Returning From European Action: Premiership Rugby Round 16 Preview

Returning From European Action: Premiership Rugby Round 16 Preview

The Premiership is back on the scene after the break for the Champions and Challenge Cups and fans can look forward to some clashes in Round 16.

Northampton Saints vs London Irish

Last time they faced off

Things will kick off at Franklin’s Gardens with Northampton Saints hosting London Irish. The home side enjoyed a thumping win over Worcester Warriors in Round 17, dominating their opponents at Sixways 62-14.

Exiles were also on the right side of the scoreboard in Round 15 as they snuck past Bath in a brilliant game of rugby at the Brentford Community Stadium.

Most recently, in the Challenge Cup, both sides tasted defeat. Bath managed to turn the tables on Exiles after their Premiership defeat, 26-13 at The Rec. while Northampton fell to Ulster 35-27.

In terms of the log, the teams are almost neck-&-neck, with Saints on 41 points and Exiles on 40 – the former in fifth position and the latter in sixth.

Exeter Chiefs vs Wasps

Last time they faced off

A mouth-watering clash awaits the fans of Exeter and Wasps as the two heavyweights go head-to-head at Sandy Park.

The Chiefs were taken by surprise in Round 15 when they left Kingsholm 34-18 losers after Gloucester took them by surprise. Their luck did not change against Leinster in the Champions Cup as the Irishmen put them to the sword 34-22. Chiefs will thus be eager to spring back to winning ways after a rut of loss and will throw all they can at Lee Blackett’s Wasps.

Wasps suffered a 1-point loss on their home turf in Round 15 against Sale Sharks at the Ricoh Arena. Despite the visitors being shown 3 yellow cards during the match, Wasps were unable to see out the game with a victory.

On the last occasion that these teams met – in Round 5 – it was Wasps who came away with the spoils in quite dramatic fashion, 34-5.

Regarding the overall standings, Exeter are currently in second position with 49 points – 12 behind Bristol Bears. Wasps – who are having a distinctly average season compared to last – now occupy ninth spot and have something of a mountain to climb going forward.

Sale vs Gloucester

Last time they faced off

After slipping past Wasps in Round 15, the Sale Sharks will turn their attention to Kingsholm where they will travel to meet Gloucester. The Cherry & Whites were responsible for perhaps the biggest upset of the round last time out when they left the field with their heads held high after putting Exeter Chiefs down 34-18. While the Chiefs were, admittedly, somewhat depleted, it was still a fine showing by George Skivington’s men.

Sale’s discipline against Wasps left much to be desired as the men from Manchester were shown three yellow cards, yet, were still able to come away with a win. Akker van der Merwe – although one of the recipients of a yellow card – will be a player to watch as his form continues to ascend.

It was Sale who took the spoils the last time the two met; a Round 5 result of 22-19.

Harlequins vs Worcester

Last time they faced off

After the hiding administered to them at Sixways in Round 15, Worcester Warriors will be only too happy to post a more positive result this weekend when they travel to the Twickenham Stoop to take on the Quins. Worcester will be looking to up their second-half performance this time around after the floodgates opened in that period against the Northampton Saints in Round 15.

Quins were pipped by Bristol Bears in a thrilling Premiership clash which saw the former snatch defeat from the jaws of a draw after a conversion followed the full-time hooter to give Bristol a two-point victory. It was a stout effort by Quins against the log-leaders and the marginal loss will ensure that they are motivated rather than complacent going into this encounter.

Newcastle vs Bristol

Last time they faced off

A big battle is brewing at Kingston where the Newcastle Falcons are preparing to hunt the Bears. Newcastle were soundly beaten in Round 15 by Leicester Tigers at Welford Road – 26-12. It was a good first half performance by Leicester who bossed the territory and possession stats, all the while building their score. Falcons were, however, much improved in the second stanza and engaged in some strong pressure play with saw tensions in the Leicester ranks boil over twice, resulting in two yellow cards in quick succession which Falcons took full advantage of. Try as they did, they were ultimately unable to topple the Tigers.

As touched on above, Bristol breathed a long sigh of relief at the final whistle in their Round 15 fixture against Quins. Pat Lam’s charges currently enjoy a 12-point cushion atop the overall standings but will be hungry to increase that lead against a team languishing in the bottom half of the table at present.

Bath vs Leicester Tigers

Last time they faced off

The round will conclude on Sunday at The Rec. with Bath taking on Leicester Tigers. Bath will be happy to be back at home after just losing out to London Irish (36-33) in Round 15 while Leicester had an encouraging victory against Newcastle Falcons.

More recently, both sides were involved in the Challenge Cup quarter-finals last weekend. Leicester managed to advance to the semis – where they will face Ulster at Welford Road – by beating Newcastle (again) 39-15 while Bath will also take part in the second semi, against Montpellier at The Rec. Both teams are thus on something of a high which makes a spirited encounter quite likely.

They last faced each other in Round 5 in a high-scoring game in which Leicester ultimately triumphed 36-31. In terms of the log, there is much to play for as Bath currently trail Leicester by a single point as the sides occupy 8th and 7th spots respectively.

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