Round 14 was by no means a box office restart to the league. Some matches were cagey with high amounts of ball out of play time. However, it certainly has wetted the appetite of rugby fans and they are ready for more. Gallagher Premiership Round 15 gives an opportunity for the teams that looked rusty to show that they have blown away the cobwebs. On the other hand, teams that showed real promise on the restart will be wanting to show that it wasn’t just a one-off performance and it actually the start of excellent form.
What is in store in Gallagher Premiership Round 15?
This coming weekend presents a lot of interesting match ups. Friday night has two match ups which should be exciting and competitive. Firstly, Exeter visiting Sale in what is normally a tough away fixture for any team. There is also a potentially feisty fixture between Gloucester and Bristol with two teams packed full of exciting backs and dynamic forwards. The third fixture is the imperious Wasps side facing up against the Worcester Warriors who had a disappointing outing last weekend.
Another bumper weekend of #GallagherPrem action on its way 😎
6 fascinating clashes coming your way in Round 1️⃣5️⃣ and you can catch every second of the drama live on @btsport 🙌
Which of these crackers are you most excited for? 💥 pic.twitter.com/nJzxVukX4n
— Premiership Rugby (@premrugby) August 18, 2020
Saturday also has some intriguing match ups, a London derby where Saracens host the Harlequins. Sarries will be desperate to show that last week was a blip. The Quins will want to extend their winning streak by beating their local rivals. Followed by an intriguing match up between London Irish and Northampton Saints.
On paper this would seem an easy win for the Saints but having received a physical lesson from Wasps last weekend, the Irish may have a blueprint as to how they can beat Northampton. Their squad is stacked full of physical players capable of pulling it off. The weekend will be finished off with the renewing of the classic rivalry between Leicester and Bath, this match up boasts potential for a real exciting match up.
Let’s look into each match up in a little more detail.
Sale Sharks vs Exeter Chiefs (6pm Friday Aug 21)
Sale will be eager to display the sort of performance that was expected in Round 14. The big names that have been recruited will want to start to show their class.Steve Diamond has made only one change to the lineup, as he hopes his South African dominated can match up to the mobility of the Exeter pack.
Exeter will want to put a much more assured first half performance together. They will want to put the Sale team to the sword from the off as well as avenge the defeat they suffered at home earlier in the season. Sale should focus on the basics and look to prevent the Chiefs forwards from dominating. Their usual possession based approach to ball carrying often effective and the Sharks could make it a double over the Exeter side this campaign if they can overcome that.
Gloucester vs Bristol Bears (7:45pm Friday Aug 21)
This South West derby has a lot to be excited about, two teams packed full of star studded backs and combative forwards. This match up could present us with an exciting highlights reel to really dispel the memories of the bland restart to the season. The likes of Ollie Thorley and Louis Rees-Zammit on the wings will hope to see plenty of ball. However, on the other side of the pitch, Semi Radradra and the backs will want to show that they are able to link up and show some real class.
Both sides will need to hope their defensive lines are effective in this match up, that is where this match will be won or lost. In the forwards, Bristol are unleashing Ben Earl and Kyle Sinckler from the start. They will look to outshine the likes of Jake Polledri and Lewis Ludlow who both had barnstorming performances last week. This is close to call but Bristol could have the edge.
Wasps vs Worcester Warriors (7:45pm Friday Aug 21)
Wasps will want to put on an equally physical performance against the Warriors as they did against Northampton. The battle at the breakdown will go a long way of deciding the outcome of this match up. Sadly we won’t get to watch a match up between Willis and Ted Hill, the latter also being a regularly tipped for future England lineups.
Both sides have named completely different lineups to last week, But it is still hard to see beyond a Wasps victory here.
Saracens vs Harlequins (12:30pm Saturday Aug 22)
The beleaguered Saracens will want to put last weeks defeat behind them and put a strong performance together at the Allianz. Saracens are a team that often looks into their own performances as a form of self-motivation. Last week’s disappointing result could give the Saracens team that extra edge in the match up.
However, Harlequins have their own motivations and will no doubt be wanting to put in a big performance in honour of Jack Clifford who announced this week an early retirement due to injuries suffered for the Quins. An opportunity to put one over against their local rivals will be a fitting tribute to the young flanker. However, the often ruthless Saracens will hope they can lean on their big names to guide them to victory.
London Irish vs Northampton Saints (2pm Saturday Aug 22)
Northampton’s position in the table and scoring charts compared to London Irish suggest an easy victory for them. On the other hand, London Irish possess a strong and physical roster of players. They are excellent at being disruptive and playing with a powerful running style. If they are able to come out on top in the physical battle it will stand them in good stead.
The Northampton side is often hailed as being attacking and exciting. The price of that is the forwards being mobile and being less combative and competitive at the breakdown. Lewis Ludlam and Courtney Lawes are the key to success here, if they are able to walk the fine line of being excellent in the loose and in the breakdown it could see a victory for the Saints. We may also see a debut for Shaun Adendoorf who will bring some much needed physicality to the Northampton side.
Leicester Tigers vs Bath (4:30pm Saturday Aug 22)
The renewing of this old rivalry makes this arguably the must-watch match of the weekend. Bath are the team in form and have had a much more stable off-season which should set them up nicely. The Bath pack were ruthless in their set piece against London Irish and will want to use that platform to their advantage against the Tigers.
However, the Tigers now led by Borthwick have no better person to guide them around this obstacle. No doubt that Borthwick will have analysed the bath set piece to try and nullify its effectiveness. If Leicester have been able to gel together further during this week and they may fancy their chances in this feisty outing. Bath will be hoping the excellent Sam Underhill and Zach Mercer will be able to keep the Tigers forwards at bay.
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