Saracens will look to ride the wave of last weekend’s hard-fought win at the Stoop back to their first home game of the season, as Newcastle seek to detach the emotion of the situation from performance at Sixways in seeking their first win of the season.
Round two results
Round three has some exciting matchups in store, including a star-studded East Midlands derby between Northampton and last season’s champions Leicester Tigers.
Here’s all you need to know about this weekend’s matches, which kicked off on Friday night with Bath taking on Wasps:
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Bristol Bears v London Irish
- Saturday 24 September, 3pm kick-off
The Bears will hope to ride the momentum generated from their big win at Wasps last weekend with Ellis Genge returning to the front row and AJ MacGinty making his first competitive start at his new club. Harry Thacker returning to the bench from injury is also an exciting prospect.
Irish take an exciting young team to Ashton Gate, with Henry Arundell, Will Joseph and Chandler Cunningham-South all starting as they hope to bounce back from defeat at Northampton last week.
Director of rugby Declan Kidney has shrewdly talked up the credentials of his “in-form” opponents this week: “Bristol Bears have started the season with two wins from two games in the Gallagher Premiership and are a well-drilled outfit under Pat Lam.”
Bristol Bears: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Piers O’Conor, 12 Sam Bedlow, 11 Rich Lane, 10 AJ MacGinty, 9 Harry Randall, 1 Ellis Genge, 2 Will Capon, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 4 Ed Holmes, 5 Joe Joyce, 6 Chris Vui, 7 Jake Heenan (c), 8 Magnus Bradbury; Replacements: 16 Harry Thacker, 17 Jake Woolmore, 18 Max Lahiff, 19 John Hawkins, 20 Dan Thomas, 21 Andy Uren, 22 Callum Sheedy, 23 Henry Purdy
London Irish: 15 Henry Arundell, 14 Will Joseph, 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Benhard van Rensburg, 11 Ollie Hassell-Collins, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Ben White, 1 Will Goodrick-Clarke, 2 Isaac Miller, 3 Oliver Hoskins, 4 Api Ratuniyarawa, 5 Rob Simmons, 6 Matt Rogerson (c), 7 Tom Pearson, 8 Chandler Cunningham-South; Replacements: 16 Joseph Vajner, 17 Danilo Fischetti, 18 Lovejoy Chawatama, 19 Josh Caulfield, 20 Ben Donnell, 21 Caolan Englefield, 22 James Stokes, 23 Ben Loader
Prediction: Bristol by 12
Northampton Saints v Leicester Tigers
- Saturday 24 September, 2pm kick-off, coverage starts 2.30pm on BT Sport 1
Both teams come off the back of victories into this Midlands derby which should be a great contest, with Lewis Ludlam, Dan Biggar, Tommy Freeman and Courtney Lawes all set for returns for the hosts while Alex Mitchell continues his fine form at scrum-half.
Tigers have picked a strong team for the clash, with Freddie Steward returning from his rest period and Freddie Burns back at fly-half. Jack van Poortvliet is also set to play his 50th Tigers match, an impressive milestone for the young England No 9, also named as vice-captain.
Northampton Saints: 15 George Furbank, 14 Tommy Freeman, 13 Fraser Dingwall, 12 Rory Hutchinson, 11 Matt Proctor, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Alex Mitchell, 1 Emmanuel Iyogun, 2 Sam Matavesi, 3 Alfie Petch, 4 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 5 Alex Coles, 6 Courtney Lawes, 7 Lewis Ludlam (c), 8 Juarno Augustus; Replacements: 16 Mike Haywood, 17 Ethan Waller, 18 Paul Hill, 19 Alex Moon, 20 Angus Scott-Young, 21 Tom James, 22 James Grayson, 23 Tom Collins
Leicester Tigers: 15 Freddie Steward, 14 Harry Potter, 13 Guy Porter, 12 Jimmy Gopperth, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Jack van Poortvliet, 1 James Cronin, 2 Charlie Clare, 3 Dan Cole, 4 Ollie Chessum, 5 Calum Green, 6 George Martin, 7 Tommy Reffell, 8 Hanro Liebenberg (c); Replacements: 16 Joe Taufete’e, 17 Francois van Wyk, 18 Joe Heyes, 19 Harry Wells, 20 Olly Cracknell, 21 Ben Youngs, 22 Phil Cokanasiga, 23 Chris Ashton
Prediction: Leicester by six
Saracens v Gloucester Rugby
- Saturday 24 September, 3pm kick-off
Saracens’ first home game of the season will see their new West Stand surely rocking after a win over rivals Harlequins, as they welcome the Cherry and Whites. Theo McFarland continues to impress in the second row while Mako Vunipola and Jamie George return to add heft and skill.
Gloucester’s task here feels a little tall, even if they’re bringing in new signing Albert Tuisue at No. 8 for his debut.
Saracens: 15 Elliot Daly, 14 Max Malins, 13 Alex Lozowski, 12 Duncan Taylor, 11 Alex Lewington, 10 Owen Farrell (c), 8 Ivan van Zyl, 1 Mako Vunipola, 2 Jamie George, 3 Christian Judge, 4 Theo McFarland, 5 Hugh Tizard, 6 Andy Christie, 7 Ben Earl, 8 Billy Vunipola; Replacements: 16 Tom Woolstencroft, 17 Eroni Mawi, 18 Alec Clarey, 19 Callum Hunter-Hill, 20 Jackson Wray, 21 Ruben de Haas, 22 Manu Vunipola, 23 Josh Hallett
Gloucester Rugby: 15 Lloyd Evans, 14 Louis Rees-Zammit, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Mark Atkinson, 11 Ollie Thorley, 10 Adam Hastings, 9 Ben Meehan, 1 Harry Elrington, 2 Jack Singleton, 3 Fraser Balmain, 4 Freddie Clarke, 5 Alex Craig, 6 Ruan Ackermann (c), 7 Harry Taylor 8 Albert Tuisue; Replacements: 16 Santiago Socino, 17 Val Rapava-Ruskin, 18 Jamal Ford-Robinson, 19. Cameron Jordan, 20 Jordy Reid, 21 Charlie Chapman, 22 Billy Twelvetrees, 23 Kyle Moyle
Prediction: Saracens by 11
Worcester Warriors v Newcastle Falcons
- Saturday 24 September, 3pm kick-off
Duhan van der Merwe’s first appearance this season is a small ray of sunshine at Sixways amid the ongoing turmoil at the club.
Their visitors, Newcastle, are keenly aware of the tumult and potential for the match to be retroactively scrubbed from the record, but head coach Dave Walder has insisted upon total focus on the match: “As the head coach of Newcastle there’s nothing I can do about that. What will be will be in terms of whether or not the result stands, and nobody is taking anything for granted.”
George McGuigan captains this side, enjoying a fine streak of three tries from the first two games of the campaign.
Worcester: 15 Jamie Shillcock, 14 Alex Hearle, 13 Ollie Lawrence, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Billy Searle, 9 Gareth Simpson, 1 Murray McCallum, 2 Curtis Langdon, 3 Jay Tyack, 4 Joe Batley, 5 Andrew Kitchener, 6 Fergus Lee-Warner, 7 Cameron Neild, 8 Tom Dodd; Replacements: 16 Hame Faiva, 17 Kai Owen, 18 Jack Owlett, 19 Graham Kitchener, 20 Matt Kvesic, 21 Will Chudley, 22 Oli Morris, 23 Noah Heward
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Alex Tait, 14 Adam Radwan, 13 Ben Stevenson, 12 George Wacokecoke, 11 Mateo Carreras, 10 Brett Connon, 9 Cameron Nordli-Kelemeti; 1 Phil Brantingham, 2 George McGuigan (captain), 3 Trevor Davison, 4 Greg Peterson, 5 Sebastian de Chaves, 6 Sean Robinson, 7 Connor Collett, 8 Callum Chick; Replacements: 16 Charlie Maddison, 17 Adam Brocklebank, 18 Mark Tampin, 19 George Merrick, 20 Jamie Blamire, 21 Josh Barton, 22 Tian Schoeman, 23 Tom Penny
Prediction: Newcastle by 19
Exeter Chiefs v Harlequins
- Sunday 25 September, 3pm kick-off, coverage from 2pm on BT Sport 1
The Chiefs are seeking to make it three on the bounce and can probably smell blood in a Harlequins side beaten at home by Saracens last weekend, even with the return of their star fly-half Marcus Smith.
“They’ve been two very strong performances,” said Chiefs’ director of rugby Rob Baxter. “What I’ve liked from watching us is just how hard we’ve been willing to work.”
A plethora of returning talent including Luke Cowan-Dickie, Harry Williams, Henry Slade, Dave Ewers, Sam Simmonds and Stuart Hogg will certainly help lighten the load.
Worcester Warriors: 15 Jamie Shillcock, 14 Perry Humphreys, 13 Ollie Lawrence, 12 Francois Venter (c), 11 Alex Hearle, 9 Gareth Simpson, 10 Owen Williams, 9 Gareth Simpson, 1 Valeriy Morozov, 2 Curtis Langdon, 3 Murray McCallum, 4 Joe Batley, 5 Andrew Kitchener, 6 Fergus Lee-Warner, 7 Cameron Neild, 8 Tom Dodd; Replacements: 16 Hame Faiva, 17 Rory Sutherland, 18 Jay Tyack, 19 Graham Kitchener, 20 Matt Kvesic, 21 Will Chudley, 22 Billy Searle, 23 Noah Heward
Harlequins: 15 Tyrone Green, 14 Joe Marchant, 13 Luke Northmore, 12 Lennox Anyanwu, 11 Cadan Murley, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Lewis Gjaltema, 1 Joe Marler, 2 Jack Walker (c), 3 Wilco Louw, 4 George Hammond, 5 Irne Herbst, 6 Jack Kenningham, 7 Will Evans, 8 Archie White; Replacements: 16 George Head, 17 Santiago Garcia Botta, 18 Simon Kerrod, 19 Dino Lamb, 20 Matas Jurevicius, 21 Danny Care, 22 Tommy Allan, 23 Nick David
Prediction: Exeter by six
Highlights for round 2 of the Gallagher Premiership are available on BT Sport