The international players are trickling back into the premiership as we reach round 9. Here are my predictions.
First up here’s a link to my review of round 8.
So how did your predictions go last weekend?
4 from 6 was a good effort with Sale upsetting the form book to win away to Quins and Saints beating Saracens away the ones I got wrong.
Bath v Harlequins
Bath have been impressive at home this season and have already got victories over Tigers and Saracens. Also coming off the back to 2 wins during this international window they have shown that there is strength in-depth. They will still be missing George Ford but Henson has been running things just fine in his place.
For Quins it’s been a mixed international window, picking up a win away to Gloucester for the first time in years but then losing to Sale at home. Quins form has been patchy even before losing players to internationals. This is looking like a trip too far and home win for me.
Leicester Tigers v Wasps
This one was a really difficult one for me to call, Tigers have been far from convincing even playing Welsh last weekend. There are some players coming back from injury but they have also lost players to international teams so more disruption.
In the end it’s Wasps form and not Tigers that has driven my decision here. Wasps have won all their home games and lost all their away ones in the Premiership. For that reason and they are missing their captain I’m going for the home win.
Exeter Chiefs v Saracens
I would normally expect Saracens to win just about every game. But they have only won one of their last 4 Premiership games and are obviously weakened by international call-ups.
The Chiefs are on a very fine run having beaten the Champions recently, are sitting second in the table and have the premiership’ leading try scorer. Tank should be released by England and back for the game so Exeter will have a full squad to choose from. No International call-ups and good form mean a home win.
Exeter Chiefs win
London Irish v Gloucester Rugby
A difficult one to call for the opposite reason. Irish seem to have lost their early season form and are looking like the bottom of the table side I was expecting and not the mid-table climbing side they initially looked like.
Gloucester are a new squad learning new structures from new coaches missing key players. At least they will have some players returning from international call-ups. They will still be missing 8, 10 and 12 however I’m going with a bit of a coin flip and expecting them to take a close one.
Edit: Gloucester will have Hook back at 10 so they will have their SH/FH combo back which will obviously be a great benefit.
London Welsh v Northampton Saints
Welsh put in a better performance last weekend but it doesn’t get any harder than hosting the champions. Unfortunately the only question is how many Saints will win by and the only thing they have to guard against is complacency.
Newcastle Falcons v Sale Sharks
Not long ago this would have been an easy call but since then Falcons have gone on to win 3 out of 4 premiership games. With relegation put behind them Falcons will be looking up the table and wondering if their finishing position could be a single digit.
With the return of their captain, Sale seem to have found some of the form that took them to 6th last season. A very good win away at Quins last weekend will have them full of confidence in their only trip north all season. Diamond has Sharks back to winning ways and I think this will make it three on the bounce.