Back to the day job of the league and we are not the run in with people trying to figure out who will make the playoffs. It’s going to get a bit disjointed as we flip between the league and Europe over the next 6 weeks. Anyway here are my predictions for round 18 of the Aviva Premiership.
If you wan to remind yourself how the last round went here is a link to my review.
How did the predictions go last round?
3 from 6, so a bit of a bump to earth after only getting 2 wrong (including a draw) over the previous 3 weeks.
I found this round really hard as there are some tight matches and also so many players have been away from their clubs on international duty. How knackered will the international players be and how quickly can they reintegrate into their club sides?
Northampton Saints v Wasps
Saints are 9 points clear at the top and will be wanting to secure their home semi-final playoff spot as soon as possible. Wasps have been the talk of the town with some big wins in their new home. But Wasps away form is poor having only beaten Gloucester away. Also Saints have only lost at home to Exeter, so this has home win written all over it.
Saints by 9
Leicester Tigers v Exeter Chiefs
I found this one really difficult to call and part of that is that I’m an Exeter supporter who’s trying to stay impartial. There was a study in the USA that found fans are statistically worse at predicting their own teams results over other teams. Anyway here I go.
Both sides are in good form having won their last 4 league games, also these sides met 2 weeks ago in the LV=Cup where Exeter won at Welford Road. I don’t think that result will have any impact on this game as both teams will have 15+ changes to that day. Personally I think that this one is a coin toss even if Tigers have won the last 5 league clashes, so I’m going to a tight home win.
Tigers by 3
London Irish v Newcastle Flacons
A battle of the basement dwellers and with London Welsh so far behind this game is only about pride. Falcons have looked much better this season than last but so far their only away win have been against London Welsh. London Irish have announced a host of start signings for next season and have a new coach coming in so the players will be playing to try and keep their places and contracts. So with Falcons travelling issues I’m going for Irish to do the double over Newcastle with a small home win.
Irish by 5
Saracens v Harlequins
There should be a bit of a buzz around Quins at the moment with rumours of Welsh internationals arriving next season. But as far as this season goes they are stuck in a bit of no mans land. Top 6 looks out of reach and so 7th with a European playoff is the best they can hope for. Saracens on the other hand are shooting for a home semi-final in the playoffs. I don’t see this being the 39 point demolition that happened earlier in the season but it should be a comfortable home win.
Saracens by 10
Sale Sharks v Gloucester
Sharks are hanging on to the leading pack with their fingernails. They do still have a chance of making the top 6 and if they are going to do this then they need to take advantage of a relatively easy run in. Gloucester have been inconsistent which shouldn’t be a surprise as this was a rebuilding season. Reintegrating their internationals is going to be all important for the end of their season. As the Challenge cup is their remaining chance of silverware they could rest players for that competition. Either way Sharks have more to play for and are at home so should win this one.
Sharks by 7
London Welsh v Bath
Put simply this is going to be a big Bath win. They know that they need 5 points in the playoff chase and will be looking at boosting their points difference. This season is so close and having missed out on the playoffs on number of wins last season, Bath will know how import these little details can be.
Bath by 50