Guinness Premiership Statistical Preview
December 21, 2007
Check out our statistical preview of this weekend's Guinness Premiership action.
Guinness Premiership statistics
Saturday, December 22
Bath (2) v Leeds Carnegie (11)
England lock Danny Grewcock returns to Bath colours after a two-month absence caused by a bicep injury. Grewcock joins regular second-row partner Steve Borthwick, who was rested for last weekend's European Challenge Cup victory over Albi, while Matt Stevens switches to tighthead prop with David Barnes recalled in the number one shirt.
Fiji wing Apo Satala returns for Leeds after missing the Challenge Cup defeat against Calvisano because he was on sevens duty in South Africa with the British Army. Satala replaces John Holtby, who has a hamstring strain, while scrum-half Joe Bedford returns instead of Darren Edwards, but lock Erik Lund has flu and misses out.
Last season: No corresponding fixture
Last six league matches: Bath L W W W W W; Leeds Carnegie L L L W L L
Top tryscorers: Matthew Banahan (Bath) 3; Stuart Hooper (Leeds Carnegie) 2
Top pointscorers: Shaun Berne (Bath) 88; Alberto Di Bernardo (Leeds Carnegie) 92
Bristol (7) v Wasps (9)
Bristol are without injured trio Shaun Perry, David Blaney and Dan Ward-Smith, who all underwent surgery this week after being hurt during the Heineken Cup win against Harlequins. Brian O'Riordan replaces Perry, with Mark Regan at hooker and Andrew Blowers taking Ward-Smith's number eight shirt. Elsewhere, wing Tom Arscott, prop Alex Clarke and flanker Alfie To'oala all return to the side.
Captain Lawrence Dallaglio and lock George Skivington are rested for Wasps' trip west, while flanker James Haskell and hooker Raphael Ibanez are on bench duty, although Ibanez faces a fitness test tomorrow morning. Scrum-half Eoin Reddan skippers the side in Dallaglio's absence, with hooker Rob Webber, lock Richard Birkett, flanker Dan Leo and number eight John Hart called up to start. Behind the scrum, Mark Van Gisbergen returns at full-back and Josh Lewsey switches to the wing instead of Tom Voyce.
Last season: Wasps 28 Bristol 0, Bristol 26 Wasps 21
Last six league matches: Bristol L W L W W L; Wasps D L L W L W
Top tryscorers: David Lemi (Bristol) 4; Daniel Cipriani (Wasps) 3
Top pointscorers: Jason Strange (Bristol) 61; Daniel Cipriani (Wasps) 129
Harlequins (5) v Saracens (3)
Flanker Will Skinner is the only forward retained following last weekend's defeat at Bristol, as wholesale changes up-front include starts for number eight Nick Easter, who captains the team, hooker Gary Botha and lock Ollie Kohn. Easter's England World Cup colleague Andy Gomarsall returns at scrum-half after a fortnight's rest, and De Wet Barry replaces centre Hal Luscombe.
Saracens boss Alan Gaffney recalls All Blacks lock Chris Jack, former England flanker Richard Hill, plus props Nick Lloyd and Cencus Johnston for the trip to Twickenham. Injured forwards Matt Cairns and Paul Gustard miss out, but Gaffney is able to name an unchanged back division for the third successive game.
Last season: Saracens 33 Harlequins 19, Harlequins 16 Saracens 20
Last six league matches: Harlequins W L W L W L; Saracens L W W W L W
Top tryscorers: Simon Keogh (Harlequins) 4; Richard Haughton & Adam Powell (Saracens) 4
Top pointscorers: Chris Malone (Harlequins) 106; Glen Jackson (Saracens) 119
London Irish (10) v Worcester (12)
Kieran Roche, who suffered an eye injury in Perpignan last weekend after an elbowing incident involving the French club's England prop Perry Freshwater, is replaced in the back-row by Steffon Armitage, while there are call-ups behind the scrum for Topsy Ojo and Gonzalo Tiesi, with Delon Armitage moving from centre to full-back as Irish target only their third win of the Premiership campaign.
New Zealand internationals Rico Gear and Sam Tuitupou make their Premiership debuts as Warriors boss Mike Ruddock retains the side that crushed Challenge Cup opponents GRAN Parma last Saturday. A third Kiwi, lock Greg Rawlinson, also
Last season: London Irish 26 Worcester 16, Worcester 14 London Irish 16
Last six league matches: London Irish W L L L W L; Worcester D L L L L L
Top tryscorers: Dylan Armitage, Steffon Armitage, Tomas De Vedia & David Paice (London Irish) 2; Marcel Garvey & Pat Sanderson (Worcester) 2
Top pointscorers: Peter Hewat (London Irish) 58; Shane Drahm (Worcester) 103
Newcastle (8) v Gloucester (1)
Toby Flood returns to the Newcastle line-up in a reshaped back division for Gloucester's Kingston Park visit. Flood will partner Jamie Noon in midfield, with their England colleague Mathew Tait moving to full-back and Tom May featuring on the right wing. One change in the pack sees loosehead prop Jon Golding in for Joe McDonnell.
Gloucester boss Dean Ryan makes three changes from the side that defeated Heineken Cup opponents Bourgoin 51-27 last weekend. Scrum-half Gareth Cooper starts instead of Rory Lawson, with captain Marco Bortolami returning in the
Last season: Newcastle 19 Gloucester 12, Gloucester 24 Newcastle 18
Last six league matches: Newcastle L W W L L L; Gloucester W W W W L W
Top tryscorers: Tom May (Newcastle) 4; Lesley Vainikolo (Gloucester) 7
Top pointscorers: Jonny Wilkinson (Newcastle) 100; Ryan Lamb (Gloucester) 133
Sale (6) v Leicester (4)
England World Cup star Mark Cueto hopes to begin his comeback from a calf muscle injury on the Sale bench, but his involvement is subject to a late fitness test, so Chris Mayor stands by. Centre Lee Thomas and number eight Sebastian Chabal, who both signed new contracts earlier this week, feature in the starting XV, together with New Zealand import Luke McAlister.
Leicester head coach Marcelo Loffreda makes several changes following the Heineken Cup defeat against Toulouse, with centre Aaron Mauger, prop Julian White and flanker Luke Abraham among those players handed starts. Skipper Martin Corry moves to number eight instead of Jordan Crane, and Tom Croft starts at blindside flanker for Tigers' tough Edgeley Park mission.
Last season: Sale 25 Leicester 26, Leicester 35 Sale 23
Last six league matches: Sale W L W L W W; Leicester W W L L W W
Top tryscorers: Ben Foden (Sale) 4; Tom Varndell (Leicester) 3
Top pointscorers: Charlie Hodgson (Sale) 129; Andy Goode (Leicester) 111
Toulon's Heineken Cup final victory over Clermont Auvergne may have ended a long title drought for the Top 14 club but two of their players are no strangers to success
We bring you our pick of the best pictures from around the world in the last seven days with the battle for Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup glory taking centre stage
"If you listen carefully you should be able to hear them mining the granite for the statue of a certain Jonny Wilkinson" Graham Jenkins reports from the Heineken Cup Final
Quade Cooper's defence is better than it was 12 months ago and Robbie Deans has erred in omitting him from the core Wallabies squad to play the Lions, Greg Growden writes