Premiership Rugby

Gallagher Premiership Round 10 Game Of The Week - Tryfest Expected

Gallagher Premiership Round 10 Game Of The Week - Tryfest Expected

Dive into the action-packed showdown in Gallagher Premiership Round 10, as Harlequins clashes with Gloucester in the Game of the Week.

Dec 29, 2023
Gallagher Premiership Round 10 Game Of The Week - Tryfest Expected

Christmas is over, but the gift of rugby just keeps giving, as the Premiership gears up for another big round of festive action.

There are plenty of enticing matchups littered throughout the schedule, from a West Country clash between the Bristol Bears and Exeter Chiefs on Friday night, the tussle at the top of the table between the Northampton Saints and Sale Sharks or the head-to-head battle between Handre Pollard and Finn Russell, as the Leicester Tigers host Bath on Sunday afternoon.

All are worth a watch in their own right, but there’s one game that stands above the rest - the latest installment of Big Game, which will see Harlequins face Gloucester.

The obvious selling point behind the fixture is the setting. The match will take place at the home of English rugby, Twickenham, with over 70,000 fans expected to make the trip to southwest London.

That crowd will give the occasion the feel of an international match, putting added pressure on the men gracing the Twickenham turf.

But what really makes this contest one to watch is the jeopardy involved for both sides.

On the one hand, you have Harlequins, a team that not so long ago looked prime for a title charge, dismantling the then league leader, Sale, in clinical fashion.

However, since that emphatic showing, Quins has wobbled, losing back-to-back games to Toulouse (in the Champions Cup) and Bath.

Neither loss is something to be ashamed of, but the manner of the losses will be a cause for concern. Toulouse and Bath looked relatively comfortable for large swathes, controlling tempo and possession.

If Harlequins is to replicate the successes of 2021 and win a third Premiership title, it will need to beat teams of that high caliber. However, the immediate worry will be staying in the hunt for the top 4.

Following their loss at the Rec, the London club slipped to sixth in the table, and another poor result could see them separate from the leading pack. That’s why they have to topple Gloucester.

They’ll be spurred on by the added bonus of local advantage and the biggest home crowd they likely will have this season, but that doesn’t mean the result is a foregone conclusion.

Gloucester is fighting for its life and will be eager to end a seven-game losing streak in the Premiership.

They’ve been comfortably beaten on numerous occasions since the season kicked off in October, but in the last round, they showed some real fight to run the Northampton Saints right down to the wire.

George Skivington’s men started poorly and watched on as the Saints ripped them apart and looked completely at ease, taking an early lead. It appeared all hope was lost, until Gloucester recuperated and emerged from the halftime break energized and ready to mount a comeback.

The Cherry and Whites even led at one point late in the game and had the chance to steal the win with the clock in the red, as Adam Hastings lined up a penalty shot at goal from the right touchline.

However, the Scotland international’s attempt fell just short of the posts, heaping yet more misery on the Gloucester faithful.

Each game that passes without a win puts Skivington more at risk of losing his job. With his side sitting ninth in the league, six points off Leicester, which is directly above them, the hunger for wins is greater than ever.

And there are plenty of signs they can buck the trend at Twickenham. 

The second-row partnership of Freddie Clarke and Matías Alemanno was imperious against the Saints, while the back line as a whole looked like a genuine attacking threat – a phrase that has been used all too sparingly for the majority of the season so far.

Louis Rees-Zammit was sharp, Ollie Thorley looked dangerous and Santiago Carreras was a difference-maker.

With Hastings back in the starting lineup, Gloucester has all the tools to challenge Harlequins. His matchup with Marcus Smith will be a key part of the game, especially given the impressive form Smith has shown over the past month. 

Much like Gloucester, the firepower for Harlequins sits in the back line, which should give fans watching plenty to cheer.

However, in the end, there’s one thing that matters for both these teams – winning. 

If Harlequins prevails, it'll be right back in the hunt for the top 4, while if Gloucester wins, it can shelf its losing run and build toward a better 2024.