There is plenty of pressure on all 12 Gallagher Premiership Rugby clubs as they look to finish on a high ahead of the latest hiatus for European and Premiership Rugby Cup action.
With just a few points separating fourth from bottom, the table has been in a seemingly constant state of flux over the last few rounds as the teams have jockeyed for position.
Only Saracens and Exeter Chiefs at the top have been a constant presence, but even last year’s finalists could swap places depending on their respective results in Round 12.
The big game of the round sees Leicester Tigers welcome Gloucester Rugby to Welford Road, but the last league games for over a month are sure to throw up their fair share of drama.
Sale Sharks v Saracens (AJ Bell Stadium, 7.45pm) – Live BT Sport
After pulling off an upset at Kingsholm last time out, Sale Sharks will be desperate to topple another heavyweight when they welcome Saracens on Friday night.
Steve Diamond’s men are enjoying a purple patch – with just one defeat in their last six Premiership games – and ran in five tries en route to their 30-15 triumph against the Cherry Whites.
That last defeat came against the defending champions, however, who have only lost one of their last 18 Premiership encounters – which came against Exeter before Christmas.
Saracens go into the game just one point behind Chiefs at the top of the table, while Sale are up to seventh and just three points behind Harlequins in fourth after going four unbeaten.
#TBT | 🦈 Sale Sharks 14-10 Saracens 💫 @JoshBeaumont1 battles with Itoje in our 2014-15 home victory over Sarries. Can #YourSharks do it again at the AJ Bell tomorrow night!?#SharkTime #ThrowbackThursday @UKFast pic.twitter.com/aefDtiyxcd
— Sale Sharks🦈 (@SaleSharksRugby) January 3, 2019
Exeter Chiefs v Bristol Bears (Sandy Park, 3pm)
The latest West Country derby will see Exeter Chiefs and Bristol Bears face-off once again as the visitors look to get revenge for their narrow defeat in the reverse clash in November.
Rob Baxter’s side were on course for a shock defeat at Ashton Gate after Bristol opened up a 26-12 lead, but the Chiefs were awarded a penalty try in added time to snatch victory.
Bristol claimed a crucial 35-28 win against Newcastle Falcons in Round 11, but Pat Lam’s men will need to be at their best to bring an end to Exeter’s impressive home record.
The Chiefs have not lost at home in the Premiership since Worcester were the visitors in February last year and have won their last six games against Bristol in all competitions.
🎥 | “Everything is stacked against us on Saturday, but that’s the way I like it.”
— Bristol Bears (@BristolBears) January 3, 2019
Leicester Tigers v Gloucester Rugby (Welford Road, 3pm) – Live on BT Sport
Other than an important 35-24 win against Harlequins in Round 10, the end of 2018 was one to forget for Leicester Tigers as they dropped down the Premiership table to ninth.
Geordan Murphy’s side ended an eight-match losing streak in all competitions against Quins but suffered a 23-16 defeat to bitter rivals Bath Rugby at the Rec last time out.
The Cherry Whites are also coming off the back of a defeat in their last game after being downed by Sale Sharks, but they remain in third position after a strong start to the season.
Tigers have not won successive fixtures at home in the Premiership since March, but the last time Gloucester came out on top at Welford Road was in October 2007.
Who could forget this throwback from April 2011… and an incredible draw between the Cherry and Whites and @LeicesterTigers at Welford Road.
A historic domestic clash sees a new chapter penned on Saturday! pic.twitter.com/xXmTyYn1qK
— Gloucester Rugby (@gloucesterrugby) January 3, 2019
Newcastle Falcons v Harlequins (Kingston Park, 3pm)
From the high of finishing in the top four last season to sitting at the bottom of the Premiership after 11 games this season, it has been a rapid fall for Newcastle Falcons over the last year.
Dean Richards’ side have won just three games so far in the 2018/19 campaign, but time is on their side with half of the season still to play – although they need to start picking up points soon.
Things are looking much rosier at Harlequins under the guidance of Paul Gustard, with the London outfit currently in the top four after beating Wasps at Twickenham in Round 11.
Falcons have only won one of their last six Premiership games at home, but the visitors have not been victorious at Kingston Park since December 2013.
— Harlequins 🃏 (@Harlequins) January 3, 2019
Worcester Warriors v Bath Rugby (Sixways, 3pm)
It has been tough going for Worcester Warriors in recent weeks as they have slipped steadily down the Premiership table with three consecutive defeats.
They are currently second from bottom – level on points with Newcastle Falcons – but Alan Solomons’ men pushed champions Saracens close before being beaten in Round 11.
Their West Country visitors are in much better shape, though, after ending 2018 with back-to-back league victories against Wasps at the Ricoh Arena and Leicester Tigers at home.
Bath have not won three in succession in the competition since November 2016, but victory at Sixways could see Todd Blackadder’s side go into the European break in the top four.
📊 STAT ATTACK | No side has made more tackles or won more turnovers than Warriors in the first half of the @premrugby season.
1⃣9⃣6⃣1⃣ | Tackles made
7⃣7⃣ | Turnovers won pic.twitter.com/xEbDJeLYkp
— Worcester Warriors ⚔️ (@WorcsWarriors) January 3, 2019
Wasps v Northampton Saints (Ricoh Arena, 3pm) – Live on BT Sport
While both Wasps and Northampton Saints have a similar record going into Round 12 – five wins, six defeats – their seasons feel very different ahead of their meeting at the Ricoh Arena.
Wasps’ only win in their last 13 first team games was a 32-28 triumph against Bristol Bears in Round 8, with Quins getting the better of them 20-13 last time out at Twickenham.
Meanwhile, Northampton Saints have won their last four matches in all competitions, including a walkover against Timisoara Saracens in the European Challenge Cup.
Northampton also beat Wasps at Franklin’s Gardens in Round 7 – their first win over their rivals in their last six Premiership meetings – but have not done the double since the 2013/14 campaign.
— Northampton Saints 😇 (@SaintsRugby) January 3, 2019