With about a quarter of the season left it has been announced that we are into the run in. So it is officially the serious part of the season and here are my round 17 predictions.
First here is a link to my round 16 review.
How did the predictions go?
6 form 6, so great.
Bath v Sale Sharks
Bath were ridding high but have had a torrid time during the 6 Nations and the tournament still has another 3 weeks to go (only 2 rounds though). Luckily for Bath only one of those will have Aviva Premiership fixtures as LV=Cup takes over in a fortnight, for now though it’s still the league. I think that Bath will continue to miss their internationals a lot and with Burgess still finding his feet, they aren’t the same side. As I said above the run in has now started and some people have discounted Sale, for that to be proved wrong Sale must win. As their season depends on winning this game, I’m going for an upset away win with Sale bouncing back from a big loss to Tigers last weekend.
Sale Sharks win
Exeter Chiefs v London Welsh
This is the easiest one to call, Chiefs are in form and will only be missing Nowell at most. Welsh have released a couple of players early and are obviously already looking at next season in the championship. The only concern for teams is that the Welsh players will be playing for contracts and trying to attract the eye of possible future employers. Even so this one has home TBP win written all over it.
Exeter Chiefs win
Harlequins v London Irish
Quins are on a run of 3 losses and along with Bath are the sides that are most affected by international call ups. Irish though have been struggling for wins all season, they did pick up one last week but it was against London Welsh. There has been a coaching change at Irish which can freshen things up and players will be wanting to put on a good show for the incoming coaches next season. However I think that they will lack the quality to beat Quins who, off the back of a better performance last week, will get a much-needed win.
Gloucester Rugby v Northampton Saints
No disrespect to Gloucester but this is an easy one to call too, but in this case for the brilliance of Saints rather than the poor form of Welsh. Saints have only lost 3 times this season in the Aviva Premiership and have coped well with the international call ups and injuries. Gloucester are showing signs of improvements but it is still only year one in a several year plan. So it’s shame knowing it’s going to be a hard day at the office against the current table topper’s.
Northampton Saints win
Wasps v Saracens
This is the tie of the round, both teams on the same points in the table and sitting 2nd and 4th. They also know that Exeter will be picking up 5 points so the pressure is on to keep pace before the 2 week break for the LV=Cup. Wasps have been enjoying life up in Coventry scoring over 30 points in each of their 4 league wins there. Saracens have done OK during the 6 Nations window but have not looked like the machine of old this season. So I’m going for a home win with Wasps ability to nail those half chances over coming the wolf pack’s defence.
Newcastle Falcons v Leicester Tigers
The last tie of the round sees Tigers travel up north to face Falcons on their 4G pitch. Falcons have played much more expansive rugby and will need to do so. The Tigers pack bullied Sale last weekend and will be looking to do the same to give Burns an armchair ride to control the game. Tigers will put more width it than a lot of people would have you think but it will be when they want and have the opportunity to strike. Tigers know how to peak at the right time of the season and that is what they are doing again, so I’m expecting an away win.
Leicester Tigers win