The Premiership continues this weekend, and after two cracking rounds of fixtures with tries aplenty, can it continue? Jamie Hosie shares his Superbru predictions.
The first game on Friday night sees 2 unbeaten sides face off at the Rec. The Saints are the visitors this week, and I think it will be them that leave with their unbeaten record broken. Their forwards have been seriously impressive thus far, but they seem to be no closer to solving their selection dilemma at 10. Ryan Lamb can be a mercurial talent, but his goal kicking is still shaky. Sadly for Saints fans Stephen Myler was also wayward from the tee when he came on last week. Conversely, Olly Barkley is the joint top scorer after 2 rounds and didn’t miss a kick last week. I expect Northampton to dominate up front again, but away from home and without a consistent goal kicker I think they’ll just miss out here, although not by much.
Worcester welcome Gloucester to Sixways on Saturday having put in a plucky performance at Welford Road the week before, almost snatching a bonus point. Gloucester, for their part, enjoyed a late comeback against London Irish to register their first win of the season. I expect them to win here, although not too comfortably and Worcester may well pick up a bonus point, especially if the Cherry and Whites give away too many penalties and Andy Goode is as accurate as he has been. Like last week, the Gloucester pack should at least gain parity against the Warriors, which will give their impressive young backline the platform they need. With Freddie Burns kicking the goals they should have too much for Worcester.
At some point this season, Sale will come good and start putting some wins together. However, I don’t expect it to be this weekend when they travel to the Stoop. Harlequins are on a high after their incredible comeback in the first round and their destruction of London Welsh the week after, and should record a comfortable victory. The Sharks will be encouraged by Cipriani’s solid if unspectacular start to his career in the North West, and there is more to come from Richie Gray. Quins will be too strong at home though, with Chris Robshaw and Nick Evans leading the way to another win.
Two teams yet to win a match will do battle at Adam’s Park on Sunday, Wasps hosting London Irish. However, while the Exiles are yet to even register a point, Wasps have taken 3 bonus points from 2 very tough fixtures so far. In their first home game of the season, I can see them winning fairly comfortably against a London Irish team that is still yet to gel after a tumultuous off season. With some quietly impressive recruiting over the summer starting to pay dividends, the likes of Tom Palmer and James Haskell should see Wasps over the line here.
The game of the weekend in round 3 comes from Wembley, where Saracens take on the Tigers. Another clash of unbeaten teams, it is also the toughest of the weekend’s games to call. The Tigers have started impressively in attack, 2 try-scoring bonus points in the bag already, but their defence has been uncharacteristically leaky and they have switched off for large periods of their opening 2 games. They can’t afford to do that against a side as good as Sarries, and so I think it will be the men from Watford who shade this one. It should make for a cracking game though, and with the likes of Ashton, Goode, Goneva, and Tuilagi on the pitch there is also the potential for lots of tries.
Not long ago, London Welsh vs Exeter Chiefs would have been a mid-table Championship clash. This weekend though, it is a Premiership game of paramount importance for both teams. Welsh will be looking to get their maiden victory in the top flight against the second least experienced team in the league. From the Chiefs point of view, they will have taken plenty of positives from their narrow loss at Franklin’s Gardens last week, and will look to carry that momentum into the game here. Exeter have been the Premiership success story of the past few seasons, and as much as I want to see London Welsh do well and get off the mark, I think their opponents will be too strong. The Exiles may, however, grab their first point of the season in the form of a losing bonus point.
Bath vs Northampton Saints: Bath by 5
Worcester Warriors vs Gloucester: Gloucester by 6
Harlequins vs Sale Sharks: Harlequins by 15
London Wasps vs London Irish: Wasps by 12
Saracens vs Leicester Tigers: Saracens by 3
London Welsh vs Exeter Chiefs: Exeter by 5
What do you think? Do you agree?