Here we are then, the beginning of the season. Amidst all the excitement I will attempt to keep a clear head and predict the opening round of results.
First up we’ve got the opening game of the London double header at Twickenham: Wasps against defending champions Harlequins. I’m predicting Wasps will have a better season than last time around, with signings like Ashley Johnson and Stephen Jones adding experience to their young talent like Christian Wade and Elliot Daly. Having said this, I think they’ll get off to a losing start here, with Quins maintaining their momentum off the back of last season to edge this one.
Exeter’s first home game of the season sees them take on Sale, in one of the tougher games to call this weekend. If the likes of Cipriani, Gray, and Shepherd can gel quickly then Sale could put together a tilt towards the playoffs as time goes on. However, Sandy Park is never an easy place to get a result, and I think it will be too big an ask for Sale this early on. Should be a close one though.
Gloucester vs Northampton is another hard one to call. If the Gloucester pack can front up and provide their backs with some ball, they have the potential to score plenty of tries. As they always say though, the forwards win the game, and the backs decide by how many – so if the big Northampton pack can slow down Gloucester’s style of play, they have a great chance of coming away with a result. Having said that, I think home advantage will see Gloucester sneak through.
Worcester’s only ever win on the opening day of the season was last year against Sale, but they finished last season with 4 defeats in a row. They triumphed in this fixture against Bath last year, their only win the last 10 meetings between the 2 sides. Sadly I can see that pattern continuing, and Bath should record a comfortable victory at Sixways.
The second half of the London double header and final game on Saturday sees Sarries take on London Irish. Saracens come into this as heavy favourites, with far more experience of the Twickenham atmosphere, and having won their last 3 games against the Exiles. There has been a lot of turnover during the off season at Irish, and they could take a while to gel. All these factors point to a fairly comfortable victory for Sarries.
The Sunday match sees a baptism of fire for Premiership new boys against the most successful team in the league, the Tigers, especially without their marquee signing Gavin Henson. After the promotion saga at the end of last season, London Welsh face a tough ask to keep themselves in the top flight this season having not had as long as all the other teams to consolidate a squad. It doesn’t get more difficult than playing the Tigers, and I think the men from Leicester will triumph.
Here are my SuperBru predictions for Round 1:
London Wasps vs Harlequins: Harlequins by 5
Exeter Chiefs vs Sale Sharks: Exeter Chiefs by 3
Gloucester Rugby vs Northampton Saints: Gloucester by 5
Worcester Warriors vs Bath: Bath by 10
Saracens vs London Irish: Saracens by 8
London Welsh vs Leicester Tigers: Leicester Tigers by 10
What do you reckon? How do you see the opening weekend unfolding?