The new season of the Gallagher Premiership is slipping under the radar somewhat, but such is the congested Rugby calendar that they have to get going with it before the Rugby World Cup ends.
Here are my predictions for Round 1 this weekend.
Bristol v Bath
This was the same opening fixture as last season, with Bristol springing an upset on their return to the top flight. I’m going for the same again here, given some notable absences for Bath. Bristol by 4
Exeter v Harlequins
Quins’s away record is fairly abysmal, as is their record against Exeter with 1 victory in the last 10. I would expect a home victory here. Exeter by 9
Sale v Gloucester
Gloucester enjoyed a stellar season last year, qualifying for the top four, but they still managed to lose home and away to Sale. On that basis I’m going for another home win. Sale by 2
Saracens v Northampton
There are plenty of absences for Saracens, given their almost implausible roster of international stars and they could be vulnerable in the early part of the season. With no form to go on, picking Sarries at home still feels sensible. Saracens by 7
Worcester v Leicester
It will be interesting to see how the Tigers fare this year, and this isn’t an easy start without their best player from last season, who will be warming the bench for England. The Warriors won this home and away last season, and they’ll be less affected by international call-ups than the Tigers. Worcester by 4
Wasps v London Irish
I have been wincing at all the money that London Irish seem to be spending in the hopes of staying up this season, but it could take a while for them to get going. Wasps by 16
Don’t forget to join the Superbru Predictor league this season and see how you fare against me: join here