Aviva Premiership team news: Billy Vunipola returns for Saracens

The Aviva Premiership returns this weekend for another action-packed weekend of rugby. It all kicks off on Friday night as Bath say goodbye to head coach Tabai Matson with a trip to Northampton.

Attention will shift to the U.S. on Saturday as Newcastle take on Saracens in Philadelphia, while Wasps host Harlequins to round off the weekend on Sunday. Get all the team news below and keep abreast of the action with ESPN.


Northampton vs. Bath

Franklin's Gardens, 7.45 p.m.

Experienced forwards Dylan Hartley and Tom Wood miss out with hand and shoulder injuries respectively. Mikey Haywood takes England captain Hartley's place at hooker, while there are also first starts of the season for Paul Hill and David Ribbans. Piers Francis and Stephen Myler remain sidelined with longer terms knocks.

Young England flanker Sam Underhill will make his Bath debut, as he comes into Todd Blackadder's side alongside three other changes to the team that beat Saracens last Saturday. Ben Tapuai, Kahn Fotuali'i and Charlie Ewels are the other additions making their first starts of the campaign.

Worcester vs. Exeter

Sixways, 7.45 p.m.

Worcester can count themselves unlucky not to have gained at least a bonus point from their clash with Wasps last Sunday, and director of rugby Gary Gold sticks largely with the same side for the visit of the Chiefs. Prop Nick Schonert misses out with an ankle injury, meaning Biyi Alo -- a try-scorer against Wasps -- takes his place in the front row. Gareth Milasinovich returns to the bench for the first time this season.

Following a convincing win over London Irish last time out, Chiefs director of rugby Rob Baxter sticks to the same 23-man squad. The only change sees Carl Rimmer start at loosehead in place of Ben Moon, who drops to the bench.

Sale vs. London Irish

AJ Bell Stadium, 8 p.m.

Josh Charnley will make his first appearance of the season on the left wing against the Exiles, with captain Will Addison moving to fullback. In the pack, Bryan Evans returns to the second row and will face his former club, while hooker Marc Jones starts for the first time since rejoining the Sharks from Bristol.

Ben Franks captains the Exiles at Sale, replacing tighthead prop Petrus du Plessis as one of four changes. Hooker Dave Porecki also comes into the front row, while scrum-half Brendan McKibbin and centre Aseli Tikoirotuma come into the backline.


Leicester vs. Gloucester

Welford Road, 3 p.m.

Still awaiting their first win of the season, the Tigers' only changes for Gloucester's visit come in the pack. Academy graduate Joe Maksymiw comes into the second row alongside Harry Wells for his Premiership debut, with last week's pair of Kitchener and Barrow missing with knocks. There is also a first start of the season for Mike Williams, who comes into the back row.

It's all change for Gloucester as Johan Ackermann makes six changes to the side which lost to Quins at the Stoop last weekend. After making two appearances from the bench, second row Ed Slater earns his first start against his former club while Billy Twelvetrees -- another ex-Tiger -- also returns to the starting XV. Motu Matu'u, John Afoa, and Jacob Rowan complete the changes in the forwards as Charlie Sharples gets his first start of the season on the right wing.

Newcastle Falcons vs. Saracens

Talen Energy Stadium, 10 p.m.

Despite achieving an impressive victory at Sale last week, Newcastle have made three alterations for their encounter with Saracens on Saturday evening. With two wins already under their belt, the Falcons welcome the return of Fijian Vereniki Goneva as the only change to the backs, as Sean Robinson and Nii Latu come into the forwards in place of Will Witty and Callum Chick.

Billy Vunipola makes his long-awaited return from a shoulder problem as Saracens look to recover from their narrow defeat at Bath. He is joined in by brother Mako, who gets his first start of the season alongside fellow Lions Jamie George, Owen Farrell and Liam Williams, who all feature in the starting XV for the first time this campaign. With George Kruis still out injured, Nick Isiekwe partners Maro Itoje in the locks.


Wasps vs. Harlequins

Ricoh Arena, 3 p.m.

As No.8 Nathan Hughes gears up for his 100th appearance for Wasps, Lions Elliot Daly and James Haskell are set for their first starts of the campaign at centre and back-row respectively. There are also starts for scrum-half Joe Simpson -- who comes in for the injured Dan Robson -- and Christian Wade on the wing, as Jimmy Gopperth misses out with a foot problem.

Fresh from an impressive win over Gloucester last weekend, Harlequins have made two personnel changes for their trip to the Ricoh. On the back of an impressive display from the bench, 18-year-old Marcus Smith returns to the starting lineup after Demetri Catrakilis fractured a bone in his throat. Meanwhile Dave Ward moves to hooker as Joe Gray looks to recover from a fractured thumb.