Past Simple, Future Perfect
“Study the past, if you would divine the future.” Confucius
Wise words – but what does a dead Chinese bloke know about rugby? Even less than me I imagine.
He lived at a time when they even counted the wrong way – (551 – 479 BC) – which was a bit like me last week, when I made a bit of a Horlicks at divining who would win in R3.
Despite that, this week I’m going to follow his suggestion by studying form. That way I’ll be able to put some logic into my guesses. This should not imbue you (or me) with too much confidence – I was crap at statistics in school (along with most other things too to be honest!).
First up is the Friday night clash between Northampton Saints and Sale Sharks at Franklin Gardens. So far I’ve managed to get every prediction wrong with the Sharks but I think I’m on safe ground with this one. The Saints have won the last nine meetings (all competitions) between the two and Sale have not won at Franklin since 2006.
Although Northampton did go down at Gloucester last week – it remains a controversial defeat and they look too good to suffer back to back reverses. Danny Cipriani may give them a bit of trouble but not enough to matter at the death.
On Saturday London Irish visit Bath, Worcester travel to Wasps, Harlequins play host to Saracens
Bath have lost only one of their last seven clashes with the Exiles and that was at the Madesjki Stadium last September, whilst Irish have not been victorious at the Rec since the back end of 2009. I’m staying with the home side
Worcester Warriors have lost their last eight matches, and have not won away from home in Aviva Premiership Rugby since they last visited Adams Park on New Year’s Day last year winning 6 – 0. So it looks like another homer to me.
This is Saracens’ best start in the Premiership since they won the first 8 games in the 2009/10 season.
Quins have only beaten Saracens once in their last eight attempts. Saracens have also won on five of their last six visits to The Stoop. .It’s hard to see Saracens losing this one – but it will be close – especially if Saracens go to sleep like they did in the second half at Bath last week.
The last two games are on Sunday and I’m going for away wins at both grounds. The Tigers visit Exeter Chiefs and Gloucester make the long journey up to Newcastle.
An away win for Leicester looks the dodgiest of my calls based on form – whilst the Tigers have lost just one of their last six games, they were downed in their last three away games (all competitions)
Their record record at Sandy Park is patchy having won two and lost two, and the Chiefs defence is powerful. The Tigers also have trouble scoring tries down there. In addition they will need to keep their discipline – Gareth Steenson has succeeded with 15 of his 16 kicks at goal this season!
The Chiefs will benefit from the absence of so many Leicester injuries – including the rampaging Manu Tuilagi! But, despite all those reservations, (ha ha! – Chiefs – get it?) I still favour the Tigers – but only just.
I feel a lot safer predicting Gloucester to take all 4 points (and possibly even a bonus) up at the Falcons.
History is less relevant this time with Newcastle having spent last season in the Championship.
Their record at Kingston Park in the last 5 games reads only 2 wins and they have yet to score a try this season.
Although Gloucester’s final kick win over the Saints last week was their first triumph of the season and they do not have a great record on the road I think that their back line will be too much for the Falcons to handle.
So once again I’m sticking my neck out going for 3 away wins –
Saints to stop the Sharks (and Cipriani’s) revival
Bath to down the Exiles at the Rec
Wasps to pour more misery on the Warriors
Quins to lose to Saracens – but not by many
Leicester to grind out a win against the Chiefs
Gloucester to continue their revival up at Newcastle
Finally – in the Rugby Championship, which makes a welcome return after a week off –
The All Blacks over the Pumas – without too much trouble
The Springboks to take down a spirited Wallabies – and by less than the score in Perth
Another weekend in the Layzee boy for me (not a euphemism!) with five live games – and that’s not counting the Top 14.
The wife will be chuffed!