In between the various Christmas festivities this weekend, there’s plenty of Aviva Premiership Rugby to keep you thoroughly entertained in Round 11.
Worcester Warriors meet London Irish in a crucial clash at the bottom of the league table tonight with four games on Saturday ahead of Leicester Tigers taking on Saracens on Christmas Eve.
Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Round 11.
Saracens and Tigers set for festive fun
A Christmas cracker is being served at Welford Road as two giants of English rugby face a vital game following their respective European disappointments.
The Tigers have lost their last two Aviva Premiership Rugby games, including defeat to Worcester at Welford Road, while Saracens have slipped to seven successive defeats in all competitions.
The hosts keep faith with much of the side that narrowly lost to Munster last weekend with Logovi’i Mulipola replacing Kyle Traynor in the front row the only change.
🗣️“Saracens have been through the rigours of Europe so they are going to be battle-hardened and ready,” head coach Matt O’Connor.
— Leicester Tigers (@LeicesterTigers) December 22, 2017
For Saracens, Owen Farrell remains as captain in the absence of Brad Barritt with Alex Lozowski starting at inside centre alongside Marcelo Bosch.
Juan Figallo starts in the front row alongside Mako Vunipola and Jamie George with Michael Rhodes set to make his much-anticipated return from injury after being named amongst the replacements.
Fainga’a makes Irish debut
London Irish, without a win since the opening day, are six points behind Worcester at the foot of the Aviva Premiership Rugby table making this a crucial match-up.
Australian international Saia Fainga’a makes his full league debut for Irish alongside World Cup winner Ben Franks and Petrus du Plessis in the front row.
For the Warriors, David Denton and GJ van Velze both return to the back row with the rest of the side the same to the one which lost to Sale Sharks in Round 10.
🎥 “We need to bring our A-game every time we play.”
Gary Gold looks ahead to a tough battle against London Irish on Friday… pic.twitter.com/nKKw2OTd3c
— Worcester Warriors 🏉 (@WorcsWarriors) December 21, 2017
Worcester were victorious in their last fixture against Irish, a 12-6 win at Sixways in March 2016, but the Exiles had won five consecutive meetings prior to that.
Robshaw reaches Quins milestone
Two sides locked with five wins from ten and 24 points each meet at Kingston Park on Saturday as Newcastle Falcons welcome Harlequins to the North East.
Harlequins haven’t won away from home in the league since Round 3, when they beat Wasps, and will be looking for something special to mark Chris Robshaw’s 250th appearance.
Robshaw is one of seven changes John Kingston has made with Joe Marler, Ben Glynn and James Chisholm all recalled and Mike Brown, Tim Visser and Jono Kitto also named in the starting XV.
— Harlequins 🃏 (@Harlequins) December 22, 2017
For Newcastle, Mark Wilson is named as captain on the occasion of his 200th appearance for the club with Nili Latu and Sonatane Takulua back after missing Falcons’ back-to-back European victories.
Vereniki Goneva, Chris Harris, Sinoti Sinoti, Toby Flood, Kyle Cooper and Jon Welsh all also return.
Leaders travel to Franklin’s Gardens
League leaders Exeter Chiefs travel to Franklin’s Gardens as Northampton Saints prepare for their first Aviva Premiership Rugby match without Jim Mallinder in over a decade.
The Saints have lost five on the bounce in the league and interim head coach Alan Dickens has made five changes to the starting line-up which lost in Europe last weekend.
— Exeter Chiefs (@ExeterChiefs) December 22, 2017
Courtney Lawes returns to the pack, at blindside flanker, alongside Jamie Gibson and Teimana Harrison with Api Ratuniyarawa set for a first start since October in the second row.
Skipper Dylan Hartley and Luther Burrell both start against the Chiefs who have an eight-point lead over second-placed Gloucester after the opening ten rounds.
Henry Slade starts at full-back due to injuries to Phil Dollman and Lachie Turner while Dave Ewers is in the back row for his first start since April.
Burns and Priestland start together
Sale Sharks’ formidable home form is put to the test by Bath Rugby on Saturday – the Manchester-based side have lost just once at the AJ Bell Stadium since September.
Bath meanwhile haven’t won at the Sharks’ home since September 2014 with each of their last five meetings going the way of the home side.
— Bath Rugby (@bathrugby) December 22, 2017
Lucas Noguera is prepared for his Bath debut at loosehead prop while Rhys Priestland shifts across to inside centre to accommodate Freddie Burns starting at fly-half.
The Sharks have seven players returning to their ranks with James O’Connor, Denny Solomona and Ben Curry all set to start in the 3pm kick-off.
In-form pair meet at Kingsholm
Wasps are on a four-game winning streak in Aviva Premiership Rugby but face an in-form Gloucester Rugby side looking for a sixth straight victory for the first time since 2003.
The Cherry & Whites’ Tom Marshall is set for his first start of the campaign as one of eight changes including a brand new front row of Paddy McAllister, James Hanson and John Afoa.
— Wasps (@WaspsRugby) December 22, 2017
Jake Polledri keeps his place in the back row alongside by Lewis Ludlow and November’s Player of the Month Ruan Ackermann.
Wasps welcome Josh Bassett and Guy Thompson back from injury with Kyle Eastmond remaining at inside centre after the injury to Jimmy Gopperth during last weekend’s European tie.
This content was originally published here.