We are getting to the serious business now in the Aviva Premiership. With just four games to go there is still a lot to be decided.
Six teams are still in contention for the 4 play-off places but by Sunday night that may be down to 5 and more importantly the home advantage may also be up for grabs – depending on the results over the weekend.
The fifth placed Sharks are at home to Harlequins with the loser probably being no longer in the running for the end of season finale. It is a very tight call but Sale have momentum, home advantage and the Player of the Month in Danny Cipriani. Despite Quins having all of their stars fit and on show I think Sale will keep their hopes alive for the end of season with a narrow win.
On Saturday the Tigers are likely to take all four points (and possibly five) from the visit of Wasps. The visitors had a good cup win over Gloucester last weekend but won’t be able to live with the power and pace of the Tigers. Leicester may well have British Lion, Geoff Parling available, although they haven’t missed him as much as expected with Ed Slater has looked pretty special in his absence.
Worcester are harbouring hopes that they may yet manage to cling on to life in the Premiership following their win at Newcastle, but, despite having home advantage this week, I think their life line will be snuffed out on Saturday by visitors Exeter. The Chiefs are not having a great run at the moment (despite winning the LV Cup) and lost at home to Gloucester last time out – but they will have too much for the Warriors.
There will be a fierce West Country derby at Kingsholm where tickets sold out quickly. There is little love lost between Gloucester and Bath and this will be a tough battle. Bath lost to chasers Sale before the break for the Heineken quarter Finals and will be desperate not to let them get closer. I fancy Bath to win – but only just.
The early game on Sunday is the big one – top place Saracens host second in the table Northampton. The Saints lost to Leicester a couple of weeks ago and if they lose this weekend they may see their home tie in the play-offs come under real pressure with the Tigers getting within touching distance. The ground and even the car park has sold out – it will be a hell of a game and we are lucky that it is one that BT Sport are covering!
The sensible money will be on Sarries at Allianz Park – but I’m going out on a limb to tip the Saints to snatch it as the home side may well have a bit of a hangover from their tough win at Ravenhill last weekend.
Finally on Sunday London Irish welcome Newcastle to the Madejski. I can’t see the Falcons troubling the Irish and if the Warriors do come away with anything from their match against the Chiefs then the relegation battle may just still be alive.
So, to sum up –
Sale to finish Quins hopes for the play-offs
Leicester comfortable v Wasps
Worcester struggle against the Chiefs
Gloucester downed at home by Bath
Saracens lose out by narrow margin to Saints
Irish easy winners v Falcons.
Tune in next week to scoff at the outcome of these predictions