After 4 weeks of cup rugby we are back to the bread and butter of the league. Here are my predictions for round 14 of the Aviva Premiership.
How did the predictions go?
2 out of 6, was a disaster from a predictions point of view. In mitigation there were three big upsets with nobody expecting a clean sweep of home wins. Still it was a bad week at the office.
Leicester Tigers v Gloucester Rugby
Tiger are back to something like themselves with most players back from injury. So even though they are missing players to the international window it’s something that they are used to dealing with. For Gloucester it’s something they have had to deal with bu not to this degree. They are missing most of their spine with 2, 8, 9 and 12 all missing due to international call ups. So I’m backing home win here.
Leicester Tigers win
Northampton Saints v London Irish
Saints are top on the table and Irish have only won 2 games in the Premiership since late September and they were both at home. This one has home win written all over it even though Saints are missing a whole host of stars to international duty and Irish are hardly affected.
Northampton Saints win
Exeter Chiefs v Newcastle Falcons
Both these teams aren’t affected that much by the international window. Chiefs have lost their last 4 games in the Premiership but with a good run in both cup that should be out of there system. Falcons are much improved over last year but that needs to be put into perspective as they have won 4 games in the premiership and 2 of those were against London Welsh. Any idea of complacency on Chiefs part will have been removed by the loss up in Newcastle earlier in the season and with top 4 still a possibility it’s another home win.
Exeter Chiefs win
Saracens v Bath
If this were outside the international window I would be very hard pushed to call this one. As it is Bath don’t have the same experience of dealing with the loss of so many players. Add into that the injury to Henson and Bath are lacking a high percentage kicker. This will be a fierce battle upfront and I think that Saracens great knowhow on the pitch will tell for another home win.
Wasps v Harlequins
Wasps have settled in well at Coventry to climb up to 4th place, my only concern for the team is what impact the travel up from London to Coventry is having on the players. Also their style tends to see them making lots of tackles and that work rate could tell at some point. I think they will be ok this weekend as they have had a couple of weeks break with the LV=Cup for their top players.
Quins registered a good win last time out against Tigers. Also getting knocked out of the Champions Cup with Wasps qualifying will mean this game has plenty of bite about it. I just thing that Quins are one of the sides with a fairly thin squad and when they are missing their England stars it really hurts them. Danny Care is available but missing so many members of their scrum I think is going to tell.
London Welsh v Sale Sharks
So 5 home wins from 5 so far, is it going to be 6? The short answer is no. Sharks are only 2 points off 4th place and whilst I think top 6 is more realistic they are still in the mix. Sharks are missing their first choice 10 in Cipriani but the rest of the team is largely unaffected. They will be pushing hard to take advantage of this international window to climb as high as possible in the table.
Welsh had their best chance of a win all season against Dragons last time out and couldn’t do it. I can’t see where they are going to get a win for the rest of the season as it’s all Aviva Premiership from now on and so all the other teams will be battling for Europe or playoffs.
Sale Sharks win
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