TOP BAR - Fixtures

Chris Ashton starts for Sale Sharks as teams begin pre-season campaigns

Chris Ashton starts for Sale Sharks as teams begin pre-season campaigns

The new Gallagher Premiership Rugby season takes a big step forward this weekend with the first pre-season friendlies for many clubs.

There are just three weekends left before the new campaign starts with Bath Rugby travelling to Ashton Gate to face Bristol Bears on Friday August 31.

Ashton debut for Sale

Sale Sharks have named 11 internationals in an extremely strong-looking squad for their double header at Heywood Road on Friday night.

Chris Ashton is named at full-back with Byron McGuigan and Marland Yarde on the wings with Luke and Sam James pairing up in the centre.

The Sharks face Championship side Doncaster Knights at 7.45pm with Sale Jets facing hosts Sale FC in the earlier game which starts at 5.30pm.

Weir at fly-half for Warriors

Scotland international fly-half Duncan Weir and hooker Isaac Miller will both make their first Worcester Warriors appearances on Friday night against Benetton Rugby at Stadio di Monigo.

Fellow new signings Francois Venter and Scott van Breda are on the bench as Warriors include 28 in their matchday squad with Callum Black among the replacements

Chris Pennell, Dean Hammond and Perry Humphreys start as the back three with Ryan Mills and Francois Hougaard also included in the starting XV.

Radwan on Falcons’ wing

Adam Radwan is named on the wing after an impressive showing in the Premiership Rugby 7s for Newcastle Falcons match against Nottingham on Saturday.

Tom Arscott is set for his first appearance in a Falcons jersey when he starts at full-back while Connor Collett is named at flanker following his move from New Zealand.

Second row Tevita Cavubati is fit and starts with Callum Chick leading the side at Kingston Park.

Tigers looking at youth

Leicester Tigers’ academy product Harry Wells will lead a young side out against Cardiff Blues on Saturday while new signings Campese Ma’afu and Sam Aspland-Robinson start.

Four of the players who appeared in the World Rugby U20s Championship start including Wales captain Tommy Reffell, Sam Lewis, Ben White and Jordan Olowofela.

Harlequins and Saints start pre-season

Harlequins and Northampton Saints will both start their pre-season campaigns this weekend with the former taking on Championship side Jersey Reds.

Scrum-half Charlie Mulchrone is named as captain for Harlequins with Ben Tapuai, the Australian summer signing from Bath, playing at centre.

Meanwhile Northampton Saints travel to the Ospreys for their first fixture of the 2018/19 campaign with Chris Boyd at the helm as director of rugby.

James Grayson starts at fly-half for the Saints with Ken Pisi on the wing and 7s captain Rory Hutchinson at inside centre.

Dan Biggar and James Haskell could make their debuts for the club from the bench with Northampton naming a 34-man squad for the pre-season fixture.

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