Quins vs Saracens
Saracens have won 10/11 league games against Quins since the 2009/10 season, by an average score of 25-15. Those matches have followed a pattern, with a usually competitive 1st half and then Saracens powering away after the break. The visitors have ‘won’ the 2nd half in 9 of those 11 games by an average of 7 points and by 6, 7, 16, 5 and 20 points in the last 5 meetings.
At the Stoop, Saracens have won 5 of the previous 7 trips by an average score of 15-20 and again that 2nd half trend is evident. Quins have led or tied in the last 5 games at halftime there against this opposition, but then been outscored 2nd half – by 13,3,6 and 16 points.
It is also noticeable that they have tended to be low scoring games at the Stoop, with the last 5 matches seeing under 37 total points. Under 43.5 total points is available tonight and that would have also covered in 9/11 Quins home games last season (the 2 that went over had 44 and 46).
Putting too much emphasis on previous results / head to head record can be a mistake, but for this specific fixture am happier to do so. Bar the 24-19 win in March 2012, Quins have been frustrated by Saracens. There have been plenty of interceptions / turnovers likely due to the hosts feeling they need to force the pace – to escape a suffocating defence. Will be backing another low scoring game again and the visitors to continue their 2nd half superiority with Saracens -1 on 2nd half handicap
There has been a card shown in 17 of the previous 18 Quins games, and an average of 1.7 a match in that run. 2 or more cards have been given out in 5 of the last 6 matches between the teams. It is likely there will be an overreaction to Marler’s card against London Irish and queries over his suitability as captain – but it is worth noting he does have 3 cards in 8 games against Saracens. Referee Wayne Barnes averaged 2 cards a match least season. Have backed 2 or more cards at 2.5
Quins have won 9 of their last 10 Prem games when refereed by Barnes, with the exception being the semi-final against Saracens last season. The visitors have won 8 in a row with him in charge.
Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Marland Yarde, 13 Matt Hopper, 12 Jordan Turner-Hall, 11 Ollie Lindsay-Hague, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Danny Care, 8 Nick Easter, 7 Chris Robshaw, 6 Luke Wallace, 5 George Robson, 4 Charlie Matthews, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Joe Gray, 1 Joe Marler
Replacements: 16 Rob Buchanan, 17 Mark Lambert, 18 Will Collier, 19 George Merrick, 20 Jack Clifford, 21 Karl Dickson, 22 Ben Botica, 23 Charlie Walker.
Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Duncan Taylor, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 David Strettle, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Will Fraser, 6 Jackson Wray, 5 Alistair Hargreaves, 4 George Kruis, 3 Kieran Longbottom, 2 Jamie George, 1 Richard Barrington.
Replacements: 16 Scott Spurling, 17 Rhys Gill, 18 Petrus Du Plessis, 19 Mouritz Botha, 20 Kelly Brown, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Owen Farrell, 23 Chris Wyles
Bath vs London Welsh
Last year, Bath beat the bottom 4 sides at home by an average score of 26-14. The year before that it was an average of 36-15, including 40-25 against London Welsh.
With the visitors losing 0-52 last week, would expect the Bath -23 handicap to be well backed this week …and it is tough to disagree with that angle.
Exeter carried for 766m and scored 7 tries against London Welsh but also conceded 14 penalties so it could have been worse. There is usually the idea that a team will react to a heavy loss, however there is also a difference between an established side having an ‘off-day’ and a newly promoted group such as London Welsh being well beaten. The visitors have brought in plenty of new players which means they have probably lost some of the team spirit that was crucial in getting them out of the Championship. It will also take time for an understanding in defence to be developed.
There were cards shown in 9/11 Bath home games last season, with 2 or more in 6/11. Matt Carley averages 1.6 cards a match in his short Premiership career so far and can see London Welsh conceding at least 1.
Bath:15 Luke Arscott, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Anthony Watson, 10 George Ford, 9 Chris Cook, 8 Leroy Houston, 7 Guy Mercer, 6 Carl Fearns, 5 Dave Attwood, 4 Stuart Hooper (c), 3 David Wilson, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Paul James.
Replacements: 16 Tom Dunn, 17 Nick Auterac, 18 Henry Thomas, 19 Dominic Day, 20 Alafoti Fa’osiliva, 21 Peter Stringer, 22 Ollie Devoto, 23 Matt Banahan
London Welsh: 15 Seb Jewell, 14 Seb Stegmann, 13 Nic Reynolds, 12 Tim Molenaar, 11 Nick Scott, 10 Olly Barkley (c), 9 Piri Weepu, 8. Ollie Stedman, 7. Richard Thorpe, 6. Lachlan McCaffrey, 5. James Down, 4. Pete Browne, 3. Taione Vea, 2. Nathan Morris, 1. Ricky Reeves.
Replacements: 16 Nathan Vella, 17 Shane Cahill, 18 Jack Gilding, 19 Matt Corker, 20 Ben Pienaar, 21 Rob Lewis, 22 Tristan Roberts, 23 Tom May.
Gloucester vs Sale
Beginning the new campaign with the biggest loss since the 1996/7 season might put some external pressure on Gloucester, but it did occur at the current champions and a side with a very impressive current home record. A better assessment of how they may get on can be made after the upcoming home games against Sale and Exeter – especially as they lost those fixtures last year.
The hosts trailed at halftime in 6/11 home games last season while Sale led at the break in 8/11 away games. Looking at the last 6 matches between the teams, Sharks have been ahead 1st half in 4/6 by an average score of 13-8 and been outscored 2nd half in 4/6 by 7-9.
Redpath’s move from Gloucester to Sale did create some bad blood between the teams and Sale have conceded 16 and 21 penalties on their last 2 trips. There were 5 cards shown in the 2 matches last season.
Sale have lost 12/14 away games in this fixture by an average score of 35-16 and while that record and their away form in general has improved, there are reasons to oppose them this week. They will be without influential captain Braid and would think that restoring the home intimidation factor will have been top of the list of jobs for the new Gloucester coaches.
Gloucester -3 on 2nd half handicap would have covered in 5/6 home games vs Sale and their 2nd half avg score is 19-6 in that run of games.
Trinder has 4 tries in 7 games against Sale and is 5.0 anytime scorer this weekend.
Gloucester: 15 Rob Cook, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Henry Trinder, 12 Billy Twelvetrees (c), 11 Jonny May, 10 James Hook, 9 Greig Laidlaw, 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Jacob Rowan, 6 Sione Kalamafoni, 5 James Hudson, 4 Tom Savage, 3 John Afoa, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Dan Murphy.
Replacements: 16 Darren Dawidiuk, 17 Yann Thomas, 18 Sila Puafisi, 19 Tom Palmer, 20 Ross Moriarty, 21 Dan Robson, 22 Mark Atkinson, 23 Steve McColl.
Sale: 15 Luke Mclean; 14 Tom Brady, 13 Will Addison, 12 Mark Jennings, 11 Tom Arscott; 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Chris Cusiter; 8 Mark Easter, 7 David Seymour (c ), 6, Michael Paterson, 5 Jonathan Mills, 4 Nathan Hines, 3 Vadim Cobilas, 2 Marc Jones, 1 Ross Harrison
Replacements: 16 Shalva Mamukashvili, 17 Alberto de Marchi, 18 Eifion Lewis Roberts, 19 Andrei Ostrikov,20 Magnus Lund, 21 Will Cliff, 22 Joe Ford,23 Andy Forsyth.
Exeter vs Leicester
Since doing the double over Leicester in the 2011/12 season, the Chiefs have found it tough going in this fixture – losing 4/4 by an average score of 10-27 and not managing over 15 points. That fits in with their low scoring record against Northampton and Saracens too – they’ve lost the last 6 against those teams by an average score of 13-26.
Exeter have only scored 1 try in their last 4 home games against Leicester and those game have been low scoring – with total points of 37,30,21 and 30. The hosts will be confident after hammering London Welsh last weekend, but Leicester do represent a step up in opposition.
Found it tricky to have a strong view on this one. Would usually be tempted with over 43.5 points and Exeter +6 – but don’t want to ignore the fact that the likes of Tigers have often restricted their scoring. Settled for Tigers 1-12 margin at 2.62. Am happier backing them when Allen is in the side and think Tuilagi and Goneva may have some joy against 10 /12 /13.
Burns has scored 3 tries in 7 games against Chiefs so the 7.5 anytime scorer price may appeal. Tuilagi is 4.0 and Waldrom 5.0
There were 15 cards shown in Leicester’s final 6 away games last season, with 2 or more in 5/6 games. JP Doyle has given 2 or more cards in 4 of the last 5 Leicester away matches he has reffed. There has only been 2 shown in 8 matches between the teams though.
Exeter: 15 Chrysander Botha, 14 Ian Whitten, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Sam Hill, 11 Matt Jess, 10 Gareth Steenson, 9 Haydn Thomas, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Ben White, 6 Dave Ewers, 5 Ryan Caldwell, 4 Mitch Lees, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Jack Yeandle (capt), 1 Carl Rimmer.
Replacements: 16 Elvis Taione, 17 Ben Moon, 18 Moray Low, 19 Damian Welch, 20 Kai Horstmann, 21 Will Chudley, 22 Ceri Sweeney, 23 Jack Arnott.
Leicester: 15 Mathew Tait, 14 Niall Morris, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Anthony Allen, 11 Vereniki Goneva, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Ben Youngs (c), 8 Robert Barbieri, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Jamie Gibson, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Graham Kitchener, 3 Fraser Balmain, 2 Tom Youngs, 1 Logovi’i Mulipola.
Replacements: 16 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 17 Riccardo Brugnara, 18 Tiziano Pasquali, 19 Sebastian De Chaves, 20 Jordan Crane, 21 David Mele, 22 Owen Williams, 23 Matt Smith.
Wasps vs Northampton
Wasps lost by 61 points in their most recent meeting with Saints and while there may be the mitigation of that being an end of season match, you still have to go back 9 matches for their last win in the fixture.
Dai Young’s side have trailed at halftime in the previous 9 games with Northampton and been outscored 2nd half in 10/12 matches. The 1st half has been highest scoring in 10/12 matches between the teams.
Wasps won 4/9 home games last year, by an average score of 22-23 and were behind at halftime in 6 of the last 7 there. Bar the victory over Leicester in round 6, their other 8 wins came against the teams below them last year.
Saints won 6/11 away games last season (and 2 draws) by an average score of 17-19. Except for the 23 point win over Worcester and 13 point defeat at Sale (fatigue after 6Nations possibly an issue), their away games usually saw close margins. Can see that record improving this season and their avg away winning margin increasing.
Saints HT/FT at 2.0 would have covered on their last 4 trips to Wasps while the -2nd half handicap of -2 also appeals.
Burrell is 5.0 anytime scorer while Hughes is 5.5
There has been at least 1 card shown in the last 6 games between the teams with Luke Pearce giving 2 in round 22 last year. Pearce handed out cards in 10/13 matches last season, with 2 or more in 7/13.
Wasps: 15 Andrea Masi, 14 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Chris Bell, 11 Tom Varndell, 10 Andy Goode, 9 Joe Simpson, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 James Haskell (c) 6 Ashley Johnson, 5 James Gaskell , 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Lorenzo Cittadini, 2 Carlo Festuccia, 1 Matt Mullan.
Replacements: 16 Tom Lindsay, 17 John Yapp, 18 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 19 Kearnan Myall, 20 Guy Thompson, 21 Charlie Davies, 22 Ruaridh Jackson, 23 Rob Miller.
Northampton: 15 James Wilson, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 George Pisi, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 George North, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 Samu Manoa, 7 Tom Wood, 6 Calum Clark, 5 Christian Day, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Salesi Ma’afu, 2 Dylan Hartley (c), 1 Alex Corbisiero.
Replacements: 16 Ross McMillan, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Gareth Denman, 19 James Craig, 20 Jon Fisher 21 Kahn Fotuali’i,I 22 Will Hooley, 23 Ben Foden.
Newcastle vs London Irish
The hosts are on a 17 game losing run in the league, with their last win being the 13-11 home victory against London Irish.With a new pitch, decent signings and a desire to play with more ambition, do see that streak ending soon though.
They carried for 558m against Leicester last weekend but were pinged frequently at the scrum. While London Irish did have some joy up front against Quins in round 1, not sure they will win the same number of penalties there that Tigers did last week.
In the supporters forum last year (quotes from Chroniclelive.co.uk), Dean Richards said:
“I don’t think we get very much out of the referees at all. The appointment of the referees is quite startling in some respects. You have referees that some people would say are favourable to the home side, and we never seem to get those referees when we play at home.
We get probably some of the very best referees at home who are straight down the line, and whenever we play away we seem to get those who favour the home sides or are easily influenced by the home side”
Falcons had Sunday’s referee Andrew Small in 5/11 home games last year so he presumably was of the officials in question. They lost those 5 matches by an average score of 13-24 – however the opposition was Gloucester, Quins, Saints, Sale and Saracens so the hosts would have been underdogs anyway. London Irish have also lost 6/7 matches with him in charge by 22-18.
The pre-season view was that the hosts were going to be underrated this year and often worth backing at home. Will stick with that idea here – Falcons are 1.83 to win and 1-12 margin is 2.7
Fenby scored a 1st half hat trick against Newcastle in April and is available at 4.5 anytime scorer, while Aulika is 9.0. Hammersley carried for 112m and beat 4 defenders at Leicester, while Sinoti beat 5 and ran for 85. Those players are priced 5.5 and 3.25 respectively.
Newcastle: 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Sinoti Sinoti, 13 Adam Powell, 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Noah Cato, 10 Phil Godman, 9 Mike Blair, 8 Ally Hogg, 7 Will Welch (c), 6 Mark Wilson, 5 Josh Furno, 4 Calum Green, 3 Oliver Tomaszczyk, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Eric Fry.
Replacements: 16 Rob Hawkins, 17 Alex Rogers, 18 Scott Wilson, 19 Dom Barrow, 20 Richard Mayhew, 21 Ruki Tipuna, 22 Alesana Tuilagi, 23 Jamie Helleur
London Irish: 15 Andrew Fenby, 14 Alex Lewington, 13 Fergus Mulchrone, 12 Shane Geraghty, 11 James Short, 10 Chris Noakes, 9 Scott Steele, 8 Tom Guest, 7 Ofisa Treviranus, 6 Blair Cowan, 5 Daniel Leo, 4 George Skivington (c), 3 Halani Aulika, 2 David Paice, 1 Tom Court
Replacements: 16 Gerard Ellis, 17 Matt Parr, 18 Geoff Cross, 19 Kieran Low, 20 Luke Narraway, 21 Tomás O’Leary, 22 Eamonn Sheridan, 23 Topsy Ojo