The first domestic trophy of the season has been won and with the 6 Nations over all eyes will be back on the Gallagher Premiership this weekend. With International players returning to bolster their teams as we enter the business end of the season, expectations are high for some great games of rugby. Round 17 sees Saracens host their London rivals, Harlequins at the London Stadium. Can Sarries bounce back after their cup final defeat last week? At the bottom end of the table, the Bears take on the Warriors where neither side will leave anything in the dressing room in this battle of survival. We also have old 1989/90 title rivals Gloucester v Wasps resuming hostilities in what will be an enthralling match to name just three of the six games that will be entertaining crowds this weekend.
Saracens v Harlequins, Saturday 23rd March, Kick-off @ 3 pm
North meets South London as these local rivals clash on the biggest of stages, with both riding high in the Gallagher Premiership (2nd v 3rd) we are set for a classic in front of a capacity crowd at the London Stadium.
Despite currently being second in the league Saracens have lost four of their past seven league outings which will need addressing if they wish to retain their title. However, they have won all of their last seventeen home games in all competitions so will not fear the visitors this weekend, even though the game will not be played at the Allianz Arena.
In their last game, Harlequins saw their five-match Gallagher Premiership winning streak come to an end with a 7-29 home defeat to Gloucester. Quins have won their last two Premiership away games, but have failed to win three in a row on their travels since February 2013 which is something they will be looking to put right against the Champions.
Both teams are will be welcoming back a host of internationals to their team setups following the climax of the 2019 Six Nations last weekend.
Billy Vunipola, George Kruis and Liam Williams are likely to return for Saracens with Quins fans looking forward to seeing the return of their prop Kyle Sinckler after some barnstorming performances in the 6 Nations.
The previous league meeting this season between these two saw Saracens beating Harlequins 25-20 at the Twickenham Stoop. Saracens have not managed to do the double over Quins since the 2014/15 season but many will expect them to do so this weekend.
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Bristol Bears v Worcester Warriors, Saturday 23rd March, Kick-off @ 3 pm
Ninth versus eleventh of the Gallagher Premiership sees Bristol Bears take on fellow strugglers Worcester Warriors in what is set to be a combative game and a must win for the Warriors who are only three points above the regulation spot.
Bristol Bears have won their last two Premiership matches putting them in good stead for the relegation battle, however, they have not won three in a row Premiership league games since the season 2006/07 and their last defeat was also at Ashton Gate.
Worcester Warriors have lost their last two Premiership games and have failed in their last six attempts to win on their travels with their last away win being that at Welford Road on the 23 September 2018.
Worcester beat Bristol in their earlier encounter this season but have never achieved a league double against the Bears in the top flight. These two have previously only met on three occasions at Ashton Gate with the Bears winning two to the Warriors one which was in the first leg of the 2015 RFU Championship final.
Gloucester Rugby v Wasps, Saturday 23rd March, Kick-off @ 3 pm
Gloucester and Wasps are two of only four clubs that have had been ever-present in the top flight of English Rugby, but their rivalry is nowhere near as well known as the one between the other two teams that make up this elite group – Bath and Leicester. The rivalry dates back to when Gloucester and Wasps battled it out for the 1989/1990 title and has been entertaining us ever since.
Gloucester Rugby head into the tie in good form having only lost once in the last four rounds of the Gallagher Premiership, that being away at Bristol, and last tasting defeat at Kingsholm in September 2018.
In contrast to the Cherry & Whites, Wasps only victory in their last seven matches was a 29-22 away win at Bristol with this also being their last away victory in any competition since the end of September 2018.
In the last league meeting between the two Gloucester ran out 35-21 winners at the Ricoh Arena, but is worth noting that have not achieved the double over Wasps since the 2010/11 season. On the flip side Wasps, most recent victory at Kingsholm was back in December 2014.
Head to head in all competitions Wasps have won 35 of the 56 matches played with one drawn game.
Remaining fixtures from round 17 of the Gallagher Premiership 2018/2019
Friday 22nd March, Kick-off @ 7:45 pm
- Leicester Tigers v Northampton Saints
Saturday 23rd March, Kick-off @ 5:30 pm
- Newcastle Falcons v Sale Sharks
Sunday 24th March, Kick-off @ 3 pm
- Exeter Chiefs v Bath Rugby