The Aviva Premiership run in is underway. Every point takes on larger and larger significance over these games as the playoffs come into view. Here are my Round 18 predictions.
First here is a link to my roundup of all the action from last weekend.
How did your round 17 predictions go?
4 from 6, which wasn’t bad considering two relegation sides managed upset wins.
Saracens v Exeter Chiefs
The weekend kicks off with a cracker as the top two in the table take each other on. Saracens aura of invincibility has slipped over the last couple of weeks. They will be getting back their international players but we will have to see how quickly or many return to action straight away. Both these sides should make the playoffs and those are the games that matter rather than this one. Still both sides will be going for it and I’m backing a narrow home win against public opinion.
Saracens by 3
Gloucester Rugby v Bath
Gloucester’s inconsistency continues to dent their European Champions Cup ambitions. Losses away to relegation fighting teams in the last two weekends have been very trying for their supporters. At least they are still in with a chance though as Bath’s season is finishing with a damp squib. They are clear of relegation, even if Warriors are catching up, but have no realistic chance of making the top 6. I fully expect Gloucester to bounce back at home and do the double over Bath.
Gloucester Rugby by 7
Worcester Warriors v London Irish
This is one of those games that might be season defining. Warriors are in good form having won four of their last five games. However they might feel they can relax as they are 14 points ahead of Irish and so relegation. Personally I think that they will see this as the final win they need to stay up. Irish know that they need to back up last weekends win to apply some pressure on Falcons who they meet in a couple of rounds time. So expect Irish to come out hammer and tongs for the win but I think it won’t be enough to down Warriors at home.
Worcester Warriors by 5
Sale Sharks v Leicester Tigers
Sharks have had a bit of a rough time of it since Cipriani announced he was leaving at the end of the season. However if you look at the detail it’s not been that different than the rest of the season. At home Sharks are undefeated whilst away wins have been few and far between. Interestingly one of those wins did come against Tigers so this is an opportunity to do the double. Tigers have come through three games against the top three with two wins and a loss. They will be looking for revenge against Sale and are in good form but it’s probably the hardest place to go so I’m backing a narrow home win.
Sale Sharks by 3
Newcastle Falcons v Wasps
Falcons would have thought that they were relatively safe but Irish’s win last weekend will have put paid to that. The Goode effect has now gone as he returns to retirement. Many of us thought his contract would be extended but four losses show that perhaps the initial injection of positivity had run its course. Wasps Are the form side of the Premiership with only one loss in the last nine games. So this is exactly the game Falcons didn’t want and I can’t see them coming away with any points.
Wasps by 7
Northampton Saints v Harlequins
Saints are another of the form sides even if they did lose at Exeter last weekend. Five wins in their last seven games has seen them climb to the edge of the playoff places. Quins on the other hand have been in free fall with only two wins in the same time. They are one of the most effected teams by international call ups and only Gloucester’s two losses to relegation sides kept Quins in the top 6. Those international players will be knackered and need reintegrating so I think a trip to Saints will be a trip too far.
Northampton Saints by 5
Here are my one line predictions on YouTube if you prefer video to all these written words.