Bath vs Gloucester
Recent West Country derbies have followed a pattern, low scoring – with 5/7 meetings seeing less than 30 points scored, plenty of cards – with 10 dished out in the last 8 clashes and they also tend to be won by Gloucester. The Cherry and Whites have actually won 9 of the last 10 confrontations and 3 of 4 at the Rec. Bath have only won 2 of 13 league games against their old foes.
The hosts have won 6 of their 8 league games and by healthy margins in the last 2 – against Worcester and London Irish but history would suggest this will be a closer match.
Gloucester matches have seen plenty of close finishes with 13 of last 16 games having winning margins of 7 points or less. With Burns back, will take the visitors with +4 points. I am expecting to be in a minority with that view and Bath will be popular but am going to go with previous trends in the fixture.
Both teams have seen 23 cards shown in their 16 matches so far, with 15 in 8 Gloucester away games, so am happy to back a sin binning or 2…or at least would be if the markets were up.
Looking at try scorer prices – May at 4.0 and Agulla at 3.5 will do.
Bath: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 Horacio Agulla, 13 Matt Banahan, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Tom Biggs, 10 Tom Heathcote, 9 Peter Stringer, 8 Ben Skirving, 7 Carl Fearns, 6 Francois Louw (c), 5 Dave Attwood, 4 Dominic Day, 3 David Wilson, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Paul James.
Replacements: 16 Ross Batty, 17 Nathan Catt, 18 Anthony Perenise, 19 Will Spencer, 20 Mat Gilbert, 21 Michael Claassens, 22 Sam Vesty, 23 Semsea Rokoduguni.
Gloucester: 15 Rob Cook, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Henry Trinder, 12 Mike Tindall (c), 11 Jonny May, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Sione Kalamafoni, 7 Akapusi Qera,6 Tom Savage, 5 Will James,4 Lua Lokotui,3 Rupert Harden, 2 Darren Dawidiuk, 1 Nick Wood.
Replacements: 16 Huia Edmonds, 17 Dan Murphy, 18 Dario Chistolini, 19 Peter Buxton, 20 Andy Hazell, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 Ryan Mills, 23 Martyn Thomas.
Worcester vs Wasps
Worcester have won 4/16 games by an average score of 19-22 and 4/8 at home by 19-15. They have lost the last 5 games and been outscored 2nd half in each of them.
There have been a number of games this season where they have felt a win has been robbed from late on, creating a sense of injustice. It may be coin toss whether that fires them up in the coming games or acts as a distraction, with decisions treated with a feeling of ‘here we go again…’.
The hosts have lost 4/5 matches against Wasps by an average score of 9-14 and it’s been a particularly low scoring fixture with 6 of the last 7 meetings seeing less than 27 total points. Under 42.5 points may suit, even with both teams showing attacking intent this season.
6/7 clashes at Sixfields have seen 4 point or less winning margins which explains why the bookies had trouble splitting the sides all week, settling on 1.83 for Worcester and 2.1 for Wasps.
Wasps won 9/16 games by an average of 24-22 and 2/8 away by 21-25.
Will take that 1.83 for a home win, they’ve had a few days more rest and the visitors have only won 3 of their last 24 away games.
There have been 26 cards in 16 Worcester matches and 14 in the last 5. With 7 cards in the last 7 Wasps away matches, a sin bin looks likely.
Worcester Warriors: 15 Errie Claassens, 14 Chris Pennell, 13 Alex Grove, 12 Jon Clarke, 11 David Lemi, 10 Andy Goode, 9 Jonny Arr, 8 Blair Cowan, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Neil Best, 5 Dean Schofield, 4 James Percival (c), 3 Euan Murray, 2 Ed Shervington, 1 Matt Mullan.
Replacements: 16 Aleki Lutui, 17 Ceri Jones, 18 John Andress, 19 Craig Gillies, 20 Sam Betty, 21 Paul Hodgson, 22 Danny Gray, 23 Josh Matavesi.
Wasps: 15 Hugo Southwell (c), 14 Elliot Daly, 13 Andrea Masi, 12 Chris Bell, 11 Tom Varndell, 10 Nick Robinson 9 Joe Simpson, 8 Sam Jones, 7 Jonathan Poff, 6 Ashley Johnson, 5 Marco Wentzel, 4 James Cannon, 3 Phil Swainston, 2 T Rhys Thomas, 1 Tim Payne.
Replacements: 16 Tom Lindsay, 17 Zak Taulafo , 18 Will Taylor, 19 Alex Rae, 20 Matt Everard, 21 Stuart Commins, 22 Stephen Jones, 23 Charlie Hayter.
Leicester vs Sale
I put up a stat in the week that Tigers had only won 2 of their last 8 home games against Quins and Saracens. Before that, they had won 22 consecutive games at Welford Road against those teams, so it is evidence that both sides have greatly improved in recent seasons (not really a bold statement given they’ve won Premiership titles) and also that perhaps Leicester need to make some changes if they are to stay at elite level.
It’s not all doom and gloom though, as both Quins and Saracens have similar records when they are at home in top 3 clashes and interestingly all 3 teams do better in the away fixtures.
Leicester have won 10/16 games so far by an average of 22-16 and 6/8 games at home by 22-17. Earlier in the season, they hammered Exeter 30-8 after their games against Saracens and Quins and having just faced those 2 sides again, it may be the Sharks turn to get the backlash.
Tigers have beaten Sale in the last 6 matches by an average of 31-15 and in 16/19 home games by 32-16. It was away at Sale in round 7 that Leicester turned their season around. They had lost the preceding 3 games and trailed by 10 points at the break. A rally that saw them outscore Sale by 31 points in the 2nd half started a run of 15 wins in 17 matches that took them to the final. Sitting in 3rd, it may be just the right time for another charge to the top.
Sale have won 4/16 games by an average of 16-27 and just 1/8 away by 13-31. They’ve been beaten by more than 20 points in 5/8 away matches lost their last 13 games against the top 3 sides. With London Welsh playing Saracens and also having the threat of a points deduction, there may just be a relaxing of the mood with the Sharks and I think they are going to be targeting their home games rather a trip to Welford Road for the points to keep them up.
Am backing Leicester to take out some frustrations after the Saracens loss and cover that substantial -14 handicap.
There have been 17 cards in the last 7 Leicester matches and 14 in the last 5 home games. There were 2 cards when they met earlier in season and the ref that day was Wayne Barnes, who has dished out 19 in 9 matches. Sin bin ahoy.
I can’t see too much in the way of value for Leicester try scorers – Thompstone at 2.4 may suit but I prefer to back wingers at 3.0 and above so will be avoiding. The backrow are all more than capable of crossing the line, but 4.33 is too short. I’d rather have Braid at 11.0 or Vernon at 9.0 for Sale.
Leicester Tigers: 15 Mathew Tait, 14 Niall Morris, 13 Matt Smith, 12 Dan Bowden, 11 Adam Thompstone, 10 George Ford, 9 Sam Harrison, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Tom Croft (c), 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 Ed Slater, 3 Logovi’i Mulipola, 2 Rob Hawkins, 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Replacements: 16 George Chuter, 17 Kieran Brookes, 18 Fraser Balmain, 19 Brett Deacon, 20 Jordan Crane, 21 Micky Young, 22 Matt Cornwell, 23 Scott Hamilton.
Sale Sharks: 15 Cameron Shepherd, 14 Tom Brady, 13 Jonny Leota, 12 Sammy Tuitupou, 11 Will Addison, 10 Nick Maclod, 9 Cillian Willis, 8 Richie Vernon, 7 David Seymour (c), 6 Dan Braid, 5 Fraser McKenzie, 4 James Gaskell, 3 Henry Thomas, 2 Marc Jones, 1 Ross Harrison.
Replacements: 16 Tommy Taylor, 17 Al Dickinson, 18 Tony Buckley, 19 Richie Gray, 20 Andy Powell, 21 Nathan Fowles, 22 Danny Cipriani, 23 Jordan Davies.
Northampton vs London Irish
When these sides met in round 6, it likely cost a few punters money (definitely caused grief over here). Saints had won their opening 5 games by 25-18 and London Irish had lost 4/5 by 18-36. The Exiles to be leading 33-3 after 61 minutes and Northampton making 18 turnovers was not part of the script.
London Irish have upset the odds in a few games this season, winning away at Gloucester and beating Saracens. It may be the case that they are able to raise their game for matches against top 6 opponents. They have won 5/16 games by an average of 20-27 and 1/7 away by 14-27. More recently it’s 3 wins from the last 4 games. After this round they have 2 key clashes at home against Sale and Worcester so am interested whether the focus, even subconsciously will be on those or whether their trend of ‘overachieving’ (given their league position) against top 6 sides continues.
Saints have won 10/16 games by 21-20 and 5/8 matches at home by 20-20. They’ve beaten this opposition in 11/17 home games by an average of 22-20 and have a number of players in their starting XV that will be looking to be put in a big performance to get back on the England radar.
Giving London Irish +11 would have been safe on 9/10 visits to Franklin’s Gardens and 13 of the last 15 meetings overall.
Both teams concede late tries in final 20 minutes with 10/23 for the hosts and 19/37 for the visitors – that may be useful for in-play punting.
There have been 17 cards in 16 Saints matches and 18 cards in the 16 London Irish games. However only 2 cards shown in the last 8 meetings of the teams.
Will have a look at Geraghty anytime at 8.5 and Treviranus at 21.0.
Northampton: 15 Ben Foden, 14 James Wilson, 13 George Pisi, 12 Tom May, 11 Jamie Elliott, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Lee Dickson,8 GJ van Velze, 7 Phil Dowson, 6 Samu Manoa, 5 Mark Sorenson, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Tom Mercey, 2 Dylan Hartley (c), 1 Soane Tomga’uiha.
Replacements: 16 Ross McMillan, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Brian Mujati, 19 Mark Sorenson, 20 Ben Nutley, 21 Martin Roberts, 22 Ryan Lamb, 23 Dom Waldouck.
London Irish: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Topsy Ojo, 13 Guy Armitage, 12 Shane Geraghty, 11 Marland Yarde, 10 Ian Humphreys, 9 Pat Phibbs, 8 Jon Fisher, 7 Ofisa Treviranus, 6 Matt Garvey, 5 Bryn Evans (c), 4 George Skivington, 3 Halani Aulika, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Max Lahiff.
Replacements: 16 David Paice, 17 Jerry Yanuyanutawa, 18 Leo Halavatau, 19 Kieran Low, 20 Jebb Sinclair, 21 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 22 Setaimata Sa, 23 Jack Moates.
Quins vs Exeter
This is a meeting of the league’s top teams for tries, passes (Quins 2333 to Chiefs 2135), metres carried (6509 to 6491), carries (1835 to 1703), defenders beaten (234 to 246), clean breaks (96 to 100) and both teams are amongst the bottom 3 for kicks from hands. That hopefully hints at plenty of tries being scored with over 4.5 priced at 1.8. If you are looking for a difference then Quins do offload more with 182 to 117.
Conor O’Shea was unhappy with both the performance and result after the round 6, 42-28 loss at Sandy Park, but last season showed he is more than capable of plotting successful ‘revenge’ against sides when they meet again. The 2nd half deficit of -16 points that game was their worst effort in over 60 league matches and I don’t see it repeating.
Quins have won 12/16 games by 27-21 and 6/8 at home by 26-17. First half has been highest scoring in 11 of last 13 games at the Stoop
The Chiefs have lost on 2 previous visits to the Stoop by scores of 13-40 and 13-19 and trailed at halftime in 4/5 meetings with Quins. They have also lost 7/8 away games so far this season by an average of 17-24.
The hosts have Nick Evans back and while -11 seems a big handicap, it’s worth remembering that the visitors have lost by 20 points at Saracens and Leicester already.
There have been 23 cards in the last 20 games at the Stoop – with 16/20 having at least 1 card. Combine that with 7 cards in 8 Exeter away games and 3 in their 2 trips to the Stoop and a yellow card looks likely.
Lindsay-Hague at 3.4, Dickson at 6.5 and Sireli Naqelevuki at 4.5 make for decent try scorer prices.
Harlequins: 15 Ollie Lindsay-Hague, 14 Tom Williams, 13 Matt Hopper, 12 Jordan Turner-Hall, 11 Ugo Monye, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Karl Dickson, 8 Tom Guest, 7 Luke Wallace, 6 Maurie Fa’asavalu, 5 George Robson, 4 Nick Easter (C), 3 James Johnston, 2 Joe Gray, 1 Mark Lambert.
Replacements: 16 Rob Buchanan, 17 Darryl Marfo, 18 Will Collier, 19 Charlie Matthews, 20 Joe Trayfoot, 21 Jordan Burns, 22 Ben Botica, 23 George Lowe.
Exeter Chiefs: 15 Luke Arscott, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Sireli Naqelevuki, 12 Phil Dollman, 11 Matt Jess, 10 Gareth Steenson, 9 Haydn Thomas, 8 Richard Baxter, 7 James Scaysbrook, 6 Ben White, 5 Damian Welch, 4 Tom Hayes, 3 Alex Brown, 2 Jack Yeandle, 1 Carl Rimmer.
Replacements: 16 Neil Clark, 17 Ben Moon, 18 Craig Mitchell, 19 James Hanks, 20 Dave Ewers, 21 Will Chudley, 22 Ignacio Mieres, 23 Ian Whitten.
Saracens vs London Welsh
Saracens have won 12 of their 16 games by an average of 22-15 and 6/7 at ‘home’ by 27-14.
When Charlie Hodgson starts at flyhalf, (10 games) – they average 27 points scored.
London Welsh have won 4/16 by a rate of 18-27 and lost the last 6 games. They’ve won just 1 of 7 away matches by 14-28.
The Exiles have conceded an average of 33 points in the last 5 matches.
The hosts have outscored teams in 6/7 home games in the 2nd half, with the exception being against Saints when they scored the same points as their opposition after the break. They have scored 24 and 26 points in the 2nd half in their last 2 games and average 16 points in the last 40 minutes at home.
London Welsh have been outscored 2nd half in 5/7 away games. They average 6 points scored in that period away and 14 conceded, with 28 points shipped in against Exeter in their last away game.
Will take Saracens -11 on the 2nd half handicap.
Saracens: 15 Chris Wyles, 14 James Short, 13 Joel Tomkins, 12 Duncan Taylor, 11 David Strettle, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Ernst Joubert, 7 Will Fraser, 6 Jackson Wray, 5 George Kruis, 4 Steve Borthwick (c), 3 Matt Stevens, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Rhys Gill.
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Nick Auterac, 18 Petrus du Plessis, 19 Mouritz Botha, 20 Andy Saull, 21 Neil de Kock, 22 Nils Mordt, 23 Ben Ransom.
London Welsh: 15 Tom Arscott, 14 Phil MacKenzie, 13 Sonny Parker, 12 Seb Jewell, 11 Seb Stegmann, 10 Gavin Henson, 9 Tyson Keats, 8 Alfie To’oala, 7 Michael Hills, 6 Julio Cabello Farias, 5 Kirill Kulemin, 4 Jonathan Mills (c), 3 James Tideswell, 2 Greg Bateman, 1 Franck Montanella.
Replacements: 16 Dan George, 17 Tom Bristow, 18 Paulica Ion, 19. Matt Corker, 20 Daniel Browne, 21 Alex Davies, 22 Gordon Ross, 23 Tom Voyce