2018 is here, the whole world is accessible through the wonders of the web, we all carry small, high tech computers around in our pockets and some say the colour television will hit Mansfield any day now. World politics seem more turbulent than ever with Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump playing a massive game of battleships while Britain is being run by a posh vampire with an affinity for wheat fields. In all honesty this modern world does my head in, Id rather lock myself away and use the only constant in this crazy world as my coping mechanism, and that (obviously) is Premiership rugby. The shining beacon in an often dark world and my adult comfort blanket. So lets take a look at this weekends games and Ill give you my opinion (what it’s worth) on them.
Lets start with Friday nights game at Sixways, Worcester come into the game after a decent performance against the European champions Saracens, though they lost 46-31, putting that many points on the Sarrie’s defence at the Allianz is no mean feat and scoring four tries is hardly common place. With news of a possible takeover at the club coming up the players will be looking to secure their future at the club and that is often a massive motivator. Bath also come into the game having suffered a loss last week at the hands of Wasps, in fairness I don’t think anyone would have beaten Wasps last week and Bath made a decent fist of it, but at home Im sure they would have been disappointed not to take the points.
Bath will be big favourites for this game but I’ve got a sneaking suspicion Worcester will edge this one, if you’re looking for an outside bet, I would go for this one.
First of the three games tomorrow takes us to Welford Road, Leicester are on a bad run of form having lost to the English champions last week and twice to Munster in the Champions Cup, Now I think you’d all agree these are hardly easy games but they really didn’t put up much of a fight against Exeter and although they aren’t quite in “Northampton” form I’m sure the fans will be starting to get a little worried. London Irish are their opponents, basement boys of the league and the team with most to gain from a win. Irish were unlucky last week against Newcastle and will have taken solace from their losing bonus point but with two new signings in Van Zyl and Botha from the Blue Bulls Irish will be looking to start taking more that one point from games.
Although I do think London Irish are playing some decent rugby I can’t see them taking the win this week. Tigers will find enough in the bank to see off the Exiles by 7 points.
Game two of Saturday sees Northampton take on Gloucester at Franklin Gardens, Northampton really are in dire form coming into this game, they were absolutely dreadful at Twickenham last week and made Harlequins look like world beaters. With no permanent DOR and no sign of any change of form, this really is the time to play the former champions. Fourth place Gloucester will be licking their lips at the thoughts of taking on the leaky Saints defence and with their pack in dominant form lately I can see the Cherry and Whites back line running riot.
I don’t think any betting man could back the Saints at the minute, I see another embarrassing day to be a Northampton fan. Gloucester will take the win, and take it comfortably.
The last game of Saturday sees Harlequins travelling north to the AJ Bell stadium to take on a Sale team that narrowly lost to Gloucester last week. Sale seem to be so hit and miss this season, making them so hard to predict but if there’s one assurance it’s that they will play much better at home. The Sharks seem to looking to make their Salford home a fortress and will be looking to get their first win of 2018 at home tomorrow. Harlequins come into the fixture having absolutely hammered Northampton last week and John Kingston will be looking to carry on that performance this week to keep up their push for Champions Cup rugby next season.
A tough decision this one but with Sale being at home I would back them for the win.
The first game of Sunday sees the geographical pain in the arse trip that is Exeter away at Newcastle. Both teams come into this week on the back of wins with Newcastle narrowly beating Irish and the Chiefs hammering Leicester. Newcastle look a new team this season and would love a win against the champions to secure their status as a top team in the English Premiership. Exeter are really looking like champions at the minute and with their impressive array of young English talent its easy to see why.
It’s always tough to travel north to Kingston Park but I couldn’t bet against Exeter at the minute. I think the campions will win, by around 10 points.
The final game of the weekend brings European champions Saracens to the Ricoh arena to take on the in form Wasps. Let’s face it, this is the game every one wants to see this weekend, Wasps irresistible attack against Saracens stone wall defence. Wasps looked magnificent last week and finally started to look back to their 2016/2017 selves, spearheaded by a fine performance from their South African fullback Willie Le Roux. Saracens on the other hand are in terrible form, only a win against the Premierships bottom team giving them a glimmer of hope. But with Itoje and Billy Vunipola back this weekend, Saracens could look a much different side.
I think Wasps have found their feet now and although Sarries will almost certainly look better with their returning superstars I don’t think it will be enough to stop Wasps. Tight but ill go Wasps by 3.