Bristol v Leicester - Premiership Rugby Preview

Bristol v Leicester - Premiership Rugby Preview

The 2023/24 Gallagher Premiership Rugby season begins with a barnstorming clash under Friday night lights as Bristol Bears welcome Leicester Tigers to Ashton Gate.

Bears have lost just once at Ashton Gate in the Gallagher Premiership since last November and have new signing Virimi Vakatawa set to make his debut from the bench.

Tigers are unbeaten in the last four meetings between these two sides and are looking to lift the trophy for the second time in three seasons.

TV: Live on TNT Sports, 7.45pm kick-off (Local).

Referee: Ian Tempest

Assistant Referees: Joe James and Jonathan Healy

TMO: Rowan Kitt

Team News

Bristol Bears: 15. Rich Lane, 14. Gabriel Ibitoye, 13. Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 12. James Williams, 11. Noah Heward, 10. AJ MacGinty, 9. Harry Randall; 1. Jake Woolmore, 2. Harry Thacker, 3. Max Lahiff, 4. James Dun, 5. Joe Batley, 6. Fitz Harding (c), 7. Dan Thomas, 8. Magnus Bradbury

Replacements: 16. Will Capon, 17. Andrew Turner, 18. Jay Tyack, 19. Josh Caulfield, 20. Steven Luatua, 21. Kieran Marmion, 22. Virimi Vakatawa, 23. Piers O’Conor

Leicester Tigers: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Josh Bassett, 13 Guy Porter, 12 Dan Kelly, 11 Ollie Hassell-Collins, 10 Charlie Atkinson, 9 Joe Powell, 1 Francois Van Wyk, 2 Charlie Clare, 3 Joe Heyes, 4 Cameron Henderson, 5 Harry Wells, 6 Hanro Liebenberg (c), 7 Olly Cracknell, 8 Matt Rogerson

Replacements: 16 Nic Dolly, 17 James Whitcombe, 18 Will Hurd, 19 Mike Williams, 20 Kyle Hatherell, 21 Tom Whiteley, 22 Jamie Shillcock, 23 Phil Cokanasiga

Oval Insights

Bristol Bears

  • Bristol Bears had the best rate of gainline success in the league last season (46.3%). They averaged 3.7 metres per carry – second only to Northampton Saints.
  • 19.1% of the time that the Bears’ carried the ball last season, the carry ended in a pass. By this metric, they passed the ball more than any other Premiership side.
  • On average, the Bears made 13.2 offloads and beat 22.0 defenders per 80 minutes last season – both more than any other team.
  • Bristol Bears kicked the least last season: they made an average of 14.8 kicks in play and 405 kicking metres, both the lowest in the Premiership.

Leicester Tigers

  • Tigers made an average of 26.4 kicks in play per 80 minutes last season, yielding an average of 779.0 metres – both the highest in the league
  • Leicester Tigers’ lineout success rate last season was a Premiership-high 91.9%. Hanro Leibenberg won more lineouts with a clean catch than any other player (123).
  • Tigers had the second-highest rate of tackle dominance in the league last season, making dominant collisions with 6.4% of their tackles. They also had the second-highest rate of carry dominance (26.8%)
  • Leicester made an average of 5.8 offloads per 80 minutes last season – fewer than any other team

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