Last round I talked about how close the Gallagher Premiership table is very close. Now it all feels a bit immaterial as Saracens are going to be relegated at the end of the season no matter what the table says. The Premiership and other teams will want everyone to concentrate on the playoffs and European qualification. However it’s going to take a few weeks before everyones focus moves that way.
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Northampton Saints v London Irish – Northampton Saints by 7
Saints had a bit of a dip when they lost a couple of games to Leinster in Europe and followed that up with a loss to Sale. However They have recovered from that now and still have a perfect record at home in the Premiership.
Irish might have started bright at the beginning of the season but have struggled of late and have seen themselves slip towards the bottom of the table. The pressure will be off with relegation removed but I think they’ll find Saints too difficult.
Bath Rugby v Leicester Tigers – Bath Rugby by 10
Bath are part of the mid-table logjam, with four teams separated by 1 point. This should be a good weekend for them to try and pull away. Tigers have been poor this season and we’ll have to wait and see how they react to the removal of relegation. Will they go demob happy like end of term or will it remove pressure and allow them to express themselves?
Either way this should be a rare bonus point win for Bath.
Bristol v Gloucester Rugby – Bristol by 3
This should be a cracker, not only is it fifth hosting third but it’s also a west country derby. This is one where I would go with the home side. Bristol might be having a winter slump but at home they have proved to be formidable.
Gloucester have shown some of the form that led me to think of them as the best of the rest last season. The more I think about it the more I’m backing Gloucester but I’ve found when I over think it I get it wrong so I’m sticking with my instinct.
Exeter Chiefs v Sale Sharks – Exeter Chiefs by 15
An easy call of home TBP win here. Ever since Saracens got their points deducted everyone has had Exeter as the odds on favourites to win the whole thing. To get there they’ll want a home semi-final and that means topping the table. To get there they need to win these games confortably really.
Sale’s pack is improving but they still aren’t great travellers as we see with their only 1 away win of the season. Also if you believe in patterns they don’t have a hope. So far this season they are LWLWLWLW, yup it’s an L next.
Worcester Warriors v Wasps – Worcester Warriors by 5
Worcester are another of those sides in that mid-table logjam. With relegation off the table they are in a good position to build towards a comfortable mid-table finish. This is something that they have been building towards over a the last few years and even before this have been looking good.
Wasps on the flip side are all over the place. A talented side that just can’t get the mix right. Saracens being relegated gives Dai Young some breathing space to sort things out. The big question at Wasps is if he’ll be allowed to or replaced.
Harlequins v Saracens – Harlequins by 3
All eyes will be on this London derby. I’ve gone with the home win because of the players that Saracens will be missing due to England call-ups. Quins used to be heavily impacted during the 6 Nations but find that they keep more of their players now-a-days.
Obviously there is also the media circus that will be going on around Saracens and also the uncertainty for a lot of their players. The initial reaction by the players on the pitch has been good. A win over Racing 92 putting them into the Heineken European Cup quarter finals. So until we see otherwise I’m not going to pick against them due to off-field issues.
Record So Far
31 from 48 or 65% correct.
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