Normally by this time of year we are half way through the season, due to the different schedule this time it’s about a third complete. Here are my predictions for the first round of games in the new year.
First here is a link to my review of round 7.
How did your predictions go in the last round?
4 from 6, which is OK considering there was a draw.
Northampton Saints v Exeter Chiefs
I thought that Saints were getting themselves into some form but a loss away to Irish shows what a struggling season they are having. Saints might sit 5th in the Premiership but they have a losing record and with a certain combination of results could drop 3 places this round. The Chiefs keep producing impressive displays and are coming off the back of 6 wins with the last two also earning TBPs. It would be a bit much to expect another TBP but I’m backing them to add another win to the double from last season.
Exeter Chiefs by 7
Gloucester Rugby v London Irish
Gloucester fought out a high scoring draw last weekend with Quins. They were the recipients of a couple of intercept tries where the pace of their back division was on show. Irish managed their first league win of the season at home against Saints. They showed much more fight and maybe it will be the turning point of their season. I still can’t see them over coming Gloucester who have only lost to Saracens at home.
Gloucester Rugby by 7
Newcastle Falcons v Bath
Falcons are still looking for their first league win of the season and have slipped to last place with Irish’s win over Saints. Bath’s season has been win, lose two, win, lose two and win. So if the run is to continue they are heading for a loss this weekend. I can’t see that happening though with the old cliché that they have too much class for Falcons.
Falcons have a new recruit in Andy Goode who has been brought in as a temporary injury replacement. Having only been with the club for a couple of days he won’t know the systems and so I can’t se him starting. It does however add interest to the game and even more to Falcons visit to Irish in the next round of the Premiership.
Bath by 5
Saracens v Leicester Tigers
The all conquering Saracens are hosting third placed Tigers this weekend. This will be their biggest test yet in the Premiership having not faced any of the other top 4 teams. As you will see below most people are expecting a home win and it is hard to see past that. Tigers have surprised many of us and with only 8 tries given up it’s clear that it’s been built on defence first even though the attack has been getting a lot of attention. This weekend they are up against an even measlier defence who have only given up 5 tries. So Tigers will need to show more in attack and I don’t think they have developed that side of their game enough yet.
BTW Do you like the inclusion of the odd Twitter poll?
Saracens by 10
Sale Sharks v Wasps
These sides are separated by only 1 point in the table however if you listened to the coverage you would think there was a bigger gap. Sale have not lost at home yet in the league and are one of those sides that plays much better at home than away. Wasps have been in constant beating the best in Europe on week and then losing to a struggling side the next. To be fair all their losses the league have been to the top 4 teams. I’m still going to go with the home side in this one but I think it will be close.
Sale Sharks by 3
Worcester Warriors v Harlequins
Warriors are clinging on with their finger nails to the middle table pack of teams. They haven’t won in the league since the beginning of November though and have slipped back to 10th in the table. Hosting Quins who are one of the form teams this season even if they did try to force it too much last weekend, is no easy task. Quins will be disappointed with the Big Game result against Gloucester. They will be looking to bounce back from that draw as this is a good weekend for them to strengthen their hold on a playoff position.
Harlequins by 10