There are four Aviva Premiership fixtures on Saturday, with relegation-threatened London Irish looking for back-to-back home wins for the first time this season when they face Sale being arguably the pick of the bunch.
Exeter Chiefs (2nd,59pts) v Worcester Warriors (10th,34pts), 15:00 kick-off
Exeter will be buoyed this weekend by the return of England Grand Slam winner Jack Nowell against Worcester.
Nowell missed last week’s encounter with Saracens. The Cornishman is one of six changes to the home side, lining up in a back division which also includes the recalled Will Chudley.
Up front, Ben Moon and Moray Low are added to prop up Luke Cowan-Dickie in the front row, while Ollie Atkins and Don Armand are also included from the outset with Geoff Parling and Dave Ewers sitting this weekend out.
On the bench, there is a welcome return for Mitch Lees, who is included in a Chiefs squad for the first time since New Year’s Day, as well as returning backs Michele Campagnaro and James Short.
Meanwhile, tighthead prop James Johnston will make his first start for Warriors when they travel to Sandy Park.
The big Samoan is just one of two changes to the starting XV that defeated London Irish last weekend as Sam Betty returns to the side at openside flanker.
Exeter: 15 Phil Dollman, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Ian Whitten, 11 Olly Woodburn, 10 Gareth Steenson (c), 9 Will Chudley, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Don Armand, 5 Damian Welch, 4 Ollie Atkins, 3 Moray Low, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 1 Ben Moon
Replacements: 16 Jack Yeandle, 17 Alec Hepburn, 18 Harry Williams, 19 Mitch Lees, 20 Kai Horstmann, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 Michele Campagnaro, 23 James Short
Worcester: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Bryce Heem, 13 Wynand Olivier, 12 Ryan Mills, 11 Cooper Vuna, 10 Tom Heathcote, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 GJ van Velze (c), 7 Sam Betty, 6 Carl Kirwan, 5 Darren Barry, 4 Donncha O’Callaghan, 3 James Johnston, 2 Niall Annett, 1 Val Rapava Ruskin
Replacements: 16 Jaba Bregvadze, 17 Na’ama Leleimalefaga, 18 Gareth Milasinovich, 19 Dan Sanderson, 20 Matt Cox, 21 Luke Baldwin, 22 Ryan Lamb, 23 Andy Symons
Harlequins (6th,45pts) v Newcastle Falcons (11th,22pts), 15:00 kick-off
Harlequins have made two changes to the starting team that played Northampton Saints last week with Marland Yarde returning from injury to start on the wing, while Chris Robshaw starts at blindside flanker.
Among the replacements Matt Hopper will look to make his 100th appearance for the Club.
Meanwhile, Newcastle Falcons have made two changes.Sinoti Sinoti makes his third league start of the season, Alex Tait switching to full-back as the Samoan slots in on the wing.
The only other change comes in the pack where Ally Hogg’s inclusion sees Sean Robinson drop to the bench, Mark Wilson pushing forward into the second row as Hogg starts at number eight.
Japanese international Kensuke Hatakeyama is among the replacements in the week he helped the club’s second string into the semi-finals of the Aviva ‘A’ League, the tighthead playing in Monday’s 24-15 triumph at Gloucester.
Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Marland Yarde, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Ben Botica, 9 Danny Care (c), 8 Nick Easter, 7 Jack Clifford, 6 Chris Robshaw, 5 James Horwill, 4 George Merrick, 3 Will Collier, 2 Joe Gray, 1 Joe Marler
Replacements: 16 Dave Ward, 17 Mark Lambert, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 Sam Twomey, 20 Mat Luamanu, 21 Karl Dickson, 22 Matt Hopper, 23 Ross Chisholm
Newcastle: 15 Alex Tait, 14 Marcus Watson, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Adam Powell, 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Mike Delany, 9 Michael Young, 8 Ally Hogg, 7 Will Welch (c), 6 Nili Latu, 5 Calum Green, 4 Mark Wilson, 3 Taione Vea, 2 George McGuigan, 1 Rob Vickers
Replacements: 16 Scott Lawson, 17 Alex Rogers, 18 Kensuke Hatakeyama, 19 Sean Robinson, 20 Simon Hammersley, 21 Sonatane Takulua, 22 Craig Willis, 23 Belisario Agulla
London Irish (12th,18pts) v Sale Sharks (7th,42pts), 15:00 kick-off
London Irish have made three changes for this Saturday’s Premiership encounter with Sale Sharks at the Madejski Stadium.
England capped hooker David Paice gets the nod ahead of Tom Cruse in the front row, while Jebb Sinclair replaces Elliott Stooke who has returned to Gloucester following a loan spell with the club.
The Exiles have made just one change in the backline with Tom Fowlie coming in for Topsy Ojo on the wing as Tom Coventry’s side eye successive victories on home soil following the St Patrick’s Day Game triumph over Gloucester.
Last week’s narrow 12-6 defeat at Worcester Warriors also garnered a losing bonus point for the Exiles, cutting the gap on Newcastle Falcons to just four points at the foot of the tablel.
Meanwhile, Sale boss Steve Diamond has opted to make two changes to the side which beat Leicester last weekend, with Brian Mujati and Andrei Ostrikov coming into the starting XV.
They replace Vadim Cobilas and Jonathan Mills, who are both on the bench.
Tommy Taylor will be making his 100th appearance for the Sharks, since joining the club back in 2011. Captain David Seymour will be making his 200th appearance in the Premiership.
London Irish: 15 Sean Maitland, 14 Tom Fowlie, 13 Ciaran Hearn, 12 Johnny Williams, 11 Andrew Fenby, 10 Greig Tonks, 9 Scott Steele, 8 Ofisa Treviranus, 7 Blair Cowan, 6 Luke Narraway (c), 5 Matt Symons, 4 Jebb Sinclair, 3 Halani Aulika, 2 David Paice, 1 Tom Court
Replacements: 16 Tom Cruse, 17 Tom Smallbone, 18 Leo Halavatau, 19 Jerry Sexton, 20 Rob McCusker, 21 Brendan McKibbin, 22 Theo Brophy Clews, 23 Fergus Mulchrone
Sale: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Will Addison, 13 Sam James, 12 Sam Tuitupou, 11 Nev Edwards, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Peter Stringer, 8 Mark Easter, 7 David Seymour (c), 6 Cameron Neild, 5 Andrei Ostrikov, 4 Bryn Evans, 3 Brian Mujati, 2 Tommy Taylor, 1 Eifion Lewis Roberts
Replacements: 16 Neil Briggs, 17 Ross Harrison, 18 Vadim Cobilas, 19 Jonathan Mills, 20 Magnus Lund, 21 TJ Ioane, 22 Joe Ford, 23 Tom Brady
Leicester Tigers (5th,50pts) v Gloucester Rugby (8th,40pts), 15:15 kick-off
eicester will be hoping to improve on last week’s narrow 27-20 loss to Sale when they face Gloucester at Welford Road in the Premiership on Saturday.
Telusa Veainu and Logovi’i Mulipola return for the Tigers, Tongan international Veainu starts at full-back, with Adam Thompstone selected on the wing after sitting out last week’s trip to Sale Sharks.
Mulipola meanwhile returns to the front row after a one-match ban while club captain Ed Slater is at number eight and Lachlan McCaffrey is included again after missing out last week.
Owen Williams is at fly-half alongside Ben Youngs, with Freddie Burns among the replacements.
Openside flanker Brendon O’Connor is included among the replacements after an absence due to a hamstring injury.
Meanwhile, Ben Morgan makes his first appearance since mid February as Gloucester made seven changes for this one. The England international number eight last featured in the 28-6 victory over Harlequins at Kingsholm but returns to take his place in the Gloucester back row.
Other changes see Paul Doran-Jones start at tighthead prop, Mariano Galarza come in to partner Tom Savage in the second row and Gareth Evans make his first start of the season on the blindside flank.
In the backs, there is a new look centre pairing in Mark Atkinson and Henry Trinder while Rob Cook takes over from David Halaifonua on the right wing
Leicester Tigers: 15 Telusa Veainu, 14 Adam Thompstone, 13 Peter Betham, 12 Manu Tuilagi, 11 Vereniki Goneva, 10 Owen Williams, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Ed Slater (c), 7 Lachlan McCaffrey, 6 Tom Croft, 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 Dom Barrow, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Harry Thacker, 1 Logovi’i Mulipola
Replacements: 16 Greg Bateman, 17 Marcos Ayerza, 18 Fraser Balmain, 19 Sebastian de Chaves, 20 Brendon O’Connor, 21 Sam Harrison, 22 Freddie Burns, 23 Mathew Tait
Gloucester: 15 Tom Marshall, 14 Rob Cook, 13 Henry Trinder, 12 Mark Atkinson, 11 Steve McColl, 10 James Hook, 9 Greig Laidlaw (c), 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Gareth Evans, 5 Mariano Galarza, 4 Tom Savage, 3 Paul Doran-Jones, 2 Darren Dawidiuk, 1 Paddy McAllister
Replacements: 16 Luke Cole, 17 Yann Thomas, 18 John Afoa, 19 Elliott Stooke, 20 Lewis Ludlow, 21 Callum Braley, 22 Ollie Thorley, 23 Jacob Rowan