Even though the league started late, we’re already up to Round 5 of the Gallagher Premiership season, and we’re back again after a two week break for the Heineken Champions Cup. Hopefully we can really get stuck into it now.
Oh no, hang on, there’s just one round of domestic league action before we return to back-to-back weekends of European Rugby once again. I really can’t stand the stop-start nature of all of our competitions in the northern hemisphere…
Anyway, we roll on under the cloud of Wraygate with simmering tension between Saracens and the rest of the league over their blatant flouting of the spirit of the salary cap – whether or not they found a loophole in the laws – and their continued refusal to show any remorse.
The whole league is now tainted as far as I am concerned, and I’m struggling to find excitement in it until something changes. I should have been rejoicing at the news that Semi Radradra will be gracing Premiership Rugby pitches, but instead my first thought is how that fits into Bristol’s wage bill, who has to leave to free up the funds and how can that possibly be a good investment in what is essentially a failing sport?
Here are my predictions for Round 5 of the Gallagher Premiership:
Bath v Saracens
These two clubs were warned about salary cap cheating a few years ago (although I don’t think it was ever confirmed that it was Bath), but that didn’t seem to make any difference whatsoever. They go head-to-head at the Rec on Friday night, and this is a fixture that the home side usually wins – Sarries haven’t won in Bath since 2016. Nevertheless, with such a huge points deficit to make up in the league, and whilst most of their internationals are available, Sarries will be going all out to win this. Saracens by 9
Exeter v Wasps
A couple of strong performances in Europe will help the Chiefs put their indifferent league form behind them, and I expect them to win at Sandy Park. Wasps have just one league win to their name so far, and down at Exeter is not the place to improve their away record. Exeter by 13
Northampton v Leicester
The Midlands derby this time features second place against 12th, with the Tigers struggling in the league so far. Add to the fact that the Saints have won three of the last four matches against Leicester, and I can’t see past a home win here. Northampton by 8
Worcester v Sale
The leading sports betting markets have Sale has slight favourites for this one, but I fancy the home side here, after a couple of tough European outings for Sale. Worcester by 4
Bristol v Sale
Top of the Premiership and top of their pool in Europe, and with the news that Semi Radradra will be joining, the Bears are rampant. They should beat London Irish here, even though the Exiles have been giving a good account of themselves so far. Bristol by 13
Harlequins v Gloucester
Quins have been poor so far this season, with a home defeat to Worcester last time out and just one win over Bristol so far this season. They are usually tough to beat at the Stoop, but Gloucester beat them comfortably on their in the most recent visit the capital, and I think they are favourites here. Gloucester by 7
What do you think of these predictions?