Guinness Premiership - Round 3 Preview
Struggling Bath head to Sale
September 18, 2009

Round three of the Guinness Premiership kicks off on Friday, with Sale hosting struggling Bath at Edgeley Park.

Steve Meehan's Bath have made a slow start to the season, losing out to Gloucester and Wasps in the opening rounds, while Sale could only back up their opening day win over champions Leicester with a 16-16 draw against Newcastle.

Meehan has rung the changes following last weekend's defeat, with centre Tom Cheeseman, young fly-half Ryan Davis, prop David Flatman, lock Stuart Hooper and flanker Andy Beattie all paying for the defeat with their places in the side.

Opportunities are handed to Jack Cuthbert, Nicky Little, Peter Short and Jonny Fa'amatuainu, while Matt Carraro shifts from the wing in to midfield.

Sharks boss Kingsley Jones has also tinkered with his side. Nick Macleod returns at fullback alongside Mark Cueto and Ben Cohen. Lee Thomas continues at fly-half in the absence of Charlie Hodgson and is again partnered by Richard Wigglesworth. James Gaskell shifts in to the second-row, with Chris Jones earning the nod at No.8. [Teams]

The action continues on Saturday with Gloucester playing host to Northampton. Gloucester coach Bryan Redpath is able to name Lesley Vainikolo and Peter Buxton for the first time this season after the duo recovered from injury.

Elsewhere in the backline, Mike Tindall returns in the centre and resumes the captaincy, James Simpson-Daniel is restored to the starting line-up and Dave Lewis gets his first start of the season at scrum-half. Up front, Marco Bortolami comes in for Alex Brown in the second row whilst Akapusi Qera replaces the suspended Andrew Hazell.

Saints fullback Ben Foden will be looking to underline his England claims with another strong showing while Chris Ashton gets the nod on the wing. Neil Best gets promoted to the starting side at blindside with Phil Dowson switching to the back of the scrum. [Teams]

Leicester and Newcastle face off at a sold-out Welford Road later in the day. Click here to check out our Game of the Week preview.

Saracens looking to follow up their Wembley win over the Saints with a victory against Harlequins at the Stoop. Director of Rugby Brendan Venter has made three changes to his side, bringing in Tom Ryder, Michael Owen and Derick Hougaard to the starting line-up for the game at the Stoop.

Welsh international Owen replaces Wikus van Heerden who has returned to South Africa for a family commitment while Ryder comes in for Hugh Vyvyan. Hougaard is given a full debut ahead of Glen Jackson. Vyvyan and Jackson both take a place on the bench.

Quins have made one change to the side beaten by Leicester last weekend with Steve So'oialo starting at scrum-half, with Gareth Williams coming on to the bench. After impressing in their Premiership debuts, both lock Lewis Stevenson and winger George Lowe retain their places. Quins' new summer signing, Josh Drauniniu, is set for his Premiership bow after being named on the bench. [Teams]

Wasps will be looking to make it three wins from three when they take on Worcester at Adams Park where Paul Sackey will make his long-awaited return from injury for the hosts.

Wasps' Director of Rugby Tony Hanks has made three changes to the starting XV that secured victory over Bath at The Rec last weekend, naming Lachlan Mitchell at fullback in place of the injured Mark Van Gisbergen, Tom Varndell on the left wing in place of the injured David Lemi, and Sackey on the right. On the bench two changes are seen with Tom Lindsay in for Joe Ward and Dominic Waldouck returning from injury to fill Lachlan Mitchell's place.

Warriors director of rugby Mike Ruddock makes just one change to his team with experienced hooker Chris Fortey drafted in with Tongan powerhouse Aleki Lutui moving to the replacements bench. Prop Callum Black also makes a return to the bench after recovering from a knee injury.

The round concludes with London Irish travelling to face Leeds at Headingley. The Exiles make four changes to the team that beat Gloucester in an ill-tempered clash at the Madejski Stadium last time out. The complete front row is rotated as Faan Rautenbach, James Buckland and Dan Murphy make the starting line-up for the first time this season. Peter Hewat takes over at fullback following the injury to Delon Armitage last Sunday. Chris Malone is named among the replacements for the first time since joining the club in July.

Leeds have made five changes to the side that lost heavily to Worcester last Friday. Two of those changes come in the backline with 21-year-old centre Luther Burrell set to make his first appearance for the first team since May 2008 and Scott Armstrong started this week after being a replacement in the opening two games of the season.

Injuries to Rob Rawlinson and captain Marco Wentzel have forced two changes in the forwards with Vili Ma'asi and Jon Pendlebury coming into the starting line up whilst Juan Gomez will make his first appearance of the season in place of Tommy McGee.


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