Preview: Premiership, Round Four
Preview: Premiership, Round FourSHARE
Can London Wasps and Saracens remain unbeaten? Is this weekend the one which finally sees a little life from Harlequins and Leeds? rugby365 previews all the upcoming Guinness Premiership action…
It is still early in the season but a number of teams face important test this weekend. The Premiership is certainly not won in September but it would be foolish to image that a bad start to the season plays no part in what is going to come throughout the rest of the campaign.
Leicester, Harlequins, Newcastle, Sale and Leeds could all do with finding some try-scoring form while the top two, Wasps and Sarries, will just be hoping for much of the same this weekend after three impressive rounds worth of action.
Match of the weekend? hmmmm… take your pick between London Irish/London Wasps and Bath/Leicester Tigers – both should be exciting 80 minutes matchups.
Guinness Premiership Round Two:
Friday, 25 September
Newcastle v Harlequins (20.00) (19.00 GMT) – Kingston Park – Neither team has been able to record a victory yet this season but, with two draws to their name already, the Falcons will be hoping the home crowd advantage can spur them on to victory.
Steve Bates’ men went down to the Leicester Tigers at Welford Road last weekend but, after three rounds of action, have still only conceded one try. Add to that Harlequins’ trouble in getting over the tryline, and you can guess where we are going with this.
Looking at their teamsheets – Newcastle will be boosted by the return of Micky Young, Jimmy Gopperth and Danny Williams while Harlequins were hit hard this week with the news that star centre Jordan Turner-Hall would be out of action for four months.
rugby365 Prediction: A big weekend for both sides – the question is really which one of them will stand up and be counted? We tipped Quins to deliver last weekend at home against Saracens but they let us down – this week we’re backing the home side again. Newcastle by seven or more.
Saturday, 26 September
Northampton v Leeds Carnegie (15.00) (14.00 GMT) – Franklin’s Gardens – An impressive win last weekend, Northampton, and Shane Geraghty particularly, are starting to look like definite playoff candidates.
Leeds, on the other hand, continue to struggle to adapt to life in the top flight. Hammered 56-7 last weekend, Neil Back and Andy Key will be hoping to see a real response from their team this weekend on the road.
rugby365 Prediction: Anything other than a comfortable Northampton victory would come as a big shock to most of us in the office but, as fairytales have always told us, never rule out the underdog. We just can’t see Jim Mallinder taking Leeds lightly – the Saints will be targeting an impressive five point haul and win by 15 or more.
Worcester v Sale (15.00) (14.00 GMT) – Sixways Stadium – Round three was a disappointing week for both of these teams. Neither team performed anywhere near their potential and crashed to poor defeats at the hands of London Wasps and Bath respectively.
Separated by just one point on the log, this match could well be an early indication of how the entire season might pan out for these two sides. Worcester, tipped for a relegation battle at the start of the season, have shown promising signs but a loss here will see them slip even closer to the foot of the table.
Sale meanwhile are expected to fall somewhere in midtable but no doubt have aspirations for a top four finish. A loss to the Warriors would make that look a very difficult feat in the current campaign.
rugby365 Prediction: Sale have not impressed since their opening day victory over the Tigers but this is their chance to push themselves back into the limelight. Mike Ruddock’s men really shouldn’t have the strength to contain a firing Sale line. The Sharks to win by nine.
Bath v Leicester Tigers (18.05) (17.05 GMT) – The Recreation Ground – Potentially the match of the weekend, the defending Champions head to a resurgent Bath for their fourth round fixture.
Bath had looked all out of sorts up until last weekend but, inspired by the performance of two Australians, Julian Salvi and Matt Carraro, they have sprung back to life.
The Tigers on the other hand, despite having recorded two victories, are still searching for their first try of the new season. Limping along, Richard Cockerill’s men will be desperate to get over the try line as early as possible at the Rec.
One concern for Bath this weekend however is the possible absence of Carraro. Scorer of a brace of tries last weekend, the centre suffered a ‘cooking injury’ earlier this week and could miss the match.
Leicester meanwhile are hoping to welcome back a number of their big names from the injured list and rediscover their try-scoring touch.
rugby365 Prediction: A repeat of last years playoff matchup, there is less between these two teams than most will have you believe. Expect a fiery start but a controlled finish – with Leicester at the helm, winning by four in the end.
Sunday, 6 September
London Irish v London Wasps (15:00) (14:00 GMT) – Madejski Stadium – These two rivals are set to provide one hell of an entertaining contest this weekend.
The prospect of Tom Varndell and Sailosi Tagicakibau on the same pitch is worth going to the ground alone – add the likes of Paul Sacky, Seilala Mapusua and Danny Cipriani and you have some of the greatest talents in the Premiership on display all at once.
Both sides enjoyed good victories last weekend and will be looking to continue their good form into round four of the competition as well.
rugby365 Prediction: A tough one to call this week. London Wasps are undefeated for a reason – they’ve shown good resolve and determination under Tony Hanks already but Toby Booth’s men are starting to find their form as well. Irish to edge it by four.
Saracens v Gloucester (15.00) (14.00 GMT) – Vicarage Road – Top of the table Saracens finally head home after adventures at Twickenham and Wembley.
Welcoming Gloucester, the Sarries ‘tribe’ will be confident of making it four from four and proving once and for all that they are genuine title contenders this season.
Gloucester on the other hand desperately need a win to get their season back on track. An impressive win over Bath in Round One is just about all that they have to show for their season as two disappointing defeats against London Irish and Northampton left their boss Bryan Redpath ‘severely disappointed.’
With both Derick Hougaard and Glen Jackson showing good form, Brendan Venter is spoilt for choice at flyhalf. Both prodigious points scorers, Gloucester will know that any and all of their errors will be punished.
rugby365 Prediction: Gloucester just seem a team a little lost at the moment. Full of talent, firepower and skill, the Cherry and Whites are struggling to fire so far in the new campaign. Expect a better showing this weekend though – a more determined performance – but one which ultimately will still not be quite enough. Sarries to win by eight.