Aviva Premiership Predictions: Round 3

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Worcester Warriors v Harlequins

Both Worcester and Quins could really do with a win here. The home team suffered a crushing blow to their survival chances last weekend in losing to London Irish at home, and they desperately need to bounce back to avoid making it three losses from three. Josh Matavesi has looked dangerous in fits and spurts so far, as has Mieres inside him – if they can combine they have the flair to cause Quins problems. Mieres needs to sort his kicking out, however, otherwise Worcester’s already uphill struggle will become insurmountable. Quins have been hit with unwelcome injury issues, and already their cover in some areas is looking thin. Nick Easter moves into the second row to fill the hole left by Nick Kennedy, with Tom Guest – an excellent player in his own right – filling in at no.8. Jordan Turner-Hall’s injury means Tom Casson has the opportunity to stamp his authority on the inside centre shirt – expect a big performance from him.

Worcester will never make it easy at Sixways, where their excellent crowd make it a hostile place to play. That said, Quins have too much firepower and should triumph. Quins by 8.

Sale Sharks v London Wasps

The big question surrounding this fixture is: which Sale team will turn up? If it is the one that turned over Gloucester at Kingsholm, they could well surprise the Wasps, but if it is the one that lost at home to Newcastle, the men from Wycombe should have no problems. Rob Miller comes onto the wing to form a back three partnership with Tom Arscott and Tom Brady that brims with pace and power, but the continued absence of Jonny Leota inside them leaves a lack of penetration in the midfield. Wasps’ flyer Christian Wade will need to be locked down when he gets the ball, but his defensive errors at Exeter last weekend will not have escaped the attention of Steve Diamond – expect plenty of ball to be run his way. Intriguingly, Danny Cipriani is back on the Sale bench – it would be quite a story if he came on to seal a win against his old club. With the way Nick Macleod kicked last weekend, it is far from out of the question.

This is a very difficult one to call. Without Leota in their midfield Sale look to lack something in their backs, and with the forward battle likely to be quite even, Goode and co. should sneak a narrow victory. Wasps by 3.

Leicester Tigers v Newcastle Falcons

The Tigers have rotated heavily for the visit of the Falcons following their loss to Bath last weekend. American international Blaine Scully gets his first start at fullback, while Lions Manu Tuilagi and Ben Youngs, as well as captain Toby Flood, all make their first appearances of the season. There is no sign of Anthony Allen or Ryan Lamb, the former presumably rested, the latter perhaps dropped. Up front Neal Briggs gets his first start at hooker, as does Jamie Gibson at openside. He has a huge job to fill Salvi’s boots, and Newcastle will look to get into him at the breakdown. The Tigers will need to be more disciplined this week, having been awarded two yellow cards against Bath which ultimately lost them the game. The Falcons hand Rory Clegg his first start at fly-half – a baptism of fire if ever there was one. Phil Godman was steady last week to kick them to victory over Sale, and if Newcastle are to have any chance of points here you sense Clegg will also have to be dead-eye. Former Tiger Kieran Brookes will be fired up to get one over his old club – he starts at tighthead.

Even with a heavily rotated squad the Tigers will be too strong for Newcastle. Some rustiness early on from returning players might see it tight at half time, but in the second half they will pull away. Tigers by 17.

London Irish v Exeter Chiefs

Irish showed superb resilience to win at Worcester, and they will need plenty of the same as they welcome a Chiefs side that dispatched Wasps from Sandy Park with ease. The home side’s try-scoring hopes appear to rest squarely with Marland Yarde, who already has three to his name this season – there is firepower on the bench as well, however, with Sailosi Tagicakibau ready to unleash his pace and power. Tom James stole the show for the Chiefs last weekend with a brilliant brace brimming with agression – intriguingly he lines up opposite Yarde, which is surely one of the match-ups of the season so far.

This is a tough one to call as well – Irish have started a lot more brightly than many had predicted, while the Chiefs have blown hot and cold. A close one no doubt, but the visitors to sneak it. Chiefs by 3.

Gloucester v Northampton Saints

Oh how Gloucester need a win. Bottom of the table is not where many saw them after two rounds. They backs possess pace and flair in abundance, their back-row has tenacity and power in spades, but their front five simply do not match up to the best. Which is a shame, because their visitors this week undoubtedly possess one of the best. There is no Corbisiero, presumably being rested, but on paper Northampton’s looks significantly more powerful than its Cherry and White equivalent. Ben Morgan is, intriguingly, left on the bench again, doing his chances of an England spot this Autumn no help – it does mean he will be raring to go when he does finally come on, however. For the Saints Kahn Fotuali’i showed glimpses of his brilliance in the rain at Quins – given a hard pitch and some nice weather he could be devastating, and Jimmy Cowan will need all his experience to keep him shackled.

Gloucester, even with 14 men, were significantly better last weekend at Sarries and back at Kingsholm they will step it up another notch. The Saints have impressed so far – but with a rotated squad, and facing a side so desperate for a win, they could come unstuck for the first time this season. Gloucester by 3.

Saracens v Bath

Sunday’s game could have been an intriguing one, but it seems Bath have rotated their way to a likely loss. The team is virtually unrecognisable to the one that took apart the Tigers last weekend, while much attention will be trained on Gavin Henson, who faces his old club. It was an ill-fated stint at Sarries, and they have poked fun at him by claiming they will refund all Bath supporters’ tickets if he scores. So if the game is out of sight after 10 minutes and Bath have a kickable penalty, will they give it to Henson? For the home team Alex Goode returns at fullback (Chris Wyles shifting to 13 to cover the injured Tomkins), and he needs to hit the ground running, with Mike Brown and Ben Foden both impressing in the first couple of weeks, if he is to keep challenging for an England place.

Bath fans would no doubt prefer the win but as that is unlikely to happen, they will probably settle for their money back – the most they are likely to get out of this game, sadly. Saracens by 15.

By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

11 thoughts on “Aviva Premiership Predictions: Round 3

  1. Not sure if it is meant to, but in the Leicesters bit is reads as though Flood is a Lion?

    On predictions, the only one I disagree results-wise would be Saints. I’d be very surprised if they lost this weekend. I also think that Exeter will win by more at Irish. Other than that I agree with all of them.

    1. I meant to write England players, that’s why!

      I’ve just got a feeling Glos will sneak it. Saints don’t have Corbs or Lawes starting, and although it’s still a monstrous pack I don’t think they’ll dominate as much as everyone expects them to. If the weather’s terrible, mind you, I’d expect a Saints win. Should be a close one either way.

      1. Ah right makes more sense!

        The result there could be very weather dependent; will be an interesting watch and I certainly think it will be tight. Saints have looked so impressive so far though, I just see them edging it.

  2. I’m going for Sale over Wasps, putting their loss to Falcons down to a bit of complacency. They looked awesome for the first 30 and I think they thought they’d won it by then, especially coming off the back of the Glouc game. Don’t think it will happen again. Sale by a score

    1. Nah, Macleod/Cipriani v Goode on a cold Friday night in Sale? Goode every time. Missed kicks will punish Sale as they did last week, so Wasps by a score.

  3. I think I’d agree with most of this apart from the Glaws v Saints result. The cherrywhites played really well with 14 men, but the loss of Wood, and the energy sapping nature of defending with 14 isn’t going to be easy to overcome. Also a loss is a loss, no matter how plucky, and they’ll be feeling the pressure.
    Also talking about lovely sunshine turning the game for Gloucester’s backs is a mite fanciful. Northampton ripped Exeter to shreds in the first game in similar conditions, are they going to sit back in similar conditions? (caveat I am Saint’s fan!)

  4. I have to say that there is no way Gloucester will beat Saints! Belief is a massive game changer and Saints are not without huge talent even if the squad is rotated! Watch Elliot start his season as he finished last season…

  5. No chance of Gloucester beating Saints, based on current form anyway. The squad might have been rotated & it’s easy to say that they will be weaker without Corbisiero, but Alex Waller is a better prop than people think, always stood in well for Tonga’uiha last season. I’d also go as far to say that the scrum is stronger without Lawes, or equally as good at least with Manoa & Sam Dickinson coming in.

    Also Jamie Elliot and George North on the wings in good condition will cause problems for any team.
    Saints to win by 10….

  6. It’s been a great start to the new premiership with lots of stand out performances by the England boys already. If I were to pick a starting XV from the current EPS squad based on current form so far this campaign, returning stalwarts and perhaps a touch of personal bias it would be:

    1. A. Corbisero
    2. D. Hartley
    3. D. Cole
    4. J. Launchbury
    5. G. Parling
    6. T. Wood
    7. C. Robshaw
    8. B. Morgan

    9. B. Youngs
    10. O. Farrell
    11. M. Yarde
    12. B. Twelvetrees
    13. M. Tuilagi
    14. C. Ashton
    15. B. Foden

    16. T. Youngs
    17. M. Vunipola
    18. D. Wilson
    19. D. Attwood
    20. B. Vunipola
    21. D. Care
    22. F. Burns
    23. K. Eastmond

    Some perhaps surprising thoughts in putting Hartley ahead of Youngs but I believe that the added weight is a big factor to start the game with. Hibbard showed that in the last test for the Lions and cast your mind back to when the English conquered the All Blacks… they started with the front row as shown above. As England did when we smashed the Irish in the scrum a couple of Six Nations back. Youngs also makes a very good impact sub with thirty minutes or so left on the clock so I believe it to be the best balance.

    I also believe Ashton deserves the opportunity to link up with Foden again and, coupled with a distributing 12 in Twelvetrees, he will have far more opportunity to run his trademark lines. Any slip up though and Wade is an automatic shoe in.

    Yarde may well be our answer for the problematic 11 shirt and his try scoring form in an averge London Irish team is really impressive. With Croft now out, the best back row combination is Wood, Robshaw and Morgan (again, the same as that started the All Blacks game) with the impressive B. Vunipola on the bench to add ballast and power in the latter stages. Also happy with the inclusion of Kvesic if Robshaw or Wood picked up a knock.

    The bath pair of Eastmond and Attwood deserve their bench spots in my opinion adding speed and dynamism in the shape of Eastmond who can fill a variety of back places if required and the power and size of Attwood ahead of a stuttering Lawes.

    1. Must admit that is almost the exact 23 I would go with. Potentially look at Kvesic over Robshaw but I would be happy with either. Also think the Burns/Eastmond has limited cover for the backs. They are both really 10/12 cover. I know Eastmond can technically cover wing/full back but I’m not sure I’d want to see him there. Burns or Farrell can shift to 12 if necessary so I’d probably have Brown over Eastmond for that alone. He can cover wing and full back better that Eastmond. And Burns/ Farrell can cover 10/12.

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