As the Premiership starts gaining momentum, the spotlight will shine much brighter on newcomers London Welsh, who opened their account with a fine win last week.
And Round Four also has a repeat of last season’s Premiership Final at Twickenham, when Leicester Tigers host defending champions Harlequins at Welford Road.
However, it is London Welsh – the second team in the competition with the moniker of ‘Exiles’ – that have hogged the media headlines.
London Welsh wing Nick Scott said that while a huge weight has been lifted from his team’s shoulders after last weekend’s maiden victory, he insists the heavy lifting starts now.
Scott scored his side’s first try as they came from behind to shock the Exeter Chiefs 25-24 at the Kassam Stadium to secure the Exiles’ first-ever Premiership victory.
That result moved Lyn Jones’ troops up to ninth in the table after heavy defeats to Leicester Tigers and Harlequins to open up the campaign.
And Scott, whose debut Premiership score came on his first start for the Exiles, insists that the result has breathed new life into him and his teammates.
“This week the atmosphere in the squad has just been awesome,” he said.
“The win is a massive result for us and we all feel like a huge weight has been lifted off our shoulders as we approach the rest of the season.
“Coming as it did after two big losses it gives us a great deal of belief, confidence is a wonderful thing and we knew that Exeter were a very good side.
“They are a good template for us as a newly promoted side about how to go about things, to stay up and establish themselves and now they are in the Heineken Cup.
“We have got our first win but we have no intention of resting on our laurels.
“We are not here for the one hurrah, we want to be consistently winning games this season so that we can stay in this division.
“From that point of view we need to screw our heads back on properly.”
We look at all the Round Four action!
Friday, September 21:
Sale Sharks v London Welsh
(Salford City Stadium – 20.00; 19.00 GMT)
Sale Sharks have slipped to four straight defeats in Premiership, but haven’t lost five in succession in the tournament since 2007.
London Welsh obtained a maiden Premiership victory at home to Exeter Chiefs on Sunday thanks to a Seb Jewell conversion of Ed Jackson’s try with just two minutes left for a 25-24 win.
The two sides have not met in a competitive match since Sale gained a 16-9 win at Old Deer Park in the old Division Two in January 1989, whilst the Exiles’ only previous visit to Sale in a major game was in the quarter-final of the 1975/76 John Player Cup at Heywood Road where again Sale were victorious 16-14.
Sale Sharks: 15 Rob Miller, 14 Tom Brady, 13 Johnny Leota, 12 Sam Tuitupou, 11 Mark Cueto, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Dwayne Peel, 8 Andy Powell 7 David Seymour (captain), 6 Mark Easter, 5 Kearnan Myall, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Vadim Cobilas, 2 Joe Ward, 1 Eifion Lewis-Roberts.
Replacements: 16 Tommy Taylor, 17 Ross Harrison, 18 Tony Buckley, 19 Fraser McKenzie, 20 Richie Vernon, 21 Will Cliff, 22 Nick Macleod, 23 Corné Uys.
London Welsh: 15 Tom Arscott, 14 Phil Mackenzie, 13 Sonny Parker, 12 Hudson Tonga’uiha, 11 Nick Scott, 10 Gordon Ross, 9 Tyson Keats, 8 Ed Jackson, 7 Michael Hills, 6 Daniel Browne, 5 Matt Corker, 4 Jonathan Mills (captain), 3 Paulica Ion, 2 Neil Briggs, 1 Frank Montanella.
Replacements: 16 Dan George, 17 Tom Bristow, 18 Arthur Joly, 19 Kirill Kulemin, Ed Williamson, 21 Nick Runciman, 22 Ryan Davis, 23 Seb Jewell.
Referee: Greg Garner
Assistant Referees: Paul Burton, Alan Hughes
Saturday, September 22:
London Irish v Bath
(Madejski Stadium – 15.00; 14.00 GMT)
London Irish have suffered three successive defeats and conceded 40 points or more on each occasion. No team in Premiership history has ever conceded 40 in four successive matches.
The Exiles only win in their last five games at Madejski Stadium came against Gloucester in May.
Bath Rugby’s perfect 100 percent winning start to the season was spoiled at home to Northampton on Friday. Madejski Stadium was one of just three away grounds at which Bath were successful in Premiership last season.
London Irish have won just one of their last ten clashes with Bath: 16-0 at The Rec on 28 November 2009.
London Irish: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Topsy Ojo 13 Jonathan Joseph , 12 Steven Shingler, 11 Marland Yarde 10 Ian Humphreys, 9 Tomás O’Leary, 8 Ofisa Treviranus 7 Jamie Gibson, 6 Declan Danaher (captain), 5 Matt Garvey, 4 Bryn Evans , 3 Halani Aulika , 2 Scott Lawson , 1 Max Lahiff.
Replacements:16 David Paice , 17 Jerry Yanuyanutawa , 18 Alan Cotter, 19 George Skivington, 20 Jon Fisher, 21 Anthony Watson, 22 Shane Geraghty , 23 Jack Moates
Bath: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 Kyle Eastmond, 13 Dan Hipkiss, 12 Ben Williams, 11 Tom Biggs, 10 Olly Barkley, 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Simon Taylor, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Carl Fearns, 5 Dominic Day, 4 Stuart Hooper (captain), 3 Anthony Perenise, 2 Lee Mears, 1 Nathan Catt.
Replacements: 16 Ross Batty, 17 Paul James, 18 Kane Palma-Newport, 19 Dave Attwood, 20 Ben Skirving, 21 Mark McMillan, 22 Stephen Donald, 23 Jack Cuthbert.
Referee: JP Doyle
Assistant Referees: Andrew Pearce, Kevin Stewart
Northampton Saints v Worcester Warriors
(Franklin’s Gardens – 15.00; 14.00 GMT)
Northampton Saints maintained their 100 percent winning start to the new Premiership campaign with their 18-14 victory at Bath on Friday.
The Saints lost just twice at Franklin’s Gardens in the Premiership last season – to London Irish in September and Leicester in April.
Worcester Warriors halted their run of six successive defeats with their 16-all draw at home to Gloucester, but the Warriors have still only won once on the road in the competition since April 2009: 6-0 at Wasps on New Year’s Day 2012.
The two Premiership fixtures between the sides last season were both won by the home side on the day, whilst the Warriors have not been victorious at Franklin’s Gardens since 1 January 2007.
Northampton: 15 James Wilson, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 George Pisi, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 Vasily Artemyev, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 Rhys Oakley, 7 Phil Dowson, 6 Courtney Lawes, 5 Christian Day, 4 Samu Manoa, 3 Paul Doran Jones, 2 Dylan Hartley (captain), 1 Soane Tonga’uiha.
Replacements: 16 Mike Haywood, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Brian Mujati, 19 Mark Sorenson, 20 Tom Wood, 21 Martin Roberts, 22 Ryan Lamb, 23 Dom Waldouck.
Worcester: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Nikki Walker, 13 Alex Grove, 12 Joe Carlisle, 11 David Lemi, 10 Andy Goode, 9 Shaun Perry, 8 Semisi Taulava, 7 Sam Betty, 6 Chris Jones, 5 Dean Schofield (captain), 4 James Percival, 3 John Andress, 2 Aleki Lutui, 1 Matt Mullan.
Replacements: 16 Ollie Hayes, 17 Ceri Jones, 18 James Currie, 19 Craig Gillies, 20 Matt Kvesic, 21 Jonny Arr, 22 Josh Matavesi, 23 Josh Drauniniu.
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth
Assistant Referees: Stuart Terheege, Peter Huckle
Gloucester v London Wasps
(Kingsholm – 15.15; 14.15 GMT)
Gloucester Rugby’s solo victory in their last nine encounters was 40-31 at London Irish in round two.
Gloucester have now slipped to four successive home defeats but haven’t lost five in a row at Kingsholm since 1995.
London Wasps ended an unwanted sequence of five consecutive defeats in Premiership with their 43-14 victory over London Irish at Adams Park on Saturday. Wasps most recent win away from home in the Premiership came at Worcester last October.
Each side won its respective home game in last season’s Premiership campaign, whilst Wasps only success at Kingsholm since 2006 was 35-6 on 24 October 2009.
Gloucester: 15 Rob Cook, 14 Jonny May, 13 Henry Trinder, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 James Simpson-Daniel, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Ben Morgan. 7 Andy Hazell, 6 Sione Kalamafoni, 5 Jim Hamilton (captain), 4 Tom Savage, 3 Rupert Harden, 2 Darren Dawidiuk, 1 Nick Wood.
Replacements: 16 Huia Edmonds, 17 Dan Murphy, 18 Shaun Knight, 19 Will James, 20 Akapusi Qera, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 Mike Tindall, 23 Martyn Thomas.
London Wasps: 15 Tommy Bell, 14 Tom Varndell, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Andrea Masi, 11 Christian Wade, 10 Stephen Jones, 9 Joe Simpson, 8 Ashley Johnson, 7 Jonathan Poff, 6 James Haskell, 5 Marco Wentzel (captain), 4 Tom Palmer, 3 Zak Taulafo, 2 T Rhys Thomas, 1 Tim Payne.
Replacements: 16 Tom Lindsay, 17 Simon McIntyre, 18 Fabio Staibano, 19 James Cannon, 20 Billy Vunipola, 21 Charlie Davies, 22 Nick Robinson, 23 Jack Wallace.
Referee: Martin Fox
Assistant Referees: Nigel Carrick, Andrew Watson. TMO: Graham Hughes
Leicester Tigers v Harlequins
(Welford Road – 17.30; 16.30 GMT)
Leicester Tigers are unbeaten in the regular season of Premiership since they visited Exeter on 11 February and lost 11-19.
Tigers have not lost in any competition at Welford Road since Harlequins were the visitors on 8 October 2010.
Harlequins, the defending Premiership champions, have made the perfect start to their defence in picking up maximum points from the first three rounds, something no side has achieved before.
Quins are unbeaten away from home in the tournament since they visited Gloucester on 25 February.
This is a repeat of last season’s Premiership final at Twickenham, whilst the previous three meetings in the league phase of the competition were won by the away side on the day. Quins’ 27-18 victory at Welford Road in October was their first in the Premiership at the famous old venue.
Leicester: 15 Scott Hamilton, 14 Niall Morris, 13 Matt Smith, 12 Anthony Allen, 11 Vereniki Goneva, 10 Toby Flood, 9 Sam Harrison, 8 Jordan Crane (captain), 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Steve Mafi, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Graham Kitchener, 3 Martin Castrogiovanni, 2 Tom Youngs, 1 Boris Stankovich.
Replacements: 16 George Chuter, 17 Dan Cole, 18 Logovi’i Mulipola, 19 Rob Andrew, 20 Thomas Waldrom, 21 Patrick Phibbs, 22 George Ford, 23 Adam Thompstone.
Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Tom Williams, 13 Matt Hopper, 12 Jordan Turner Hall, 11 Ugo Monye, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Danny Care, 8 Nick Easter, 7 Chris Robshaw (captain), 6 Maurie Fa’asavalu, 5 George Robson, 4 Olly Kohn, 3 James Johnston, 2 Joe Gray, 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Rob Buchanan, 17 Darryl Marfo, 18 Will Collier, 19 Charlie Matthews, 20 Tom Guest, 21 Karl Dickson, 22 Rory Clegg, 23 Ross Chisholm.
Referee: David Pearson
Assistant Referees: TBC, Robin Goodliffe. TMO: Trevor Fisher
Sunday, September 23:
Exeter Chiefs v Saracens
(Sandy Park – 14.15; 13.15 GMT)
Exeter Chiefs’ solitary victory in their last five Premiership encounters was 43-6 at home to Sale in round one.
The Chiefs have won three of their last four games at Sandy Park in the competition.
Saracens preserved their unbeaten start to the new season with the 9-all draw with Leicester at Wembley Stadium on Saturday. Sarries have won their last four away games in the regular season of Premiership.
Exeter’s only victory over Saracens so far came in their first ever clash in the Premiership at Vicarage Road on 30 October 2010.
Exeter: 15 Luke Arscott, 14 Phil Dollman, 13 Ian Whitten, 12 Sireli Naqelevuki, 11 Matt Jess, 10 Ignacio Mieres, 9 Haydn Thomas, 8 Richard Baxter, 7 James Scaysbrook, 6 James Phillips, 5 James Hanks, 4 Tom Hayes (captain), 3 Carl Rimmer, 2 Chris Whitehead, 1 Brett Sturgess.
Replacements: 16 Simon Alcott, 17 Ben Moon, 18 Chris Budgen, 19 Aly Muldowney, 20 Ben White, 21 Will Chudley, 22 Gareth Steenson, 23 Jack Nowell.
Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Duncan Taylor, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 James Short, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Neil de Kock, 8 Jackson Wray, 7 Will Fraser, 6 Kelly Brown (captain), 5 Mouritz Botha, 4 Alistair Hargreaves, 3 Carlos Nieto, 2 Jamie George, 1 Mako Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Rhys Gill, 18 Matt Stevens, 19 Steve Borthwick, 20 Ernst Joubert, 21 Richard Wigglesworth, 22 Charlie Hodgson, 23 Joel Tomkins.
Referee: David Rose
Assistant Referees: Paul Dix, Ashley Rowden TMO: David Grashoff