The 6 Nations might be over but there is still lots of rugby to come. We sneak in a round of Premiership action before the European Champions and Challenge Cup quarterfinals. Will that pray on the minds of some teams? Maybe but for most the Premiership will be the main focus.
Here is my video with my Gallagher Premiership Round 17 Predictions:
Leicester Tigers v Northampton Saints – Leicester Tigers by 3
This Midlands derby is really hard to call. Tigers have been in a bit of free fall dropping down to 10th in the table. Some people are even talking about the possibility of relegation. That would be a major shock to the system for perhaps the biggest club in England.
Saints have put in a couple of performances to pull themselves into mid-table and safety. They then backed that up losing to Bristol at home! They do have a Challenge Cup quarterfinal against Clermont coming up but I think the Premiership is still the priority. It just feels like Tigers need this game more, they are at home and don’t have any distractions so a narrow home win for me.
Bristol v Worcester Warriors – Bristol by 5
Both these sides have Challenge Cup quarterfinals coming up. Bristol will be going to La Rochelle and Worcester will be hosting Harlequins. Both managers probably wish that they had been knocked out so the could fully focus on the Premiership. Survival is everything and surely a Bristol win here would seal that for them.
For Worcester things are looking bleak, sure they are 3 points above Newcastle but they have only 1 win away from home all season. I can’t see them getting the win here so they could be bottom by the end of the weekend.
Gloucester Rugby v Wasps – Gloucester Rugby by 5
There are no distractions of Europe for either of these 2 sides. For many people Gloucester have been the best of the rest for most of this season. They have backed that up beating the top 3 teams in the last 6 games. However they lost the other 3 games to Bristol, Leicester and Sale.
Wasps will see that achilles heal and think they are in with a good chance. However the form says otherwise with 3 losses in their last 3 games and I think a losing bonus point is most likely.
Saracens v Harlequins – Saracens by 3
Whilst both these sides have European quarterfinals next weekend only Saracens will be concerned with it. Quins you feel will put all their effort in here and as they didn’t lose players to the 6 Nations in the same way as years gone by will be hopeful.
Saracens will be resting their England players for the Champions Cup quarterfinal against Glasgow. Even so their squad is strong enough that they haven’t lost at home all season. Sure they have lost their last 4 away games but this game isn’t away.
Newcastle Falcons v Sale Sharks – Newcastle Falcons by 3
This is a must win game for Falcons. They’ll already know the result from the Bristol v Worcester game and know if survival is now within their own control. If Worcester have won though they might be really down coming into this game. That makes it hard to call.
Sale have a European Challenge Cup quarterfinal against Connacht coming up. But trying to secure a top 6 finish and keeping the pressure on for 4th place will be their main priority. With 2 wins and a draw from 8 away games so far this season they don’t make a compelling case. I think the extra motivation for Falcons could see them home.
Exeter Chiefs v Bath – Exeter Chiefs by 7
Exeter have opened up an 8 point lead at the top of the table by winning their last 2 away games. Being 1st or 2nd doesn’t really matter too much as both get home semifinals. However Exeter will want to keep that winning feeling and they don’t have to rest bodies for Europe.
Bath are in the mid-table scrap to make it into the top 6 and secure Championship Cup action for next season. Exeter though at top for a reason and Bath’s away record of 2 wins from 7 games isn’t great so expect a home win.
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