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Gallagher Premiership final: Six key head-to-heads to watch out for

The Gallagher Premiership final is firmly upon us, and the two best teams in the league are ready to battle it out for the title. 

Both teams have named unchanged 23-man-squads for the game, meaning they have also both opted for the 6:2 split on the bench.

For Northampton, George Furbank starts at fullback, with Ollie Sleightholme and Tommy Freeman joining him in the back three. Burger Odendaal and Fraser Dingwall once again start in the centres, and Alex Mitchell and Fin Smith start at 9 and 10 respectively.

In the pack, Alex Waller, Curtis Langdon and Trevor Davison all start in the front-row. Alex’s Moon and Coles link-up behind them at locks, with Courtney Lawes skippering the side from blindside flanker. Tom Pearson and Juarno Augustus complete the pack.

Sam Matavesi, Lewis Ludlam and Sam Graham are the headline names on the bench.

READ MORE: How an injury journal made Ted Hill a hungrier player

For Bath, Matt Gallagher starts in the 15 shirt. Joe Cokanasiga and Will Muir start on the wings. Ollie Lawrence and Cam Redpath start in midfield, and Ben Spencer and Finn Russell are named in the halves.

Beno Obano, Tom Dunn and Thomas du Toit form a formidable front-row. Charlie Ewels and Quinn Roux start in the second-row, with Ted Hill, Sam Underhill and Alfie Barbeary completing the team.

On the bench, Josh Bayliss, Will Stuart and last weekend’s match-winner Niall Annett are the headline names.

But with so much talent on display, who will define the outcome of the game? With that in mind, here are six key battles to keep an eye on in the Gallagher Premiership final

Gallagher Premiership final: Six key head-to-heads to watch out for

Fin Smith vs Finn Russell

This battle would have dominated a lot of people’ Player of the Season debates. Both players have had a fantastic season at fly-half, but both will look to bring different things to the table. Smith is an exceptional field general, and he guides his team around the park brilliantly. Contrast that with Russell’s flamboyant style of play and you have a proper contest.

Alex Mitchell vs Ben Spencer

Another brilliant head-to-head, but this has huge connotations for the England squad moving forward. The pair have been the best scrum-halves in the Premiership this season without a doubt, but again both bring different things to the field. Mitchell is a brilliant running threat, whereas Spencer is the tactical master with his kicking game. Both players are also fine distributors too.

READ MORE: Alex Mitchell: “Everyone appreciates that it is the last dance”

Alex Waller vs Beno Obano

The scrum will be a huge determiner in this game, and the battle at loosehead is probably the main tussle. Whilst not packing down directly opposite one another, whoever gets the better of their opposing tighthead will generate so much momentum for their team. Both players had a field day in the scrum last week too, so it should set up a brilliant contest in this area on Saturday.

Ollie Sleightholme vs Will Muir 

Another battle for England spots. Will Muir and Ollie Sleightholme have had fantastic seasons so far, but will need a big game this weekend to really rubberstamp their international credentials. They are fairly similar players too, in that they can go through you or around you, and if given space to run they will likely score.

Courtney Lawes vs Ted Hill 

A monumental battle at blindside this weekend. Both players are dominant in all aspects of their game, but this season have really improved around the breakdown to become consistent jackal threats. Courtney Lawes already has legendary status, but if was to win a title in his last appearance it would be a fitting end, however if Hill can get one over him it would be a huge marker of his own international credentials.

Lewis Ludlam vs Miles Reid 

Picking out two of the replacements may seem odd, especially when the likes of Tommy Freeman and Joe Cokanasiga are battling it out for an England spot on the wing too; however, the teams have gone 6:2 for a reason. Both players will look to make a huge impact on the game, with their typical abrasive carrying and solid defence, and whoever does this best could define the outcome of the final.

How to watch the Premiership Final

*All Premiership games are available to watch on Discovery+

Northampton Saints vs Bath Rugby

Kick-off: 3:00pm

TV: TNT Sports Ultimate/TNT Sports 1/ITV 1