AVIVA PREMIERSHIP - ROUND ONE PREVIEW
Sale Sharks v Newcastle Falcons
The new Aviva Premiership rugby season begins at Edgeley Park for the second successive year: Sale beat Leicester there 15-12 twelve months ago. The Sharks finished off last campaign with four successive defeats. Newcastle Falcons only victory in round one of a new Premiership season since 2004 was 33-12 at home to Sale in 2007. The Falcons’ most recent away game was also at Edgeley Park, where they beat the Sharks 32-30 in round 21 last season.
Sale and Newcastle meet in round one for the fourth time in the last six years, whilst the Sharks have not beaten the Tynesiders since a 14-9 victory at Kingston park on 7 September 2008. Newcastle have won on three of their last four visits to Stockport.
London Irish v Saracens
London Irish have a won four, lost two record in the six previous seasons of the London Double Header. The Exiles finished off last campaign with an unwanted run of three straight defeats, and have won just once at Twickenham in their last six visits in all competitions. Saracens’ record in previous London Double Headers is an even won three, lost three. Sarries, who were Premiership runners-up last season, won their last four regular season matches of 2009/10, whilst their recent record at Twickenham is two wins and four defeats.
In five of the last six encounters between the two teams the defeated side has obtained a losing bonus point.
Exeter Chiefs v Gloucester
Exeter Chiefs join Aviva Premiership rugby and become the 19th different club to play Premiership rugby following their promotion from the Championship last season, and contest their first ever game in England’s top division. Their home ground, Sandy Park, will be the 29th different venue to stage a Premiership match.
Gloucester’s only defeat on the opening weekend of a new Premiership season since 2000/01 was 8-20 at home to Leicester in 2008. Gloucester have won three of their last four matches in the Premiership. The two clubs have met just twice before in competitive rugby, both at Kingsholm, with Gloucester victorious on both occasions: 34-3 in the 4th round of the John Player Cup in February 1982, and 35- 6 in the 6th round of the Powergen Cup in December 2002.
London Wasps v Harlequins
London Wasps’ record in previous London Double Headers is won three, lost three. Wasps become only the second team after Leicester Tigers to play in 300 Premiership matches, with Wasps record in the competition standing at won 176, drawn 12, lost 111. Harlequins’ record in previous London Double Headers is won 2, lost 3. ‘Quins are winless in their last three visits to Twickenham, since their 24-21 victory over Saracens there in September 2008. London Wasps have won their last three encounters with Harlequins and have also won on both previous occasions that the clubs have met at Twickenham.
Leeds Carnegie v Bath
Leeds Carnegie have not won on the opening weekend of a Premiership season since they defeated Leicester 26-13 at Headingley Carnegie in 2002. Leeds have won three of their last four home matches. Bath play away from home on the opening weekend for a third successive season, and visit Headingley Carnegie in round one for the third time, losing 6-10 in 2001 and winning 44-32 in 2003. Bath’s only defeat in their last dozen Premiership regular season matches was 20-43 at Leicester in April.
The two clubs also met in the final round last season with Bath victorious 39-3 at The Rec. Bath have won their last five matches against Leeds in all competitions.
Northampton Saints v Leicester Tigers
Northampton Saints have lost their opening game of a Premiership season just once since 2002: 0-32 at Leicester in 2005. The Saints suffered just two home defeats in all competitions last season – both inflicted by Saracens in their last two matches! Leicester Tigers play away from home in round one for a fourth successive season. The defending Premiership champion club has in fact lost their opening game of the following season in three of the last four years. Tigers have won seven of their last eight games in the Premiership.
Leicester’s only previous visit to Franklin’s Gardens in round one was in 1999 when the Saints won comfortably, 46-24. The last four encounters between the two teams in the Premiership have all been won by the home side on the day.