Last weekend saw some thrilling games with many of them going down to the last play. With squads desecrated by international call-ups, what does this weekend hold? Here are my Superbru predictions.
Friday night sees Sale take on London Irish in the battle of the bottom two. Sale may not have won yet but they have certainly come close, and to be so far adrift is slightly misleading. London Irish came within a whisker of beating the champions last weekend, only to be denied by a last minute try that they were unlucky to concede. I have cautiously predicted Sale to get their first win of the season here – there’s no doubt they have the players, and with Steve Diamond now at the helm they will hopefully have the belief instilled in them that has maybe been lacking thus far.
The Midlands derby is undoubtedly the clash of the weekend, and a difficult one to call. Whilst it is always tempting to plump for home advantage, the Tigers have lost an awful lot of players to international call-ups, while the Saints squad has been less affected (although they do have injuries to several key players). Nevertheless, Leicester’s line-up is still impressive and they should have enough to win what will be a tight encounter with their neighbors. Also on Saturday, Exeter take on Worcester in an intriguing clash of two teams in similar positions in the table. Worcester have been vastly more impressive than last season, but can still be a bit hit-and-miss at times, while Sandy Park is as difficult a place as any in the Premiership to get a win. For that reason I think the Chiefs should record a comfortable enough victory.
Quins used their get-out-of-jail free card last weekend with their lucky last minute try against London Irish, and have been slightly struggling for form over the past few weeks. However, the sign of a great side is when you can win the close games while not necessarily playing to the best of your ability, which is largely what they have been doing. Gloucester, for their part, showed immeasurable character I’m not even sure they knew they had to beat the Tigers in an epic encounter at Kingsholm last weekend. The confidence that should give them means they will challenge Quins at the Stoop, but I expect the Londoners to be too good in front of home support and record a win. Elsewhere Saracens take on Wasps at Vicarage Road in a game that will gauge how far Wasps have come from the immensely disappointing team of last season. Sarries, however, are the form team of the league and no squad seems to be brimming with as much confidence as theirs. Wasps will always pose a threat with the likes of Wade and Varndell out wide, but Sarries are simply too good at the moment.
The final game of the weekend sees London Welsh take on Bath. The West Country outfit have an efficient nature about them, not setting the world alight but getting the wins when they need to. No team will underestimate a trip to the Kassam Stadium anymore, and rightly so as the Exiles have proved that they thoroughly deserve their status as a Premiership club. I expect Bath to have too much experience for the newcomers though, and should record a narrow victory with a high possibility of a Welsh bonus point.
Sale Sharks vs London Irish: Sale by 5
Leicester Tigers vs Northampton Saints: Tigers by 4
Exeter Chiefs vs Worcester Warriors: Exeter by 12
Harlequins vs Gloucester: Quins by 10
Saracens vs London Wasps: Saracens by 15
London Welsh vs Bath: Bath by 6
Do you agree?