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Gallagher Premiership fixtures: five dates for the diary

Round 1 | Fri, Aug 31st | Bristol Bears v Bath Rugby

Premiership Rugby is back at Ashton Gate – and what a way to celebrate its return. Todd Blackadder’s Bath make the short trip to BS3 for a mouth-watering, derby-day season opener in front of what promises to be a colossal West Country crowd.

Last time out, it was the majestic boot of Gavin Henson that secured a memorable Bristol victory, but the new season provides fresh opportunity for new heroes to etch themselves into club folklore.

A final-day victory over relegated London Irish saw Bath sneak into the top six in last season’s Premiership campaign, while Pat Lam’s side stormed to the GKIPA Championship title in some style, losing just once in the league all season.

With exciting new signings and the beginning of a bold new era, the eyes of the rugby world will be on Ashton Gate on August 31st, as the Gallagher Premiership Rugby kicks off in explosive style.

Round 7 | Sun, Nov 18th | Bristol Bears v Exeter Chiefs

The 2016/17 Premiership champions make the short trip up the M5 for another appetising West Country derby in round seven, on the same day Eddie Jones’ England take on Japan at Twickenham in the last of the Autumn internationals.

Rob Baxter’s side have enjoyed a meteoric rise since their promotion for the Championship – at the expense of Bristol – in 2010.

Last time out, Thomas Waldrom’s late try saw the Chiefs secure a dramatic 38-34 win at Sandy Park in April 2017.

The Chiefs were denied a second domestic title by the might of Saracens in May, going down 27-10 at HQ, and are sure to be one of Bristol Bears’ toughest tests of the season on their return to the top-flight.

Round 11 | Sun, Dec 30th | Bristol Bears v Newcastle Falcons

Christmas and rugby go together like turkey and cranberry, which makes December’s festive clash with Newcastle Falcons at Ashton Gate one to savour for Bristol Bears supporters.

With the big day drifting on to the horizon and New Year’s Eve falling into focus, Dean Richards’ side – whose superb 2017/18 campaign saw them finish in the play-off places – head south to take on Pat Lam’s Bristol Bears for a festive frolic, with another bumper crowd anticipated in BS3.

Falcons were far and away the surprise package last season, but after storming to a top-four finish, there will be few sides underestimating Sinoti Sinoti and company when the 2018/19 season arrives.

Round 15 | Sat, Mar 2nd | Bristol Bears v Gloucester Rugby

Danny Cipriani, Jaco Kriel and Franco Mostert are the headline acts as Gloucester Rugby head to Ashton Gate in round fifteen for yet another West Country derby.

Johan Ackermann’s side finished seventh in last season’s Premiership and suffered last-gasp heartbreak in the European Challenge Cup final at the hands of Cardiff Blues – but the Cherry and Whites will play in this season’s Champions Cup and will have hefty ambitions for their domestic campaign as well.

Gloucester’s last visit saw them record an emphatic 32-14 victory over Bristol in March 2017.

Local derby, of course, equals big crowd, meaning another highly-anticipated occasion at Ashton Gate.

Round 21 | Sat, May 4th | Bristol Bears v Sale Sharks

With just two rounds remaining, who knows what will be at stake for Pat Lam’s men come May, with Steve Diamond’s Sharks the opponents for the final home game – and penultimate league game – of the 2018/19 season.

With Springbok maestro, Faf de Klerk and England flyer, Chris Ashton in their ranks, Sale’s visit looks set to be an unmissable one, with the (hopefully) summer sunshine providing the perfect catalyst for a free-flowing afternoon at Ashton Gate.

A stunning second-half fightback saw Bristol secure a 24-23 victory over Sale Sharks at the AJ Bell Stadium the last time the sides met in January 2017.

Follow Bristol Bears return to the Gallagher Premiership by purchasing a season card here.