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Gallagher Premiership round 17: Five key head-to-heads to watch out for

Round 17 of the Gallagher Premiership is firmly upon us, and there five huge games in the race for the top four!

Newcastle Falcons get the action underway, as they continue their search for a maiden win of the season against Bath. Kicking off at the same time, Sale Sharks face Leicester Tigers, where a win will take them back into the top four.

On Saturday, there are three matches for us to sink our teeth into. The day begins at Franklin’s Gardens, as Northampton take on Gloucester. Swiftly after, Bristol Bears face Saracens at Ashton Gate as both sides look to cement second place. Rounding off the weekend’s action, we venture down to Sandy Park as Exeter play Harlequins.

As always, there are plenty of superstars going against each other, but which match-ups will define the outcome of the game? Here are five key head-to-heads to watch out for.

Gallagher Premiership round 17: Five key head-to-heads to watch out for

Guy Pepper vs Sam Underhill

Bath’s current number seven against the man looking to take that shirt next season. Bath-bound Guy Pepper is one of the best up-and-coming back-rowers in the Premiership right now, but he will be keen to leave a mark in front of Johann van Graan ahead of next season, and what better way to do it then against Sam Underhill. Both players are solid in defence, and will be looking to disrupt the breakdown all game too.

George Ford vs Handre Pollard

Two world-class fly-halves going head-to-head with plenty on the line, what more could you ask for? Both players are crucial to their sides attack, and play a similar role as the distributer. Both players also have a fantastic kicking game, and with the similarity between the sides their goal-kicking will be pivotal in the outcome of the game.

George Furbank vs Josh Hathaway 

Gloucester have struggled in the Premiership this season, but breakout star Josh Hathaway has been a bright spark. The young back has slotted in on the wing and at fullback, and he has delivered solid performances in both positions. Playing at 15 last week, he stood tall in defence and also offered a solid attacking threat too. His opposite number this weekend though is probably the best fullback in the league this season. George Furbank is so crucial to the way Northampton play, acting as the extra link in their quick attack.

Gabriel Ibitoye vs Tom Parton

It might not be a headline grabbing clash, but these are arguably the two form wingers in the Premiership right now. Gabriel Ibitoye has quickly become Bristol’s main attacking threat, leading the league for meters made, defenders beaten and offloads; and he is also his side’s main ball carrier. His opposite number, Tom Parton, has hit a rich vein of form in recent weeks, and he has started scoring tries for fun. Since the Premiership restart, he has notched four tries in three games, and will again look to cause Bristol problems with ball-in-hand.

Ethan Roots vs Chandler Cunningham-South

The gainline is always an important part of any game, but two of the best gainline carries in the Premiership meet at Sandy Park on Saturday evening. Both Ethan Roots and Chandler Cunningham-South play a pivotal role for their teams in the tight, and both also put their bodies on the line in defence too. They will also be eyeing up the starting 6 shirt for England this summer following the injury to Ollie Chessum, so this is a great chance to get one over their competition.