Two rounds to go….Aviva Premiership Rugby previews

Two rounds to go….Aviva Premiership Rugby previews

Aviva Premiership Rugby goes into its penultimate round with many of the key issues unsettled and the identity of all four semi-finalists and Champions Cup qualifiers still in the balance.

Round 20 kicks off with one of the oldest rivalries in British sport – Harlequins v Wasps, live on BT Sport.

The big matches just keep on coming through the weekend, the round ending with a mouth-watering west country derby at the Recreation Ground, with Gloucester Rugby arriving in Bath.

The battle for sixth is fascinating with just two points currently separating Northampton Saints, Harlequins and Gloucester Rugby.

Friday 28 April
Harlequins v Wasps (Twickenham Stoop, 7.45pm) Live on BT Sport
Referee: Wayne Barnes (182nd Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Paul Dix, Simon McConnell. TMO: Sean Davey.

Wasps have won their last five Aviva Premiership Rugby encounters since their 28-34 reversal at Sale on 19 February – their only defeat in the competition since mid-November.

Wasps have lost only one of their last five fixtures against Harlequins in all competitions: 21-26 in this equivalent fixture in round 1 last year, but Wasps’ only victory at Twickenham Stoop in Premiership Rugby since 2007 was by a single point in February 2013.

Newcastle Falcons v Worcester Warriors (Kingston Park, 8pm)
Referee: Greg Garner (115th Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: John Meredith, Roger Baileff. TMO: Stuart Terheege.

Newcastle Falcons solitary home defeat in Premiership Rugby in 2017 came when Saracens were the visitors on 5 March.

All of Worcester Warriors matches in the last five rounds have been won by the home side on the day. The Warriors have not won away from home in Aviva Premiership Rugby since visiting Harlequins in round 17 last season.

Worcester’s only defeat in their last nine encounters with Falcons in all competitions was 11-16 at Sixways in Premiership Rugby in October 2013. The Warriors have not lost at Kingston Park since November 2009.

Saturday 29 April
Leicester Tigers v Sale Sharks (Welford Road, 3pm)
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys (34th Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Nigel Carrick, Matthew O’Grady. TMO: Geoff Warren.

Leicester Tigers have suffered just two reversals in the last seven rounds of Aviva Premiership Rugby: at home to Exeter Chiefs and against Bath at Twickenham.

The Tigers other two home defeats in Premiership Rugby this season came at the hands of Wasps and Saracens.

Sale have won their last three matches against Tigers but have never won four in a row against the East Midlanders.

The Sharks were victorious 10-3 on their most recent visit to Welford Road in February 2016 and have only once before won successive matches at the venue – in 2003 in Premiership Rugby and in the Knockout Cup.

Exeter Chiefs v Northampton Saints (Sandy Park, 3pm) Live on BT Sport
Referee: JP Doyle (130th Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Jack Makepeace, Ross Campbell. TMO: David Grashoff.

Exeter Chiefs have won their last six matches in Aviva Premiership Rugby gaining a maximum 30 league points – no side has ever achieved seven maximum point wins in a row.

The Chiefs most recent defeat in the competition came when Bath visited Sandy Park in round 7.

The Chiefs are unbeaten in their last eight first team games at Sandy Park, since Bordeaux won there in the European Champions Cup on 11 December.

Northampton Saints have slipped to three straight late defeats in Aviva Premriship Rugby, in each instance Saints were leading with less than three minutes to go.

Northampton’s only away win in any competition since New Year’s Day was 32-12 at Sale in round 17 of Aviva Premiership Rugby.

Saracens v Bristol Rugby (Allianz Park, 3pm)
Referee: Andrew Jackson (5th Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Anthony Woodthorpe, Paul Burton. TMO: David Rose.

Saracens have won their last five first team matches since their defeat to Leicester at Allianz Park in the semi-final of the Anglo-Welsh Cup, Sarries have not lost at the venue in Aviva Premiership Rugby since Northampton were the visitors on 5 March 2016.

Saracens have won their last five matches against Bristol in all competitions since the West Countrymen’s 18-3 victory at Memorial Stadium in Premiership Rugby in January 2008. This is Bristol’s first visit to Allianz Park.

Sunday 30 April
Bath Rugby v Gloucester Rugby (Recreation Ground, 3pm) Live on BT Sport
Referee: Matthew Carly (59th Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Wayne Falla, Adam Leal. TMO: Keith Lewis.

Bath Rugby’s only victory in the last five rounds of Aviva Premiership Rugby was 27-21 over Leicester Tigers at Twickenham in round 19. Bath’s only defeat at the Recreation Ground in any tournament in 2017 came when Wasps were the visitors in round 17 of Premiership Rugby.

Bath have lost only one of their last ten fixtures against Gloucester in all tournaments: 11-15 at the Recreation Ground in this equivalent fixture in Premiership Rugby in round 11 last year.

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