**Karl Dickson is in the hot seat as Friday night lights return with Sale Sharks hosting Bath Rugby in the opening Gallagher Premiership Rugby Round 16 fixture.**
Sharks are undefeated in their last four matches against the Blue, Black and White and will be looking to close the gap on Saracens before the league-leaders resume their domestic campaign.
Like the Sharks, Bath failed to win either of their recent European fixtures so both sides will be eager to get back to winning ways.
Dickson will take charge of the first match of the 2023 Six Nations Championship but will first run the rule over this contest as second from top meets second from bottom.
He will be assisted by Luke Pearce and Peter Allan, while Tom Foley is on TMO duties.
Saturday’s action then begins with a mouth-watering East Midlands derby as Leicester Tigers host Northampton Saints, with Wayne Barnes the man in the middle.
Tigers have found the going tough of late but have endured defeat just once in their last 18 home matches.
With both sides level on 29 points, the outcome of this contest could have a huge say in who qualifies for the top four, with both sides desperate to reach the semi-finals for a second consecutive season.
The experienced Barnes will be aided by Jack Makepeace and Wayne Falla at Mattioli Woods Welford Road, while Rowan Kitt is in situ as the TMO.
The action then moves to the capital as Saracens welcome Bristol Bears to StoneX Stadium.
Anthony Woodthorpe takes responsibility for this one, with Simon Harding and Jamie Leahy his deputies and Stuart Terheege watching on from the TMO truck.
Exeter Chiefs and Gloucester Rugby then close out a blockbuster Saturday, with the hosts looking to register back-to-back league wins for the first time since September.
Chiefs put on a show against Castres in front of a typically boisterous Sandy Park and will be looking to carry their impressive Heineken Champions Cup form into the latter half of the domestic season.
Tom Foley is the man with the whistle in Devon, with Craig Maxwell-Keys and Phil Watters running the line, while David Rose is the TMO.
The weekend’s action draws to a close on Sunday as Matthew Carley officiates London Irish’s battle with Harlequins.
Harlequins have not won in the league since the beginning of December and face a daunting trip to fortress Gtech Community Stadium, where the Exiles have lost just once in the league this season.
That defeat came by a single point to Gloucester in October and it is sure to be another tense encounter for Carley and his team on Sunday. He will be helped on-field by Jordan Way and Joe James, with Ben Whitehouse primed for any contentious calls as the TMO.
**Friday 27 January**
**Sale Sharks v Bath Rugby** **(Salford City Stadium)** – kick-off at 7.45pm, with live coverage on BT Sport 1 HD and BT Sport Ultimate from 7pm.
Referee: Karl Dickson
Assistant Referees: Luke Pearce and Peter Allan
TMO: Tom Foley
Citing Officer: Chris Sharp
**Saturday 28 January**
**Leicester Tigers v Northampton Saints (Mattioli Woods Welford Road Stadium)** – kick-off at 2pm, with live coverage on BT Sport 2 HD and BT Sport Ultimate from 1:30pm.
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant Referees: Jack Makepeace and Wayne Falla
TMO: Rowan Kitt
Citing Officer: Shaun Gallagher
**Saracens v Bristol Bears (StoneX Stadium)** – kick-off at 3pm, live on PRTV.
Referee: Anthony Woodthorpe
Assistant Referees: Simon Harding and Jamie Leahy
TMO: Stuart Terheege
Citing Officer: Buster White
**Exeter Chiefs v Gloucester Rugby (Sandy Park)** – kick-off at 4:30pm, with live coverage on BT Sport 2 HD and BT Sport Ultimate from 4:15pm.
Referee: Tom Foley
Assistant Referees: Craig Maxwell-Keys and Phil Watters
TMO: David Rose
Citing Officer: Greg Garner
**Sunday 29 January**
**London Irish v Harlequins (Gtech Community Stadium)** – kick-off at 3pm, with live coverage on BT Sport 1 HD and BT Sport Ultimate from 2pm.
Referee: Matthew Carley
Assistant Referees: Jordan Way and Joe James
TMO: Ben Whitehouse
Citing Officer: Jay Curts
The post Karl Dickson in charge as Friday night lights returns appeared first on Premiership Rugby.