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Aviva Premiership
London Welsh hand out nine debuts
ESPN Staff
September 5, 2014
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The new Aviva Premiership season kicks off on Friday evening with champions Northampton Saints hosting Gloucester at Franklin's Gardens and the attention then swiftly moves to Saturday with the annual Twickenham double-header seeing four London clubs in action. Come Sunday, the weekend concludes in Oxford with Exeter Chiefs travelling to newly-promoted London Welsh.


Northampton Saints v Gloucester

Friday, Franklin's Gardens, 7.45pm, BT Sport

Team News: Northampton field 10 of the players who started last year's final in their starting XV with Lee Dickson partnering Stephen Myler at half-back, James Wilson preferred to Ben Foden at fullback and Dylan Hartley captaining the side. Gloucester hand out five debuts with Richard Hibbard, John Afoa, Jacob Rowan, Greig Laidlaw and James Hook all getting the nod. Matt Kvesic misses the game with a foot injury and Nick Wood due to back spasms.

Prediction: Saints by seven


Sale Sharks v Bath Rugby

Saturday, AJ Bell Stadium, 2pm

Team News: Nathan Hines, Chris Cusiter and Luke McLean will all make their full debuts for Sale while Alberto di Marchi is named on the bench is expected to take part in the game too alongside Magnus Lund. The game will also mark Danny Cipriani's 100th Premiership game. For Bath, Luke Arscott is handed his debut with new signings Nick Auterac and Henry Thomas on the bench. Kyle Eastmond partners Jonathan Joseph in the midfield.

Prediction: Sale by three


Saracens v Wasps

Saturday, Twickenham, 2pm

Team News: Alistair Hargreaves skippers Saracens and is joined by George Kruis at lock forward. In the front row, summer signing Kieran Longbottom makes his competitive debut for the club at tighthead prop, and is joined by Jamie George and Richard Barrington. Will Fraser makes a welcome return to the side at openside flanker in the back row as Kelly Brown and Billy Vunipola start at blindside flanker and No.8 respectively.Richard Wigglesworth and Charlie Hodgson partner each other at half-back, with Brad Barritt and Duncan Taylor named at centre. In the back three, David Strettle starts on the left wing alongside Chris Ashton and Alex Goode.

Wasps hand out four debuts with Rob Miller, Sailosi Tagicakibau, Lorenzo Cittadini and James Gaskell starting. James Haskell captains the team with John Yapp and Ruaridh Jackson on the bench.

Prediction: Saracens by 10


Leicester Tigers v Newcastle Falcons

Saturday, Welford Road, 3pm

Team News: Ben Youngs skippers a Leicester side featuring three debutants. Freddie Burns starts at fly-half and is joined in the team by Seremaia Bai and Leonardo Ghiraldini. For Newcastle, fullback Simon Hammersley is poised to make his debut as he lines up alongside four other players looking to wear Falcons colours for the first tim. New signings Juan Pablo Socino and Josh Furno will both start for the club with Calum Green also featuring while Alesana Tuilagi is named on the bench.

Prediction: Tigers by 15


London Irish v Harlequins

Saturday, Twickenham, 4.30pm

Team News: For London Irish Tom Court starts at loose-head in the front row alongside David Paice and Halani Aulika. Captain George Skivington will be joined in the second row by Samoa international Dan Leo and Blair Cowan and Ofisa Treviranus will play alongside Tom Guest in the back row. Shane Geraghty and summer signing Scott Steele form the half back pairing with Eamonn Sheridan and Fergus Mulchrone in the centre. Tom Homer, Topsy Ojo and new recruit James Short start in the back three. For Quins, Joe Marler skippers the side with new signing Marland Yarde joining Mike Brown and Ugo Monye in the back three.

Prediction: Harlequins by five


London Welsh v Exeter Chiefs

Sunday, Kassam Stadium, 2pm

Team News: Piri Weepu is one of nine summer signings making their first competitive appearance for London Welsh against the Chiefs. The others being Tim Molenaar, Olly Barkley, Ricky Reeves, Koree Britton, Taione Vea, Dean Schofield, James Down and Lachlan McCaffrey. Exeter Chiefs hand out debuts to prop Mitch Lees, second-row Ryan Caldwell and No.8 Thomas Waldrom. Moray Low is named on the bench alongside Jack Arnott.

Prediction: London Welsh by two

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