Where does time go? It’s March and it’s Round 17 in the Aviva Premiership already, and as the knockout stages begin to loom, there are some outstanding matches in prospect this week.
Newcastle are first up tonight, and should be buoyed by their win at Leeds last weekend which ought to ensure their survival in the top flight yet again. Back on home ground and with a spring in their step, I’m backing them to beat Quins which would be something of an upset – 75% of Gurus are predicting a Quins win, but I fancy the home side.
I’m also predicting a win for another early-season relegation candidate over the early-season title favourites. Northampton are on a dreadful run, and away at Exeter is not the sort of fixture you want when you are low on confidence, so I’ve gone with the home side to turn them over.
Then we have a west country clash with both teams on form. There’s not much to choose between the sides, but Gloucester’s home record cannot be ignored, and they’ll be excited about doing the double over their local rivals.
Those fixtures would be enough for a good weekend, but then we have a top of the table meeting between Leicester and Sarries – listen to the Podcast for a good preview – and again I can’t ignore home advantage.
In the other two games, I think Irish will benefit from Leeds’ plight at the bottom of the table, and Wasps should overcome Sale at home.
Here are my Aviva Premiership Rugby predictions for this weekend:
Newcastle Falcons v Harlequins: Newcastle Falcons by 5
Exeter Chiefs v Northampton Saints: Exeter Chiefs by 6
Gloucester Rugby v Bath: Gloucester Rugby by 6
Leicester Tigers v Saracens: Leicester Tigers by 8
Leeds Carnegie v London Irish: London Irish by 17
London Wasps v Sale Sharks: London Wasps by 7