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World Cup winners on show at Leicester as Pollard and Wiese make returns

Handré Pollard and Jasper Wiese, a pair of world-champion Springboks, return to action for Leicester Tigers on Saturday when they host Harlequins at Welford Road.

Pollard’s goal-kicking proved decisive for South Africa in three knockout matches at the Rugby World Cup, with the quarter-final, semi-final and final all settled by one point. The Tigers head coach, Dan McKellar, will hope for a similarly effective display from the returning fly-half along with Wiese at No 8.

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Four England internationals also come back having been rested for last week’s defeat at Saracens: Freddie Steward, Ben Youngs, Dan Cole and Ollie Chessum start. “Those international boys coming back have worked hard this week to get up to speed,” McKellar said. “There’s no doubt their experience and quality in training and meetings has given the squad a lift.”

Quins name the England scrum- half Danny Care on the bench with another Springbok world champion, the centre André Esterhuizen. Marcus Smith is at fly- half having returned to club duty last week in the victory over Newcastle. His Red Rose colleague Joe Marler packs down in the front row against McKellar’s side, who are ninth with one win in four.

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Bath hit back for derby win at Gloucester

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Bath produced a stunning second-half performance to win a pulsating West Country derby against Gloucester 45-27 at a sold-out Kingsholm.

Trailing 20-10 at the interval, Bath turned the game on its head with four tries in a devastating 15-minute spell. Ollie Lawrence [pictured] scored two tries for Bath with Will Muir, Thomas du Toit and Beno Obano adding scores for the visitors, who were also awarded a penalty try as Finn Russell added five conversions and a penalty.

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Gloucester made an explosive start and scored their first try as Chris Harris powered over before Lawrence hit back for Bath. The hosts regained the lead as Santiago Carreras completed an intricate move, with George Barton’s penalty putting them 10 points up at the break.

Bath roared back into contention early in the second half as Muir collected Max Ojomoh’s long pass to score, and took the lead for the first time when Du Toit finished off a succession of forward drives.
Gloucester could not get out of their 22 and Obano crashed over for Bath’s bonus-point try.

Gloucester then conceded a penalty try with their flanker Jack Clement sin-binned for collapsing. They showed some spirit with Matias Alemanno’s score before Lawrence sealed an impressive win for Bath. PA Media

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Big names also return in Bristol, where Kyle Sinckler lines up against Sale, while Max Malins makes his first start for the Bears since his loan stay in 2020-21. The multitalented England back, who scored 18 tries in 19 outings in that previous spell and helped Pat Lam’s side win the European Challenge Cup, has signed full- time from Saracens.

“Sale Sharks are always a difficult team to beat,” said Lam. “But we’ve prepared well on a short turnaround and we’re looking forward to the challenge.”

The hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie is included in Sale’s squad for the first time having recovered from a shoulder injury, with Alex Sanderson’s side aiming to make it four wins out of five.

Saracens travel to Newcastle on Sunday with no place for the rested Owen Farrell, Jamie George, Maro Itoje and Ben Earl. Theo Dan is named at hooker with Lucio Cinti, the Argentina back, on the bench and in line for his debut. Eduardo Bello, another Puma, makes his first start for the Falcons at prop after signing from Sarries.

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Courtney Lawes is set to return for Northampton as they host Exeter.Courtney Lawes is set to return for Northampton as they host Exeter. Photograph: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Exeter, who went top after beating Bristol at Sandy Park last week, head to Franklin’s Gardens to meet Northampton. The Saints welcome back Courtney Lawes and Alex Mitchell but their England colleague Lewis Ludlam is given the week off.

The Chiefs will be captained by the 20-year-old lock Dafydd Jenkins, involved for the first time since the quarter-final exit for Wales against Argentina.

Rob Baxter, Exeter’s director of rugby, rotates his front row again with Josh Iosefa-Scott, whose try clinched last week’s win, on the bench.

“Saints very much back their attacking game, you can’t run away from that,” said Baxter. “Over the last couple of years there never seems to have been a game where they’re not capable of scoring tries. And that obviously creates pressure in itself.”