Back to the Day Job
England have finished their autumn games and the players have returned to their day jobs in the Premiership.
Northampton, Saracens and in particular Leicester – who have been beset by injuries – will be delighted to have them back.
In the interim the clubs had one Premiership game without their stars and several minor cup games. Without exception they used the cup matches to field teams which gave younger players a chance of 1st team rugby. This weekend the serious stuff starts again and the big names should be on view (barring injury).
It is too early in the week to know the line-ups for the teams and some of my predictions may look a bit off if there are many leading players out because of knocks they picked up at Twickenham. Some teams will also be missing Celtic players who are still away on International duty.
Right that’s my excuses out of the way – here’s my predictions for the weekend – and for once I’m going for all home wins!
Sale will continue the misery for Dean Ryan’s Worcester – especially now he’s lost flanker Jake Abbott to a long term injury
Exeter v Saracens – this is a difficult call but the Chiefs are tough at home and I think they will edge out the visitors despite the return of Farrell and Tomkins.
Harlequins will dispose of the disappointing Gloucester side despite the return of the dynamic Ben Morgan – I had them as one of the top four in my pre-season review and it is looking like a real turkey of a call as we head for Christmas. Gloucester won’t go down but the players will be off on holiday early next year as they won’t be involved in the play-offs. Quins might well be – especially with Mike Brown, England’s player of the autumn series, at full back.
Leicester will be delighted to have the Youngs brothers, Toby Flood, Dan Cole and Geoff Parling back from the England camp and will celebrate by being far too strong against London Irish. Welford road will be rocking all afternoon.
Northampton Saints against Newcastle Falcons is a no brainer. Although the Falcons have surprised everyone by staying out of the bottom three, it is the Saints who have played the best and most attractive rugby by far this season. Although they will be without stalwarts Alex Corbisiero, George North and possibly also Dylan Hartley they will have no trouble in putting away the Falcons and I expect them to overtake Saracens and sit on top the table come Saturday night.
The final game on Sunday will be Wasps at home to the vastly improved Bath. It will be very close but again I think that home advantage will be the decider – a losing bonus for the visitors but all four win points for the Wasps.
On top of the internationals there are these games and the Top 14 to enjoy – so it’s back to the sofa (although I never really left it) and a tray of tinnies and pasties – the wife will be ever so pleased!