Three Saturday clashes to light up Premiership Rugby Cup
We are officially past the halfway stage in the Premiership Rugby Cup pools, with a trio of offerings set to spice up your Saturday in Round 3.
After Worcester Warriors host Exeter Chiefs to kick things off on Friday night, it is the turn of Bath Rugby to welcome Leicester Tigers, Gloucester Rugby to travel to Harlequins and Wasps to make the trip to Sale Sharks.
With all three pools very much hanging in the balance, there are some who will look to consolidate their starts, others who are hoping to get their campaigns back on track, but one thing is for sure: the potential semi-final line-up could look a lot clearer come 5pm on Saturday.
Initiative there to be grasped in Pool 3
By far the tightest of the pools, Bath, Exeter and Leicester all sit level on five points in Pool 3, with Worcester just a point ahead of them.
This clash at The Rec, therefore, could go a long way towards deciding things – and it really is anyone’s to call.
Leicester impressed last time out to down the Chiefs 27-7, while Bath also got off the mark with a 36-28 triumph over Worcester.
The two teams have notched an identical 50 points so far in the competition, with Bath currently possessing of the edge with a narrowly-improved points differential: this really could go either way.
A plethora of new faces are set to make their bows in Bath on Saturday.
For the hosts, summer signing Lewis Boyce and academy graduate Gabriel Hamer-Webb get the nod at loosehead and left wing respectively, while Jack Walker is handed the armband on his return.
OUCH! 😣 pic.twitter.com/H1bBU3bk4d
— Leicester Tigers (@LeicesterTigers) October 4, 2019
Tigers welcome Adam Thompstone back from a long-term injury that cut his 2018/19 season short, with new man Nephi Leatigaga set to feature from the bench.
Bath Rugby: Tom Homer, Levi Davis, Max Clark, Max Wright, Gabriel Hamer-Webb, Freddie Burns, Chris Cook, Lewis Boyce, Jack Walker, Christian Judge, Levi Douglas, Elliott Stooke, Mike Williams, Josh Bayliss, Zach Mercer
Replacements: Tom Dunn, Beno Obano, Sam Nixon, Charlie Ewels, Jack Davies, Will Chudley, Rhys Priestland, Jamie Roberts
Leicester Tigers: Jonah Holmes, Adam Thompstone, Joe Thomas, George Worth, Jordan Olowofela, Tom Hardwick, Ben White, Greg Bateman, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Joe Heyes, Harry Wells, Calum Green, Guy Thompson, Tommy Reffell, Jordan Coghlan
Replacements: Jake Kerr, Facundo Gigena, Nephi Leatigaga, Hanro Liebenberg, Ifereimi Boladau, Harry Simmons, Sam Costelow, Freddie Steward
Top versus bottom at The Stoop
Two teams who have endured and enjoyed completely contrasting starts to this year’s Premiership Rugby Cup do battle in south-west London at 3pm.
While hosts Harlequins have won two from two, beating London Irish and Bristol Bears in an efficient manner, their opponents are thus far winless.
Gloucester may have scored more tries than Paul Gustard’s men, but 69 points conceded leave them with just two points to their name, four shy of Irish in second place and six behind Harlequins.
— Harlequins 🃏 (@Harlequins) October 4, 2019
If they are to have any chance of advancing to the last four, nothing less than a bonus-point win will likely do this time around, while the hosts can wrap up their semi-final berth with victory.
A familiar face is set to make his first appearance of the season at the Stoop, with Harlequins skipper Chris Robshaw named in his customary No.7 jersey.
Gustard makes 12 changes to the starting line-up in all, Scott Baldwin – who arrived from Ospreys in the off-season – among them.
Johan Ackermann, meanwhile, has called on the big guns for the Cherry & Whites, with Ed Slater, Danny Cipriani, Billy Twelvetrees and Franco Marais all coming into the XV.
Harlequins: Mike Brown, Cadan Murley, Joe Marchant, Ben Tapuai, Aaron Morris, Marcus Smith, Martin Landajo, Santiago Garcia Botta, Scott Baldwin, Will Collier, Matt Symons, Stephan Lewies, James Chisholm, Chris Robshaw, Alex Dombrandt
Replacements: Jack Musk, Mark Lambert, Simon Kerrod, Glen Young, Renaldo Bothma, Charlie Mulchrone, James Lang, Travis Ismaiel
Gloucester Rugby:Tom Hudson, Tom Marshall, Billy Twelvetrees, Matt Banahan, Tom Seabrook, Danny Cipriani, Joe Simpson, Val Rapava Ruskin, Franco Marais, Jamal Ford-Robinson, Ed Slater, Gerbrandt Grobler, Lewis Ludlow, Aaron Hinkley, Ruan Ackermann
Replacements:Todd Gleave, Alex Seville, Ciaran Knight, Simon Linsell, Josh Gray, Charlie Chapman, Mark Atkinson, Tom Stanton
On the line at the AJ Bell
Pool 1’s top two sides face off in Sale, as the unbeaten Sharks welcome Dai Young’s men.
A pair of bonus-point triumphs over Saracens and Northampton Saints have so far earned Sharks a perfect 10 points, taking them to the cusp of the semi-finals.
Wasps, on the other hand, put things right last time out, following their opening-day defeat against Saracens, as they edged out Saints on the road.
And while Sale have a spotless record to defend, a result for the visitors would put daylight between the four pool sides.
There is plenty for home fans to watch out for in Saturday’s clash as a number of senior faces lend an impressive look to the Sharks’ side.
Jono Ross comes in at flanker, while Marland Yarde also comes into the fold and Coenie Oosthuizen and Armand van der Merwe make their full debuts.
Back for @SaleSharksRugby, a long awaited recovery 🦈
A dangerous predator back in the mix 💨💨
The same old @YardeM, is it to be?
The usual result, 5 points under the sticks…
Look, we tried our best 😂 Not our best work 😏 pic.twitter.com/29DjUrgCGm
— Premiership Rugby (@premrugby) October 3, 2019
For Wasps, there are a couple of anniversaries to celebrate: Tommy Taylor and Juan de Jongh will make their 50th appearances in the shirt at the AJ Bell.
Sale Sharks:Chris Ashton, Denny Solomona, Sam James, Cameron Redpath, Marland Yarde, Robert du Preez, Embrose Papier, Ross Harrison, Akker van der Merwe, WillGriff John, Bryn Evans, Matt Postlethwaite, Jono Ross, Ben Curry, Josh Beaumont
Replacements: Rob Webber, Bevan Rodd, Coenie Oosthuizen, James Phillips, Sam Moore, Will Cliff, Luke James, Byron McGuigan
Wasps: Rob Miller, Zach Kibirige, Juan de Jongh, Michael Le Bourgeois, Paolo Odogwu, Jacob Umaga, Sam Wolstenholme, Ben Harris, Tommy Taylor, Jeff Toomaga-Allen, Thibaud Flament, Charlie Matthews, Ashley Johnson, Jack Willis, Nizaam Carr
Replacements: Gabriel Oghre. Tom West, Kieran Brookes, Theo Vukasinovic, Sione Vailanu, Henry Clement, Billy Searle, Ross Neal