Aviva Premiership briefing

  • Last Updated: March 28 2014, 14:30 GMT

Team news and statistics ahead of the weekend's action in the Aviva Premiership.

Gonzalo Tiesi: Will captain Newcastle on Sunday
Gonzalo Tiesi: Will captain Newcastle on Sunday

Saturday, March 29

Exeter v Gloucester

England wing Jack Nowell is absent for Exeter as he rests a shoulder injury suffered against Leicester last weekend. Matt Jess replaces him, with one other change seeing Tom Johnson moving into the back row instead of Ben White.

England centre Billy Twelvetrees will captain Gloucester as one of five changes from the side that accounted for Newcastle last weekend. Twelvetrees' Test team colleagues Jonny May and Ben Morgan also return, with scrum-half Jimmy Cowan and lock Will James completing the switches.

Last season: Exeter 40 Gloucester 39, Gloucester 18 Exeter 16

Last six league matches: Exeter L L L L W L; Gloucester L L L W L W

Top tryscorers: Dean Mumm & Ben White (Exeter) 5; Jonny May (Gloucester) 6

Top pointscorers: Gareth Steenson (Exeter) 214; Freddie Burns (Gloucester) 152

Harlequins v London Irish

England trio Mike Brown, Danny Care and Chris Robshaw all return for Quins following their RBS 6 Nations commitments. Care teams up with his regular half-back partner Nick Evans, while Luke Wallace switches to blindside flanker and Dave Ward starts at hooker.

Scrum-half Tomas O'Leary returns to the London Irish side, partnering Shane Geraghty at half-back, while hooker Jimmy Stevens starts instead of David Paice. Marland Yarde, Topsy Ojo and James O'Connor forge a powerful Exiles back-three.

Last season: Harlequins 26 London Irish 15, London Irish 28 Harlequins 31

Last six league matches: Harlequins L W W L W L; London Irish W W W L L L

Top tryscorers: Sam Smith (Harlequins) 6; Marland Yarde (London Irish) 4

Top pointscorers: Nick Evans (Harlequins) 184; Shane Geraghty (London Irish) 89

Northampton v Leicester

Northampton show three changes from the team beaten by Sale Sharks last time out. Two of the switches are behind the scrum, where centre George Pisi returns and scrum-half Kahn Fotuali'i starts, while Phil Dowson is called into the back row and Tom Wood moves to number eight.

Full-back Mathew Tait returns for Leicester as the solitary starting XV change following a comfortable win against Exeter last time out. Lock Ed Slater will continue as captain, and Tigers number eight Jordan Crane makes his 100th Premiership start for the club.

Last season: Northampton 8 Leicester 36, Leicester 16 Northampton 12

Last six league matches: Northampton W W W W W L; Leicester D W W W W W

Top tryscorers: James Wilson (Northampton) 6; Vereniki Goneva (Leicester) 9

Top pointscorers: Stephen Myler (Northampton) 230; Owen Williams (Leicester) 139

Wasps v Saracens

Wasps boss David Young has made six changes from the side that scraped a win against relegation favourites Worcester last Friday. Among the backs, wings Jonah Holmes and Tom Howe both gain starts, while there are opportunities up front for Simon McIntyre, Tom Palmer, Guy Thompson and Nathan Hughes.

Saracens show a number of changes from the team that accounted for Harlequins last weekend, with starts for the likes of hooker Jamie George, prop Matt Stevens, flanker Kelly Brown, plus half-backs Charlie Hodgson and Neil de Kock, as Owen Farrell and Richard Wigglesworth move to the bench.

Last season: Wasps 13 Saracens 22, Saracens 29 Wasps 24

Last six league matches: Wasps W L L L L W; Saracens W L W W W W

Top tryscorers: Christian Wade (Wasps) 5; David Strettle (Saracens) 9

Top pointscorers: Andy Goode (Wasps) 139; Owen Farrell (Saracens) 280

Sunday, March 30

Newcastle v Worcester

Argentina international centre Gonzalo Tiesi will captain Newcastle in the absence of an injured Will Welch, while Mark Wilson returns to the Falcons back row and two changes among the backs see starts for wing Sinoti Sinoti and scrum-half Warren Fury.

Worcester rugby director Dean Ryan makes a solitary change as the Warriors go in search of their first league since March 1 last year. Prop Rob O'Donnell replaces Euan Murray following last week's narrow loss to Wasps, with Murray unavailable for Sunday games due to religious reasons.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

Last six league matches: Newcastle L L L L L L; Worcester L L L L L L

Top tryscorers: Noah Cato (Newcastle) 4; David Lemi (Worcester) 4

Top pointscorers: Rory Clegg (Newcastle) 106; Ignacio Mieres (Worcester) 9.