Aviva Premiership 2012/2013 Predictions: Round 15
No Six Nations this weekend, but fear not. You need look no further than the Aviva Premiership for your weekly rugby fix. Here are our SuperBru predictions for round 15.
Bath v London Irish
Both of these teams come off the back of strong wins last weekend, Bath thrashing Worcester and London Irish pulling off a shock win against Saracens. The confidence that gives them will be key, and Bath will have to be wary of a team that will be galvanised by it. Bath’s back three of Biggs-Agulla-Abendanon will keep the Exiles worried, while experienced half-back partnership Stringer and Donald will make sure they play in the right areas. Irish’s win last weekend was as impressive as it was necessary, but I can’t see them winning at the Rec.
Prediction: Bath by 14
Saracens v Exeter Chiefs
These two lost to the teams propping up the table last week, and are bound to be fuming about it. Saracens have Vunipola back from England duty, and fellow squad members Strettle and Fraser join him in the starting line-up. Their back-line seems to lack creativity, but with a tight five the likes of the one they’ve picked, it’s unlikely to make a difference. Expect another stifling Saracens win, with Exeter’s greater endeavour and willingness to attack shut down by a brutish Sarries pack.
Prediction: Saracens by 6
Worcester Warriors v Northampton Saints
Northampton are in a worrying dip in form, having won just one of their last four games in the Premiership, while Worcester have lost their last three in all competitions as well. It is a real test of the Saints’ top four credentials and they will have to keep their discipline with Premiership stalwart Andy Goode ready to punish any infringements. The Saints, however, are able to name a team including the likes of Foden, Pisi, Hartley and Lawes and should be too strong for Worcester. It will be an arm-wrestle though, as the Warriors never role over at home.
Prediction: Northampton by 5
Harlequins v Leicester Tigers
The two teams topping the table at the moment go head to head at the Stoop on Saturday, and both have been able to name strong teams after welcoming back players from the international fold. For the Tigers Toby Flood, Manu Tuilagi and Thomas Waldrom all start in a strong looking team, while for Harlequins Danny Care returns at scrum-half. After last weekend’s defeat to Wasps on this ground, Quins slipped from top spot for the fist time this season and will be determined to bounce back by beating the team that leapfrogged them. It has the potential to be one of the games of the season, and is another that is very tough to call – so I’ll take the easy option and back home advantage. Could easily go eithr way, though.
Prediction: Harlequins by 4
London Wasps v Gloucester Rugby
It’s a fight for the top four at Adam’s Park on Sunday, as fourth takes on fifth. Wasps are somewhat of a surprise package this season and have been playing an attractive brand of rugby, second in the try-scoring charts with 31. Gloucester, the perennial entertainers, on the other hand, have surprisingly only mustered 21 and are one of only three clubs not to have registered a try bonus point this season. The battle on the wings could be devilishly exciting if the conditions are good and the ball is spread around a bit, with Wade and Varndell facing off against Sharples and May. Freddie Burns misses out as he continues to recover from injury, but destructive duo Kalamafoni and Qera will be vital to Gloucester’s chances. Wasps have been good this season, but after a highly impressive win at Northampton last weekend I have a sneaking suspicion that Gloucester might edge this one.
Prediction: Gloucester by 3
London Welsh v Sale Sharks
It will be Cipriani v Henson in the battle of the washed-out wonder boys on Sunday at the Kassam Stadium. That may be a little harsh, but neither player has lived up to the hype of their early careers and both will want to come out on top and get what would be a vital win for either side. A win for Sale and they would potentially be within two points (bonus points allowing) of Welsh, and one of Irish. For the Welsh Exiles, they will be keen to re-open the gap that has been closing at an alarming rate and causing them to look nervously over their shoulders. Whatever happens it will be a nervy, tight encounter most likely decided by a score. Sale are in good form for the first time this season, and could sneak the win.
Prediction: Sale by 3
By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43