After two weeks of European action, attention returns to the Aviva Premiership on Friday evening as Round 7 gets underway.
English clubs have enjoyed plenty of success in recent weekends on the continent, none less than reigning Premiership champions Exeter Chiefs who claimed back-to-back wins to underline their potential in Europe’s elite competition after claiming the domestic crown for the first time last season.
Despite their successes, Exeter do trail Pro14 heavyweights Leinster in their pool given their bonus points, but Premiership counterparts Saracens – defenders of the Champions Cup, Leicester Tigers and Bath all top their pools after the opening rounds of European action.
Sale Sharks v Exeter Chiefs
It is the Chiefs themselves who kick off Round 7 with a Friday evening trip to Sale Sharks, with Exeter seeking to put the pressure on table-toppers Saracens, who currently have a single point advantage on them.
Despite being beaten in their last Premiership outing, Sale’s most recent home game at the AJ Bell Stadium saw them put Gloucester to the sword with a thrilling 57-10 triumph, but Exeter’s power up front and flair at the back will inevitably prove too much for them to handle as the defending champions seek to carry their continental momentum to Salford.
Harlequins v Worcester Warriors
Following two defeats in the Champions Cup, Harlequins will be relishing the prospect of rediscovering form on Saturday afternoon as they welcome Worcester Warriors, who are propping up the Premiership table, to The Stoop.
Quins put in a fine display in their last Premiership run out, beating Sale Sharks 42-26, and they will be gunning for a significant bonus-point win this weekend to move themselves up the ladder from seventh place, while Worcester would be grateful for any form of points, with just the solitary losing bonus point on their tally after six rounds of action.
Northampton Saints v Wasps
Last season’s Premiership runners-up Wasps have endured a torrid start to the new term with just two wins from six leaving them 10th in the standings, while Northampton Saints are hot on the heels of Saracens, with four wins to their name.
Prior to the season, everybody would have been backing Wasps in this fixture given Northampton’s disarray last season, but the tables have turned, with the Saints marching on with some sublime attacking play and stoic defensive performances, especially when roared on by the Franklin’s Gardens faithful.
Saracens v London Irish
Saturday’s final billing comes from Allianz Park as league leaders Saracens host London Irish in Barnet, with the hosts looking for a seventh straight in all competitions.
Conversely, the Exiles have lost their last five Premiership clashes and while they claimed victory in the European Challenge Cup last weekend, they come up against arguably the most formidable, potent and ruthless club side in the northern hemisphere, who will undoubtedly win big at home.
Bath v Gloucester
Bath return to Premiership Rugby action on the crest of a wave having claimed a monumental victory over Scarlets in Europe to take their winning run to four games, and Todd Blackadder’s men will be keen to claim a fifth when Gloucester travel to The Recreation Ground on Sunday afternoon.
Having claimed some significant scalps this term Bath, who have taken out Saracens and Wasps as well as Welsh region Scarlets, while Gloucester’s season has been hit and miss with surprising wins littered among a number of embarrassing failures, none more than their recent 57-10 drubbing at the hands of Sale Sharks.
Newcastle Falcons v Leicester Tigers
Newcastle Falcons return to home soil having edged out State Francais Paris in the Challenge Cup last weekend and Leicester Tigers, who claimed back-to-back Champions Cup wins, are the guests in the final fixture of Round 7.
The Falcons have been flying on the Premiership frontier with four wins from six, but the Tigers match their record as well as being on a six-match winning run, which they will be desperate to extend to seven and subsequently leapfrog their fourth-placed hosts on Sunday.