Benefitting from a Replacement – Aviva Premiership R16 Review

After some 90 matches in this season’s Aviva Premiership my predictions are running at around a healthy 80% level. Hard to believe I know, but a ringing endorsement for the old blindfold and pin system I think you’ll agree.

Aviva Premiership Season Launch 2013-2014

It’s another break in the 6 Nations this week and some teams will benefit from having the international bench replacements available for their clubs.

There are some cracking fixtures and Stuart Lancaster will be keeping his fingers crossed for no cracking bones – especially in his pack subs.

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First up is Bath v Saracens on Friday and both sides should have several players returned – Ashton, Mako and Brad Barritt for Sarries – Attwood, Watson and Ford for Bath. On balance I think it will be the home side who will benefit more and with home advantage I have Bath to win – just.

There are four Saturday games – Exeter host Irish, London clubs –  Harlequins and Wasps are home to Worcester and Sale respectively and a resurgent Gloucester visit Northampton.

Regular readers will know of my enthusiasm for the Chiefs and I think this is the week when they will get back on the winning trail – it will not be easy as Irish are showing some form, but Sandy park can be hostile – and even Marlon Yarde will not find a lot of space to operate.

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Harlequins had a blip last week but it is almost inconceivable that they won’t pick up at least 4 points at the Stoop against the lowly Warriors despite missing Brown, Care and Robshaw.

Wasps v Sale is a tougher call but I’m making this my first away win for the weekend. Steve Diamond is building a strong side and with Danny Cipriani kicking his goals and playing close to the gain line, I expect them to come away with a hard fought win.

Gloucester have at last started to look like the a squad that can play – but I still think it is too much to expect them to win at Franklin’s Gardens – despite the number of Saints players remaining at Twickenham.

The final match on Sunday sees Leicester away at Newcastle – this is my second away win forecast. The Tigers are not looking their usual selves – but have still managed to get back into the play-off places. They will have Ed Slater and the Youngs brothers to boost them and we may even see the long awaited return of Manu off the bench. The Tigers by enough to deny the Falcons even a losing bonus point.

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So –

Bath to take Saracens

Exeter return to winning ways against Irish

Quins back to form v Worcester

Sale come away from Wasps with 4 points

Northampton stop Gloucester and

Leicester to pick up a win in Newcastle

A good weekend in prospect as we move forward to the following weekend’s big clashes in the 6 Nations.

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