Premiership Rugby

Gallagher Premiership Round 7 Preview - England Star Returns

Gallagher Premiership Round 7 Preview - England Star Returns

Get ready for excitement in Gallagher Premiership Round 7! Explore the return of an England star and key matchups in this thrilling preview.

Nov 25, 2023
Gallagher Premiership Round 7 Preview - England Star Returns

Following the successful launch of the Premiership derby weekend in the previous round, the league now reverts back to its usual ebb and flow.

While there may not be as many rivalries on show, there’s still plenty to get excited about in Round 7.

From a top-of-the-table clash to a hugely important charity match, the drama continues between the best the English top flight has to offer.  

Game Of The Week

There are a couple games of note taking place this weekend, including the latest instalment of the Slater Cup between the Leicester Tigers and Gloucester.

The contest is always worth a watch, but it's now much more meaningful after becoming a cup game in honor of Ed Slater, an alumni of both clubs, who has been diagnosed with motor neuron disease.

It’s always a heartfelt occasion, however, the quality of rugby probably won’t be on par with what we’ve seen in seasons past, as both sides find themselves near the bottom of the table, struggling for points.

The real clash to watch from a rugby perspective occurs at the Salford Community Stadium, as Bath travels north to face the Sale Sharks on Friday.

The two sides sit first and second in the table and have strong intentions of qualifying for the knockouts later this season. The two sides have a few similarities, namely the strength and size of their respective packs and the high-caliber talents they possess at fly-half.

Bath has the ever-entertaining Finn Russell, who has revolutionized the side’s means of attack since joining in the summer. Sale also boasts an international No. 10 of its own in George Ford and has the reliable Rob du Preez as his understudy.

The head-to-head meeting between Russell and Ford is an enticing prospect, which hopefully should generate expansive play among both backlines.

Bath is riding high after winning two derby matches in a row, while Sale has won three on the trot. It's two of the most in-form teams coming to blows, and if that wasn't enough jeopardy for the neutral, the winner will finish the weekend top of the table.  

Player To Watch

We’re only a few months removed from Ollie Lawrence getting voted the Gallagher Player of the Season. 

Once you get that sort of recognition, it becomes incrementally harder to produce the type of performances people now expect from you consistently.

Expectation creates added pressure, but it looks like Lawrence is thriving under the microscope.

Since returning from the 2023 Rugby World Cup, he’s been in electric form, putting in a stirring player-of-the-match performance against Bristol on Friday night.

Over the course of the game, the England center punched through Bristol defenders with ease, making an impressive 103 meters across the full 80 minutes.

He also beat eight defenders, made three clean breaks, scored one try and assisted another. 

It has been known for a while that Lawrence packs a punch in the contact zone, but what has impressed more recently is his ability to cut the perfect line and glide past tacklers using his nimble footwork.

All that will be on show when he lines up against Sale this Friday.

Storyline To Follow

After spending a couple of seasons tasting success with Saracens, Max Malins made his long-awaited return to Bristol Bears, his former club, over the summer.

The transfer sparked a fair bit of intrigue, given the ongoing success of Saracens – which won the Premiership for a sixth time over the summer – and the relative struggles of Bristol, which lost numerous high-profile stars following a disappointing league campaign.

Malins justified his move back to the west country by saying he wants to get more game time in his preferred position at fullback. With the embarrassment of on-field riches at Saracens, Malins often featured on the wing, which evidently irked him.

Despite that, he still thrived in the back three, quickly developing a reputation as one of the league's best finishers. That got him into the England setup and on the plane to Paris for the World Cup.

Last Friday, Malins came off the bench to feature for Bristol for the first time since 2021 and marked the occasion with a try. The euphoria of that moment was short-lived, though, as Bristol went on to lose against its west country rivals Bath by a single point.

It condemned the club to a fourth loss in a row, leaving them desperately in need of a quick turnaround. The arrival of Malins could be the long-term answer, and you can expect the 26-year-old to be fired up this weekend as he prepares to face his former side, Saracens.

Not only is this game a must-win for Bristol, it gives Malins a chance to show Saracens what its missing with him out of the picture.