The Aviva Premiership returns this weekend, and with the Autumn Internationals still in full flow will the teams less affected by call-ups spring a surprise on some of the bigger names? Here are my Superbru predictions for round 9.
Friday night sees Quins travel to the Rec to take on Bath, in a repeat of last week’s LV Cup encounter. The Londoners won then, and I expect them to win here too, although Bath won’t roll over easily and could snatch a bonus point. Look out for Luke Wallace on the open-side flank for Quins, a young man with a bright future hoping to make an impression in the absence of captain Robshaw. Elsewhere on Friday Worcester welcome Sarries in a game I expect the nomadic Watford outfit to win fairly comfortably.
Basement club Sale make probably the last trip they’d want to right now in the early kick off on Saturday, when they take on Gloucester at Kingsholm. Despite having been demoted to backs coach ex-Gloucester head honcho Bryan Redpath can expect an acrimonious welcome from the supporters of the club he left under a cloud of secrecy and dodgy timing last season. On the pitch, Gloucester’s young guns should have too much for Sale, and the battle of two mercurial outside halves in Burns and Cipriani could make for great viewing. Elsewhere London Welsh head to Franklin’s Gardens where the Saints will be desperate for a league win and will probably get one, although the Exiles will no doubt be typically plucky.
On Sunday Wasps host a Leicester side depleted as always at this time of year by international call-ups. Despite the traditional strength in depth of the Tigers, Wasps have shown some steel this season and allied with the pace they have out wide I think they might shock the men from Leicester. The final game of the weekend sees the Chiefs travel to Reading to take on London Irish, where I expect the hosts to win despite the absence of their star back Jonathan Joseph.
Bath v Harlequins: Harlequins by 4
Worcester Warriors v Saracens: Saracens by 10
Northampton Saints v London Welsh: Saints by 11
Gloucester Rugby v Sale Sharks: Gloucester by 13
London Wasps v Leicester Tigers: Wasps by 2
London Irish v Exeter Chiefs: Irish by 5
How do you see the weekend unfolding?