There’s a break in the 6 Nations this week and a lot of players have been released back to their clubs to give them some game time.
England released 18 and it will, in particular, help two of the top clubs – Bath welcome back Attwood, Eastmond, Watson and Ford whilst Saracens will benefit from the return of Mako, Barritt, Goode and Ashton. Leicester get the welcome help from the Youngs brothers and Ed Slater to boost their injury hit squad.
Saints by contrast only get Lee Dickson for their home game v. Worcester.
Stuart Lancaster has only retained the starting XV from the first two England games so, barring a training ground injury, they will be the ones lining up against Ireland next week.
On Friday the Sharks host Saracens, and after last week’s shock defeat at home to Irish, Saracens will be desperate to get back on the winning track. Despite the Sharks (and Danny Cipriani’s good form) I expect the visitors to pick up four hard fought points.
There are four games on Saturday with the pick being Exeter Chiefs who will entertain (?) high riding Bath. Sandy Park is a tough place to get a result but on current form I think Bath will have a good afternoon.
Harlequins should get the result against the Falcons at the Stoop and expect a depleted Saints to pour more misery on Worcester at Franklins Gardens.
A tougher call is the Irish visit to Wasps – the away team will be feeling good after knocking over Saracens and expect a really hard game. It could go either way but I fancy Irish to pull it off – just.
The final game is at Welford Road with Leicester welcoming Gloucester. Both sides have three back from the England camp but it will be too much for the men from the West Country and Leicester will put some daylight between themselves and the chasing back in the table, but will still not break into the top 4 – not this week anyway. To summarise –
Saracens to win at Sharks
A Bath win at Exeter
Quins blast the Falcons
London Irish to make it back to back away wins at Wasps
Saints to down Worcester and
Tigers to take four comfortable points from the visit of Gloucester
So – it’s 3 x home and 3 x away wins for me – with the biggest call being for the Irish
Based on the success of my calls last week though I wouldn’t put my house on it!