The last round of this block of games before we head back into European rugby, here are my predictions.
First up here is a link to my review of last weeks rugby.
So how did the predictions go last week?
5 out of 6 and the one that I missed was won by only 1 point, so not a bad week for picks.
Gloucester Rugby v Saracens
Gloucester sneaked a good win last weekend away to Exeter but this week they host one of the top teams in Europe. They have show some improvement and are clearly getting to know each other and the game plan the coaches are trying to implement.
Saracens are looking for a clean sweep of wins in the this block of games but they have played the bottom 3 in the league. With Gloucester being 4th from bottom this has been statistically the easiest set of games they could have over the Christmas period. Having had an easier set of games there isn’t the same need to rest players ahead of the European games so it’s a 4th win for Saracens.
Sale Sharks v Northampton Saints
I read somewhere that Diamond is targeting a top 6 finish which is very realistic and will be a good consolidation on last seasons performance. This week they are hosting Saints and it doesn’t get any harder than that. The points gap is going to depend on how many players Sharks have back for this game but I can’t see them beating the league leaders.
Saints are 6 points clear at the top of the table and the only worry I can see is if they don’t take this game seriously. Sharks are a dangerous side when they have their players available and can give anyone a bloody nose. So as long as Saints don’t think about Europe next week I think they will win but if they get complacent at all there could be an upset.
Northampton Saints win
Bath v Wasps
Wasps are on a roll with three good wins including their first away win of the season and two high scoring victories at home. If this was in Coventry I would have to second thoughts but Wasps have only won once away.
Bath are a formidable outfit especially at home where they are unbeaten in the league. Wasps are one of only 3 teams to have beaten Bath this season so revenge will be on the menu. This should be an exciting game with to aggressive backrows and plenty of quality backs to take advantage of any front foot ball, I still see Bath taking this one.
Harlequins v Leicester Tigers
Quins have only shown fleeting signs of their form from the previous few seasons and so they have not managed to put 2 wins together in the league. So having won last week that means they are going to lose this week.
Tigers are getting back into the form that has led them making the playoffs every year for ever. They have only lost to Saints since early October and got a good win over Bath last week to keep them challenging for top 4. This has Tigers win written all over it, obviously they need to put out a full strength side and forget about Europe until next week.
Leicester Tigers win
Newcastle Falcons v London Welsh
There is plenty of talk that they is the game that sends Welsh down, personally I think that it’s all over already. That’s really sad as we all like to see the battles go all season at all levels of the table. Welsh have managed to close the points difference in the last few games but was that more the conditions?
Falcons have been playing well and showing good signs of growth that could lead to something next season. This should be a good moral boosting win to end the Christmas block of games and leave them 19-20 points clear of Welsh. Conventional wisdom says that 30 points is what you need for safety but this season it’s going to be less.
Newcastle Falcons win
London Irish v Exeter Chiefs
As tradition dictates Exeter have performed poorly over the Christmas games with 3 losses having only lost 2 games previously. This is a must win game before heading into the European games if they are to challenge the upper end of the table.
Irish have picked up one win but it was against Welsh and their first points in the league since early October. With talk of coaching changes at the ned to the season there is a sense of frustration from their fans as another season is last without and progress on the pitch. This should be a Chiefs win, but as they showed against Newcastle earlier in the season, they can slip up against the lower table teams. So Irish will go into this with some confidence.
Exeter Chiefs win
Finally, please join my Six Nations prediction league on SuperBru.