With only seven points separating the top three in the Aviva Premiership table, this weekend of action is set to be a crucial one.
Round 15 kicks off with two Friday night matches as Bath Rugby travel up to Newcastle Falcons and Sale Sharks host Saracens.
Then after three massive battles on Saturday, the weekend is ends with a bang as Wasps face Exeter at Sandy Park.
— Bath Rugby (@bathrugby) February 16, 2018
Can the Falcons do the double over Bath?
Dean Richards’ men managed a dramatic win with the narrowest of margins when the two teams met back in September, as Mark Wilson’s late converted try sealed a 33-32 victory at the Rec.
With Falcons currently on a five-game unbeaten run at home, Richards will be eager to do the double over Bath this weekend and hunt down a top four spot in Aviva Premiership Rugby.
Aiming to prevent this, Bath have returning star Zach Mercer starting at No 8, whilst Cooper Vuna makes his debut on the left wing for the club.
Cheers guys, can’t wait to get out there! 🐝 https://t.co/KkmbZ5mlma
— jimmy gopperth (@jimmygopps) February 16, 2018
The return of Jimmy Gopperth
Last season’s Aviva Premiership Rugby player of the year Jimmy Gopperth will make his first start since suffering a knee injury against La Rochelle in mid-December, boosting Dai Young’s side for the crucial clash.
The two teams sit just seven points apart and have locked horns nine times in the last 26 months, including last season’s Aviva Premiership Rugby final with the Chiefs victorious at Twickenham.
The current champions were defeated in an intense battle last weekend with Worcester Warriors and will be looking to return to winning ways when they travel to the Ricoh Arena in the last action of Round 15.
🎥 Derby Day is back this Saturday…
And it always provides plenty of action!
— Worcester Warriors 🏉 (@WorcsWarriors) February 14, 2018
Derby day at Sixways
Gloucester Rugby make the short trip up the M5 to face the Warriors on Saturday hoping to continue the momentum after stunning league-leaders Exeter last weekend.
The hosts lie only one place above London Irish at the foot of the table and will be desperate to climb away from the danger zone, with Jonny Arr, Josh Adams and David Denton all returning to the team.
Gloucester have made just two changes from the team that beat Leicester Tigers last weekend as they hunt down the top three finish, with Matt Scott and Ben Vellacott starting in the local derby.
— Sale Sharks🦈 (@SaleSharksRugby) February 16, 2018
Battle of wits at the AJ Bell Stadium
It promises to be a tight contest when Saracens travel to Sale Sharks on Friday night judging by the statistics, as both teams are in solid form.
Saracens have won their last two away matches, have gone unbeaten in the league since the start of December, and have only been defeated by Sale Sharks once in 13 encounters.
Yet Sharks have only lost twice at home this whole season in the league and thus will be confident in their own backyard, setting up an intriguing clash for Round 15.
— Leicester Tigers (@LeicesterTigers) February 16, 2018
Will Jonah Holmes make it seventh heaven?
Leicester Tigers host Harlequins on Saturday and have Jonah Holmes returning to the starting line-up to add some firepower on the wing.
Holmes has six tries in six games to his name this season and will be essential if Tigers want to turn their recent form around.
Head coach Matt O’Connor has called for resolve amongst his men, whilst Harlequins will also be eager to perform having recorded only two wins from their last seven Aviva Premiership Rugby games.
RECORD BREAKER: @david_paice is set to overtake @topsy_ojo‘s appearance record when he takes to the field against @SaintsRugby tomorrow (kick-off 3pm). Well done Paicey! #283NotOutpic.twitter.com/k9pNGnaD46
— London Irish (@LiRFC) February 16, 2018
Exiles record-breaker David Paice
David Paice is set to break the record for London Irish appearances on Saturday as the Exiles travel to Franklin Gardens to face Northampton Saints.
The veteran hooker will make his 283rd appearance after 13 years at the club, eclipsing Topsy Ojo’s record of 282 outings set back in October before injury curtailed his season.
Nick Kennedy’s men sit bottom of the Aviva Premiership Rugby but will take confidence from Saints’ inconsistency so far this season, although George North returns from international duty hoping to boost the hosts’ attack.