Rugby Union: Leicester v Gloucester & Newcastle v Bath Preview

Leicester, top of the Premiership on 65 points and 11 ahead of Saracens in second place, should be confident with home advantage of resisting the challenge of Gloucester who moved up to fourth in the league going into this week’s games.

As they prepare for their visit to Welford Road, where another 20,000 plus crowd can be expected, Gloucester’s chances of a shock win have been boosted by Wales’s decision to drop winger Louis Rees-Zammit from their squad for the Six Nations game against England at Twickenham.

Assuming the Wales star is picked for Gloucester, their attacking potential is increased substantially and taking into account that the Tigers have won the last three Premiership clashes against the Kingsholm club, nevertheless, provided he gets some decent ball, Rees-Zammit can cause havoc in the Leicester defence.

Having won 14 of their 16 league matches, Tigers will be strong favourites to earn a fourth successive win against the visitors. The squad that boss Steve Borthwick has put together possess a rock-solid team spirit and on current form will be favourites to claim the Premiership title from current champions Harlequins.

Gloucester on 47 points arrive at Welford Road with two victories and one loss in their last three Premiership games, but if they can produce the decent form revealed against London Irish, beaten 24-7, the Tigers may be in for a highly competitive contest.

One tough barrier Gloucester must overcome if they are to win is the Tigers’ strong defence, they’ve conceded only 31 tries in 16 matches.

Newcastle and Bath Clash in North East

Two of the weaker sides in the league face each other at Kingston Park this Saturday.2022 has not been kind to Newcastle Falcons who’re going through a rough patch having lost five consecutive matches, and the recent record at home is far from satisfactory.

Defeats by Exeter, 15-14, Gloucester winners by 32-22 and Northampton who won 44-8, make for dismal reading, so Dean Richards, the top man on the coaching side, will be praying for a big change in luck as his team take on the league’s bottom club.

Newcastle, 11th in the league on 25 points, must just be favourites to achieve a much-required win against opponents who’ve got a weak record in defence. Bath, bottom, have let in 65 tries in 16 matches and that’s 20 more than the Falcons.

While Bath have struggled all season, only two victories, and are rebuilding for the next campaign, on and off the field, they put up a strong fight against leaders Leicester at the Rec in the last game, losing by only 24-20.

The outcome of this match is hard to predict, it ought to be close with Newcastle just winning by a few points, but Bath returning to the West Country with a losing bonus point.

Meanwhile, Premiership clubs should benefit by the release of players by England coach Eddie Jones who doesn’t need them for his squad to face Wales at Twickenham on Saturday.

For example, Wasps will now have lock Joe Launchbury available for Friday night’s game in Bristol, and Harlequins also in action on Friday evening in Worcester will be keen to make use of centre Joe Marchant.