Back to back rounds of Aviva Premiership matches feels like a real treat at this time of year, although next week it’s the European semi-finals without any English representation. Perhaps the new league sponsors Gallagher will share some wisdom from US Sports, where they appear to focus on what is best for fans and for the tournament as an exciting product to watch and follow, rather than kowtowing quite as much to boardroom power, the politics of sports administration, and to nostalgic ideals.
Anyway, as I continue to wait for a baby-related phone call from my wife, here are my predictions for this weekend’s matches.
Newcastle v Sale
This game has been settled by 1 or 2 points on the last 3 occasions, and by 8 points or fewer over the last 11 meetings. It hasn’t always been 5th v 6th, with both sides in the running for a top four finish, but it’s likely to be a close match once again. Defeat last week to Worcester was a surprise, but the Falcons have not lost at home since November, and I think they’ll edge this one. Newcastle by 4
Gloucester v Harlequins
A miserable outing for both teams last weekend, and it will be interesting to see whether Quins totally implode, or if they find some pride in their performances over the rest of the season. Either way, it would be quite a turnaround to lose by 30 at home to London Irish and then go to Kingsholm and win. The home side should sneak back into the top 6, with rivals Newcastle and Sale playing each other. Gloucester by 8
Wasps v Worcester
It’s two defeats in a row now for Wasps, but they remain in the top four and really ought to beat Worcester at home if they still harbour title aspirations. Wasps by 16
Leicester v Northampton
This Midlands derby doesn’t have quite the same weight of expectation this season, with Northampton floundering in 10th without an away win since September. Another 50-point drubbing by Saracens won’t have helped morale, and Leicester will win as they continue to build momentum to the end of the season. Leicester by 16
Saracens v Bath
Bath won the reverse fixture back in September, but it’s hard to see them doing the double on the back of three league defeats and only one away win in 2018. With their focus solely on the league, Sarries will build up a head of steam through to the final, and Bath won’t stop them here. Saracens by 18
London Irish v Exeter
I have predicted all home wins so far, but I don’t think London Irish can make it a full house. The Exiles may have some renewed hope, and they haven’t lost a match by more than 8 points since December, but I think they got lucky with Quins’ abysmal showing last weekend, and the Chiefs won’t be anywhere near as generous at this stage of the season. Exeter by 18
I got greedy last weekend on Leovegas, correctly picking the Leicester win but then ‘topping up the odds’ by picking Quins and Exeter to win at home. Quins’ no-show put paid to that, and I was so cross that somebody had to get fired. A winning double last weekend yielded an easy £25 with
I’m running out of rounds to win the betting league, so I need to increase the odds. I’m putting my money on all 6 of my predictions including Newcastle to win by 1-12 points, with odds of 4.43.
Follow Hutch on Twitter: @Hutch_James
Have a good weekend!