefs have the chance to cement their place at the top of Pool 1 with victory over Harlequins and will also hope that Newcastle Falcons don’t outscore Todd Blackadder’s men.
While Harlequins know that if results go their way and they are able to claim a win over Exeter, they too can progress as pool winners.
Both sides have one victory to their name in the competition with both teams beating Bath, but there’s all to play for when they meet on Saturday at 3pm.
Top two fight to advance
Worcester Warriors are the only side in the competition to have claimed bonus point victories in both the games they’ve played this season, beating Sale Sharks and Leicester Tigers in the process.
They were unstoppable last time out in a 31-12 victory at Welford Road as Bryce Heem scored two tries – his side wrapping up a bonus point after 28 minutes.
— Worcester Warriors ⚔️ (@WorcsWarriors) 8 November 2018
But Gallagher Premiership leaders Saracens are an altogether different test and they still have the chance to top the pool if they can record a bonus point victory themselves – an interesting challenge awaits on Sunday at 3pm as Worcester travel to Allianz Park.
Bears hope for successive wins
Bristol Bears have a chance to go to the top of Pool 3 when they take on Wasps on Sunday.
They require Northampton to slip up and Pat Lam’s side to score a bonus point victory, but anything is possible in the magic of the cup.
Wasps are yet to claim a Premiership Rugby Cup victory after their first two round losses against Gloucester and Northampton.