Round 6 of the Aviva Premiership sees some teams rotate their starting lineups before the European competitions start next weekend. What effect will this have on domestic affairs? Here are my SuperBru predictions.
Sale’s new era has started in spectacularly poor fashion, with 5 losses from 5 games. They took a gamble in signing big name players and so far it has backfired, with little or no cohesion on the pitch. Still, at some point you would expect it to click, and when it does they will have a lot to offer. That said, playing the Tigers on a dark Friday night isn’t an easy task even if you’re a world-beating side, so I don’t think it’ll be this weekend that they get their first win. Leicester have changed their half-backs with the injured Ben Youngs returning to partner George Ford in his first start of the season. That could be an explosive partnership and a very exciting one for the future. The Tigers will have too much at the Salford and will win by a couple of scores.
The first West Country derby of the season comes from Kingsholm this Saturday, with Bath the visitors. This match is always fiercely contested, and expect plenty of niggle as they’re not only neighbours geographically but also in the table. In the first game of the post-Barkley era, it will be interesting to see how Bath go without their midfield talisman, and Gloucester will be hoping young Freddie Burns can continue his fine form. I think Bath may suffer from a post-Barkley-leaving party style hangover, and Gloucester will record an easy win at home.
Chiefs vs Harlequins sees two teams both looking to bounce back from a defeat last weekend. Exeter didn’t looked a shadow of the team they have become at Welford Road last weekend, while against Sarries, Quins found themselves up against a team that successfully managed to slow them down. If Exeter can do likewise they might stand a chance, but I think Quins will be too strong for them. It should be a close one though and I expect Exeter to grab a bonus point at least.
Northampton make the trip to London Irish as exactly the team the Exiles don’t want to face. Top of the table with 5 wins from 5, they’re sitting pretty while Irish are wallowing in 11th with only one win and the worst defensive record in the league. Whilst there were some positives against Bath two weeks ago, their progress stalled against Worcester when they were soundly beaten. I don’t expect them to have any success here either; Saints should record an easy victory.
London Welsh keep surprising people, a late comeback against Gloucester the latest in a string of strong performances. They welcome Sarries this weekend, and while they won’t role over as many would have expected them to before the season began, I don’t think they’ll win either. Sarries are starting to find some form, with Farrell looking solid and Hodgson always capable of pulling the strings. They’ll win, but won’t run away with it.
Wasps vs Worcester this season has a distinctly different feel to it than it did last season. Both teams look likely to be fighting for mid-table spots rather than being caught up in a relegation battle, and both are scoring tries for fun, with 12 apiece so far. In fact, these two teams are very similarly matched, one point separating them in the table and only a difference of 3 in the points for column. All this makes for a cracking game and it will probably be close too. While Worcester impressed at home to London Irish last weekend, I don’t think they quite have what it takes to beat Wasps away yet. The home team should win by virtue of being in front of their fans.
Sale Sharks vs Leicester Tigers: Tigers by 10
Gloucester vs Bath: Gloucester by 12
Exeter Chiefs vs Harlequins: Harlequins by 4
London Irish vs Northampton Saints: Saints by 15
London Welsh vs Saracens: Saracens by 8
London Wasps vs Worcester Warriors: Wasps by 7
How do you see this weekend unfolding?