This week sees the Premiership resume and technically the return of all the International players after the 6 Nations. Whether all will be in the starting line-ups is still to be determined.
There is always the risk of a ‘hangover’ following the return to normal duties from the heights of the International arena – which makes it even harder for this week’s predictions (and a handy way to get my excuses on record!).
First up sees Wasps travel to winless Worcester and I’m going out on a limb to predict that after 16 consecutive losses in the Premiership, the Warriors will at last end up with 4 points. It will almost certainly be far too little at this stage of the season but Dean Ryan should be at least a little happier this weekend.
Four games on Saturday and I’m going for 2 home wins and a 2 aways.
The Saints will be smarting after losing to the Chiefs in last Sunday’s final of the LV Cup – they are likely to take out their frustration on their visit to the Sharks. It won’t be easy, Sale are looking good at the moment but I expect Northampton to still be top of the table when this Round is over on Sunday evening.
Gloucester have started to look a better side – especially at Kingsholm and will be bolstered by Billy Twelvetrees, Johnny May and Big Ben. If I were Nigel Davies, I’d keep Freddie Burns on the bench – he’s looked out of sorts and disinterested for some time now and is unlikely to be in contention for the summer tour to face the All Blacks. A rest and new challenge at the Tigers should do him good.
The big game of the weekend is at Wembley where Saracens take on Harlequins in what is effectively, a home game for both sides. Should be a cracker, with a raft of returning stars on both sides. I’ll go for head over heart (as opposed to heels) and give it to Saracens – just.
Last game on Saturday sees Bath travel to the Madejski to take on London Irish. Bath have been one of the form sides and will be hurting from the recent loss to Exeter. Irish to suffer a backlash– despite being at home.
Finally on Sunday the Chiefs travel to Welford road – another tough game. The Chiefs will be bolstered by the return of Tom Johnson and Jack Nowell plus the triumph of their cup win last Sunday.
Welford Road is not the fortress it once was but the Tigers should be able to subdue the Chiefs and their exciting brand of ‘no fear’ rugby.
To summarise –
Worcester to record their first win at the expense of Wasps
Sale to go down fighting against Northampton
Gloucester to continue their revival by beating Newcastle
Saracens to edge out Harlequins
Irish to lose to Bath
Tigers to hold off Exeter
The 6 Nations may be over but there’s still plenty of good rugby to enjoy.