The last matches of the year in the Aviva Premiership take us to the half-way stage of the season and feature some interesting match ups. Very little will be decided as we head into 2014 but it is likely that we will have a good idea of what things are likely to look like come April.
On Friday night Wasps visit Newcastle Falcons and on current form you’d have to favour an away win. I think Newcastle will have to be happy with maybe picking up a bonus point – but at least that should take them another small step away from the bottom club.
On Saturday Leicester take on Sale Sharks at Welford Road – watch out for the wounded Tigers who were mauled last week by Saracens. Despite the impressive form of Danny Cipriani the Sharks will travel back to the North West with nothing to show for their efforts.
The big game of the weekend will also be in the Midlands where third placed Bath go to Franklin’s Gardens to face the Saints. Both teams have been looking good and although Northampton struggled to win at Wasps last Saturday I think they will grind out a win – but not by much. Bath will get a losing bonus point and stay third.
Bottom placed Worcester face an uphill task to survive and they won’t be helped by the visit of Saracens who will win comfortably to add to the pressure on Dean Ryan’s men.
The final two games are likely to be very close – Harlequins face Exeter Chiefs at the Stoop in a battle to secure 4th place at the halfway stage. The only bonus points on offer will be for the losing side and I think that Harlequins will remain in the 4th and last play-off position.
Sunday sees two struggling sides come together when London Irish host Gloucester at the Madejski.
Neither side have been consistent and Gloucester are currently playing Billy Twelvetrees at fly-half while Freddie Burns struggles to find the form that earned him England caps.
I’m going with the home side to sneak home and leapfrog the Falcons in the table.
To summarise –
Wasps to win at Newcastle
Leicester over the Sharks
Northampton to defeat Bath at home – just!
More problems for Worcester when Saracens turn up
Harlequins beat Exeter – but only by the skin of their teeth
London Irish take all 4 points from Gloucester’s visit
So – that’s 4 home and 2 away wins for me – but I’m not putting my house on it – too many close calls!