Tis the Season
It’s back to the Premiership this week – with further speculation that next season it might be an Anglo-Welsh league with the four regions joining the English clubs.
That’s for the future for now we are looking at some interesting match ups at the weekend.
The Sharks entertain London Irish on Friday night at what is likely to be a wet and windy encounter up in the North West.
Sale have found some form of late and Danny Cipriani’s form is being tipped in some quarters to deserve consideration from Stuart Lancaster. Both sides are in the lower reaches of the table although neither are likely to risk relegation whilst Worcester’s woes continue.
I take Sale to get all four points without too much trouble
On Saturday The Falcons travel south and west to Exeter where they will face an onslaught from Rob Baxter’s men. The Chiefs were a handful at times in both games against Toulon in the Heineken and I don’t expect them to give Newcastle any mercy – they could well end up with a win bonus point too.
The Saints are in London to face Wasps and will be high from their brilliant win in Leinster last weekend. They won’t be coming down anytime soon and Wasps will do well to get anywhere near close. The Saints pack are a match for anyone and are likely to give Dai Young’s men a very hard time.
The other two games on Saturday are much harder to call – Bath and Harlequins are both going well and they meet at the Rec. Nick Easter and Danny Care have been showing tremendous form for Quins, but I think home advantage will give Bath the edge and they will just about secure a narrow win. Harlequins will have to console themselves with a losing bonus point as they head back up the M4 to London on Saturday evening.
Another tough one is The Tigers away to Saracens – without the horrendous injury list at Leicester they might well have been top of the table instead of Saracens. Both teams are still in the mix in the Heineken but Saracens have had two easy games over the last two weeks whilst the Tigers have had to contend with two bruising encounters against the abrasive Montpellier.
Home advantage and an effective rest should see the Saracens home but you can never write off Leicester and they are now on a roll – should be the pick of the weekend games.
The final game before Christmas sees Gloucester taking on Worcester Warriors at Kingsholm. Gloucester have been very patchy in all competitions this season but it would be something of a major upset if Worcester finally managed a win. They might get a consolation point to bring their total to a miserable 3 for the season so far but I doubt it.
So my forecast for the week has me with 5 home wins and just the solitary victory on the road for Northampton.
Not a very brave set of predictions but I’m feeling pretty confident that I won’t be disappointed. Mind you I thought England would retain the Ashes and we all know where that led!