Robshaw misses out for Harlequins
May 3, 2013
Can Harlequins finish their season on a winning note in front of the ESPN cameras? © Getty Images
The final round of the Aviva Premiership is finally here. It only seems like yesterday the ESPNscrum team was strolling into Twickenham for the opening double header of the campaign but after 21 rounds of pulsating action, we have come down to the last weekend of the normal season. We already know London Welsh will finish at the foot of the table while Saracens have secured a home semi-final. But there is still plenty to play for with a full run-down of the last weekend's permutations neatly summarised here.
And ahead of round 22, we give you all the team news from around the Premiership.
Harlequins v Northampton Saints
Harlequins are on the verge of finishing third and a win over Northampton will secure that spot. England captain Chris Robshaw misses out due to injury and Quins make four changes ahead of the match.Tom Casson is named in the centres, partnering George Lowe while in the forwards, Rob Buchanan starts at hooker, while Olly Kohn makes his 100th Premiership appearance. Tom Guest comes in for Maurie Fa'savalu and is joined in the back row with Luke Wallace and captain, Nick Easter.
Northampton make two changes from the side that hammered Sale in round 21 with George Pisi starting in the centres and Calum Clark coming into the back-row for Phil Dowson.
Exeter Chiefs v Gloucester Rugby
Exeter know a win will cement their place in the top six and their Sandy Park faithful will bid farewell to Richie Baxter and Chris Budgen who are both retiring at the end of the season. And coach Rob Baxter has opted to name the same 23-man squad that defeated Wasps in round 21.
Gloucester also name an unchanged first XV but Nigel Davies has opted to make some changes on the bench with hooker Darren Dawidiuk back after suspension while Mike Tindall and Shane Monahan come in for Ryan Mills and Martyn Thomas.
Saracens v Bath Rugby
Saracens can cement top spot in the league if they come out of the match with at least two points and they are leaving nothing to chance with Mark McCall naming a strong side. Chris Wyles, Charlie Hodgson, Neil de Kock and Andy Saull all come into the starting line-up with Wyles replacing the rested Alex Goode at full back while Hodgson comes in at fly-half with Owen Farrell switching to inside centre in place of the injured Brad Barritt. There is also a change in the back row with Saull returning to the side with Ernst Joubert missing the game due to injury.
Following Bath's impressive win over Leicester, they have refrained from making any changes to the starting line-up while Tom Biggs is named on the bench.
Leicester Tigers v London Irish
Leicester know a win will book a home semi-final and Richard Cockerill has handed recalls to Geordan Murphy and Martin Castrogiovanni for the match. There is also a change on the wing as Vereniki Goneva comes into the line-up. All six Tigers named in the British & Irish Lions squad earlier this week are included in the matchday 23, with starting places for Manu Tuilagi, Ben Youngs, Tom Youngs, Geoff Parling and Tom Croft while Dan Cole is named among the replacements.
George Skivington captains the Exiles with Alex Corbisiero, Scott Lawson and Halani Aulika forming the front row. Bryn Evans will partner Skivington in the second row and Matt Garvey, Jamie Gibson and Ofisa Treviranus make up the back row. Darren Allinson will partner Ian Humphreys in the halves with Guy Armitage and Jonathan Joseph in the centres. Topsy Ojo, Marland Yarde and Tom Homer are named in the back three.
Sale Sharks v London Wasps
Sale make wholesale changes for the match with Mark Cueto named at fullback and Will Addison and Tom Brady on the flanks. Johnny Leota and Sam Tuitopou are in the centres while Nick MacLeod and Dwayne Peel link up at half-back. Alasdair Dickinson, Marc Jones and Henry Thomas form the front-row while Kearnan Myall and Andrei Ostrikov are the locks. David Seymour skippers the team in the back-row alongside Dan Braid and James Gaskell.
Christian Wade makes his 50th appearance for Wasps while it is a final appearance in Wasps colours for Billy Vunipola who starts at number 8. Replacements Zak Taualfo, Jonathan Poff, T Rhys Thomas and Lorenzo Romano are also poised to run out for Dai Young's men for the last time.
London Welsh v Worcester Warriors
Lyn Jones has made six changes with James Lewis replacing the injured Sonny Parker at inside centre, while Rob Lewis comes in at scrum half for Tyson Keats. There's one change in the front row with Arthur Joly named at tighthead in place of Paulica Ion, while it's all change in the back row. Daniel Browne moves to blindside flanker, with Alfie To'oala taking over the number eight jersey. Lee Beach, who has already announced his retirement from professional rugby at the end of the season, comes into the side at openside flanker in place of Michael Hills.
Worcester hand Richard de Carpentier his Premiership debut in one of three changes from the team that lost to Harlequins. Andy Short and Sam Betty are also recalled to the side.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
"These little deft touches, the nuances O'Driscoll has perfected are what Ireland will miss most." Tom Hamilton on Brian O'Driscoll's final Test in Dublin
Last year's thrashing at the hands of Wales was not the first time England have fallen to their rivals. Scrum Sevens looks at whether they have bounced back the following year
With just two rounds left in the 2014 championship, the intensity cranks up a notch at Twickenham. Tom Hamilton previews the weekend's action
"I had a perfect record against England as did a few other Welshmen. England always seemed to bring the best out of us." John Taylor on the age-old rivalry