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Aviva Premiership - Round 6
Sarries out to continue winning run against Saints
Tom Hamilton
October 25, 2013
It's all to play for in the Premiership © PA Photos
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After two weekends of Heineken Cup action, the Aviva Premiership is thrust back into the spotlight before the attention switches to the international stage. Stuart Lancaster has retained a number of players in the England camp but has released 10 back to their respective Premiership clubs. They will hope to show the England management what they are capable of ahead of the Test against Australia on November 2 and while there may be some new faces running out at Twickenham, there will be an old, familiar, grizzled coach sitting proudly in the stands at Adams Park on Sunday.

Watch out fourth officials, Richard Cockerill is back after serving his nine-match suspension for his conduct during the Aviva Premiership final. In his absence, the calmer Paul Burke has led Tigers to three wins from five in the top flight and Leicester are sitting pretty in third. They will hope Cockerill's return will help their charge up the table.

Team News

  • England's Dave Attwood and Kyle Eastmond start for Bath.
  • Gloucester retain just six of the side who played Munster.
  • George North is not in the Saints' squad as they change six for Saracens
  • Richard Barrington makes debut for Saracens while Nils Mordt starts at fly-half
  • Elliot Daly, Tom Palmer and Ashley Johnson all return to the Wasps starting team
  • Chris Hala'ufia returns to the London Irish back row
  • Rory Clegg and Mike Blair start at half-back for Newcastle
  • Marcos Ayerza returns for Leicester while Owen Williams and Terrence Hepetema start
  • Danny Care is benched by Harlequins with Nick Easter captain
  • The weekend in numbers - Number Crunch

The weekend's action kicks off on Friday with Bath hosting rivals Gloucester at the Rec. Come Saturday, the attention switches to Franklin's Gardens as Saints host Saracens while Sale travel to Harlequins and Sandy Park sees Exeter taking on Worcester. And on Sunday, London Wasps host the Tigers and London Irish make the long trip to Newcastle.

In form

Saracens are the team to beat in the Premiership with five wins from five and 19 points to their name. They come up against the Saints who are in second and despite both teams being without a few of their England contingent, it should be a great match at Franklin's Gardens.

Player wise, Stephen Myler is the form fly-half in the Premiership while Sarries' Jacques Burger will be the man to watch against the Saints. In the try-scoring stakes, Marland Yarde has been retained by England so he cannot add to his four scores while David Strettle may feel he has a point to prove after being overlooked by the national side.

Out of form

The guillotine is hovering above Worcester. Five games in and no wins, things are looking bleak for Dean Ryan's team. After losing to Newcastle in round five, they would have hoped to find some form on the European stage, but alas, they fell to two defeats. A trip to Sandy Park against an Exeter Chiefs team who are playing as well as ever is likely to give them scant reward.

Key area to watch

Keep an eye on the 10 England players released by Lancaster earlier this week. On Friday evening, Dave Attwood and Kyle Eastmond will be in action for Bath while Freddie Burns and Matt Kvesic play for Gloucester. Come Saturday, Luther Burrell, Danny Care, Ben Foden, Alex Goode and Tom Johnson will all hope to show what they are capable of and on Sunday, attention switches to Wasps where Christian Wade is expected to be on the flank.

Trivia

  • Worcester Warriors have not won a game in any competition since London Wasps visited Sixways on March 1. The Warriors have won only one of their last 35 away games in the Premiership since April 2009: 6-0 at Wasps on New Year's Day 2012.
  • Leicester Tigers have lost just once in the Premiership since April: 27-20 at Bath in round two. The Tigers have tallied at least one league point from every game in the competition since round four last season.
  • The Saints' victory at Allianz Park in May ended a three game losing run to Saracens, including a 16-6 victory on their most recent visit to Franklin's Gardens a day short of 12 months ago.

Stats

  • Owen Farrell is the league's top points-scorer but Stephen Myler is leading the way on kicking accuracy with a rate of 88%.
  • There has been just one red card in the Premiership this season - Gloucester's Nick Wood.
  • James Simpson-Daniel becomes Gloucester's record Premiership appearance holder on Friday evening - surpassing Peter Buxton's 183 games.

Betting

Fancy record-breaker James Simpson-Daniel to score first at the Rec on Friday evening? bet365 are offering prices of 12/1on him to achieve that feat. In the wider picture, Saracens are out and out favourites to finish at the top of the Premiership but Northampton at 10/3 could be worth a punt.

Predictions

Bath will win on Friday evening while on Saturday, there will be triumphs for Saints, Harlequins and Exeter. Come Sunday, Leicester and Newcastle will emerge victorious.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
Tom Hamilton is the Assistant Editor of ESPNscrum.
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