Bath v London Irish
With home games against London Irish (10th) and Gloucester (9th) and a trip to Quins (8th) remaining, Bath should be confident of a top 4 finish.
They’ve won 8/9 home matches this season by an average score of 29-13 and led at halftime in 8 of those games. Bath have won 9 of the last 10 games with London Irish and the previous 5 meetings have seen 51 or more total points scored.
London Irish have lost 6 of their 9 away matches this season by an average score of 27-19, beating the two teams beneath them on the table – London Welsh and Newcastle, as well as Leicester.
One of the considerations for end of season matches is the motivation of teams that aren’t involved in the play-off race. Are they likely to roll over against teams that have more to play for, or does the absence of pressure make them dangerous?
There has been a card shown in the previous 10 games between these teams with 2 or more in the last 4. Referee Pearce has shown 10 cards in 11 matches – with 7/11 games having none handed out.
Will go for Bath over 33.5 points, Burgess anytime scorer at 5.5 and Lewington at the same price.
Bath: 15 Anthony Watson, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Matt Banahan, 10 George Ford, 9 Peter Stringer, 8 Leroy Houston, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Sam Burgess, 5 Dominic Day, 4 Stuart Hooper (c), 3 Kane Palma-Newport, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Paul James.
Replacements: 16 Ross Batty, 17 Nick Auterac, 18 Max Lahiff, 19 Dave Attwood, 20 Matt Garvey, 21 Carl Fearns, 22 Chris Cook, 23 Ollie Devoto.
London Irish: 15 Andrew Fenby, 14 Topsy Ojo, 13 Eoin Griffin, 12 Fergus Mulchrone, 11 Alex Lewington, 10 Chris Noakes, 9 Darren Allinson, 8 Tom Guest, 7 Blair Cowan, 6 Luke Narraway, 5 Jebb Sinclair, 4 George Skivington (c), 3 Richard Palframan, 2 David Paice, 1 Tom Court.
Replacements: 16 Gerard Ellis, 17 Jamie Hagan, 18 Halani Aulika, 19 Dan Leo, 20 Sean Cox, 21 Tomas O’Leary, 22 Shane Geraghty, 23 Eamonn Sheridan.
Sale v Harlequins
Quins have won the 7 matches against the teams below them on the table by an average score of 27-14 and just 2 of the 12 games against the teams above them, by 15-28 – so their position of 8th is probably about right this season.
In recent seasons Sale have struggled against this opponent, losing 7 in a row between 2010-11 and 2013-14 by an average score of 16-30. However they did win at the Stoop this season by 4 points and in contrast to other seasons, proved capable of slowing down and frustrating the Quins attack.
Sale have won 7/9 home matches by an average score of 26-14 this season, with only Bath and Leicester scoring over 14 points there. They’ve led at halftime in 8 of those home games. Quins have lost 6/9 away games and trailed at halftime in 7/9 of those trips.
Sale HT/FT is 2.0 and Care anytime scorer is 5.25
There have been 2 or more cards shown in 7 of the previous 10 Sale matches and 12 in the last 6 Quins games. Referee Barnes has handed out 13 cards in the last 6 Sale home games and 19 in 9 Quins matches going back to the start of 2013-14.
Sale Sharks: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Tom Brady, 13 Johnny Leota, 12 Sam Tuitupou, 11 Mark Cueto, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Chris Cusiter, 8 TJ Ioane 7 Magnus Lund, 6 Dan Braid (c), 5 Andrei Ostrikov, 4 Josh Beaumont, 3 Vadim Cobilas, 2 Marc Jones, 1 Eifion Lewis Roberts.
Replacements: 16 Tommy Taylor, 17 Ross Harrison, 18 Ciaran Parker, 19 Jonathan Mills, 20 David Seymour, 21 Will Cliff, 22 Joe Ford, 23 Tom Arscott
Harlequins: 15 Ollie Lindsay-Hague, 14 Marland Yarde, 13 George Lowe, 12 Harry Sloan, 11 Charlie Walker, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Danny Care, 8 Jack Clifford, 7 Chris Robshaw, 6 Luke Wallace, 5 George Robson, 4 Nick Easter, 3 Matt Shields, 2 Dave Ward, 1 Joe Marler (c).
Replacements: 16 Rob Buchanan, 17 Mark Lambert, 18 Darryl Marfo, 19 Charlie Matthews, 20 Netani Talei, 21 Karl Dickson, 22 Ben Botica, 23 Ugo Monye
Gloucester v Newcastle
This has been a high scoring fixture in the past, usually won by Gloucester. The hosts have won 17/19 games by an average score of 31-19, with last season’s match having a 40-33 score and 10 tries.
Gloucester have won 1 of their previous 6 league matches and 4/9 at home this season, however having just reached the final of the Challenge Cup should be in good spirits going into this contest.
Newcastle have lost 8 of their 9 away matches this season but have scored 17 points or more in 7 of those games.
Over 47.5 total points is 1.85, with Robson anytime 4.33 and Harris 7.0
Gloucester: 15 Charlie Sharples, 14 Jonny May, 13 Brendan Macken, 12 Billy Twelvetrees (c), 11 Henry Purdy, 10 Billy Burns, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Sione Kalamafoni, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Ross Moriarty, 5 Mariano Galarza, 4 Elliott Stooke, 3 Sila Puafisi, 2 Darren Dawidiuk, 1 Yann Thomas
Replacements: 16 Richard Hibbard, 17 Dan Murphy, 18 John Afoa, 19 Tom Savage, 20 Gareth Evans, 21 Greig Laidlaw, 22 James Hook, 23 Bill Meakes
Newcastle: 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Alex Tait, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Rory Clegg, 9 Ruki Tipuna, 8 Ally Hogg, 7 Will Welch (c), 6 Mark Wilson, 5 Kane Thompson, 4 Josh Furno, 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Rob Vickers
Replacements: 16 George McGuigan, 17 Eric Fry, 18 Juan Pablo Orlandi, 19 Will Witty, 20 Sean Robinson, 21 Sonatane Takulua, 22 Andy Tuilagi, 23 Adam Powell
Leicester v London Welsh
London Welsh have lost their 9 away matches by an average score of 54-10 so the expectation will be that this should be an easy try bonus point win for the hosts. Leicester have only managed 3 of those this season though and rank 11th for point scored.
As with the 2013-14 campaign, injuries at centre have been a factor in the attack spluttering – with the likely first choice combination of Allen and Tuilagi only starting 5 of a possible 43 league matches.
Tigers have 7 wins and a draw from their 9 home matches this season, by an average score of 23-16.
Only London Irish have scored a 1st half try against them at home and 7 opponents have been kept below 10 points before the break there.
Not sure this is a match to get involved with, but would probably risk London Welsh +43 based on Leicester’s previous problems scoring tries.
Leicester Tigers: 15 Niall Morris, 14 Blaine Scully, 13 Mathew Tait , 12 George Catchpole, 11 Adam Thompstone, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Ben Youngs (c), 8 Laurence Pearce, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Jamie Gibson, 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Logovi’i Mulipola, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 1 Michele Rizzo.
Replacements: 16 Tom Youngs, 17 Riccardo Brugnara, 18 Fraser Balmain, 19 Geoff Parling, 20 Jordan Crane, 21 Sam Harrison, 22 Tommy Bell, 23 Seremaia Bai.
London Welsh: 15 Alan Awcock, 14 Rhys Crane, 13 Nic Reynolds, 12 James Lewis, 11 Chris Elder, 10 Olly Barkley, 9 Rob Lewis, 8 Chris Hala’ufia 7 Darren Waters, 6 Ben Pienaar, 5 Matt Corker (C), 4 Ben West, 3 Ben Cooper, 2 Koree Britton, 1 Nathan Trevett.
Replacements: 16 Nathan Morris, 17 Eddie Aholelei, 18 Jack Gilding, 19 Josh McNally, 20 Opeti Fonua , 21 Richard Thorpe, 22 Paul Rowley, 23 Will Robinson
Northampton v Saracens
Northampton’s home record over the last couple of seasons has been impressive, with 19/21 wins by an average score of 33-16. However this game will be played at Stadium MK rather than Franklin’s Gardens. These teams met at that venue in 2012-13, with Saracens winning 17-16.
Since that match, Saints have won 4 of the following 5 league games (including an extra time victory in the final) between the teams and a noticeable trend has been their strong starts. They’ve led by 17,11,1 and 17 points at halftime in the victories and trailed by 11 in the match they lost.
Saints conceded 33 points against Gloucester, 30 against Wasps, 21 at Exeter and 37 at Clermont in recent matches. The scrum was in trouble against the Chiefs and Clermont and the missed tackle rate has been relatively high in the 2nd half of this season.
Saracens have lost away at Bath, Exeter, Gloucester and Sale already this season, but with players such as Barritt and Farrell returning to fitness there is a sense that they might be peaking at the right time in this campaign.
Saracens have named a very strong bench and the +3 on the 2nd half handicap would have landed in 10/12 games against this opponent and 15/19 matches this season.
There has been a card shown in the previous 12 Northampton league matches and 27 in 19 Saracens matches, with 9 in the last 5. Surprisingly there have only been 3 cards in the previous 9 games between the teams since 2011-12. Saracens have lost their last 3 games when refereed by Garner – away at Leicester, Bath and Exeter. Saints have won 12 wins and a draw from their 15 matches with Garner in charge since 2010-11.
Northampton: 15 Ahsee Tuala, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 George Pisi, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 Jamie Elliott, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Kahn Fotuali’i, 8 Samu Manoa, 7 Calum Clark, 6 Tom Wood, 5 Christian Day, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Salesi Ma’afu, 2 Dylan Hartley (c), 1 Alex Corbisiero
Replacements: 16 Mike Haywood, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Gareth Denman, 19 Sam Dickinson, 20 Jon Fisher, 21 Lee Dickson, 22 Tom Stephenson, 23 James Wilson
Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 David Strettle, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Brad Barritt (c), 11 Chris Wyles, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Neil de Kock, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Kelly Brown, 6 Ernst Joubert, 5 Maro Itoje, 4 George Kruis, 3 James Johnston, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Mako Vunipola
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Rhys Gill, 18 Kieran Longbottom, 19 Jim Hamilton, 20 Jackson Wray, 21 Richard Wigglesworth, 22 Owen Farrell, 23 Chris Ashton
Wasps v Exeter
Exeter have won 7 of 9 league matches with Wasps by an average score of 24-18 and scored an average of 19 points in the 1st half in the previous 5 meetings.
The Chiefs started this season with 7/9 wins and scored 184 of their 283 points before the break. Since round 10, their 1st half average points has dropped from 20 to 12 and they have been scoring more points 2nd half – with at least 13 points scored in the previous 8 matches.
Having lost the LV Cup final against Saracens and then the Challenge Cup semi-final at Gloucester last week, Exeter will be keen to ensure a promising season doesn’t end early.
Wasps have lost 6/8 matches against the teams above them on the table by an average score of 23-30. At home they have beaten Northampton and Bath and lost to Saracens. Against all opponents in the league it is 8/9 home wins by an average score of 37-16.
Will go for Exeter +6
Referee Carley has given 18 cards in 14 matches. Exeter have won away at Gloucester and Harlequins with him in charge and he handed out 5 cards in those games. Wasps have lost their previous 3 matches with Carley as referee – the Saracens game this year and against Saints and Bath last season.
Wasps: 15 Andrea Masi, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Alapati Leiua, 11 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 10 Andy Goode, 9 Joe Simpson, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 James Haskell (c), 6 Ashley Johnson, 5 Kearnan Myall, 4 James Gaskell, 3 Lorenzo Cittadini, 2 Carlo Festuccia, 1 Matt Mullan
Replacements: 16 Edd Shervington, 17 Simon McIntyre, 18 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 19 James Cannon, 20 Guy Thompson, 21 Charlie Davies, 22 Alex Lozowski, 23 Rob Miller
Exeter: 15 Byron McGuigan, 14 Ian Whitten, 13 Jack Nowell, 12 Sam Hill, 11 Matt Jess, 10 Henry Slade, 9 Will Chudley, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Kai Horstmann, 6 Dave Ewers, 5 Mitch Lees, 4 Dean Mumm (c), 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Jack Yeandle, 1 Ben Moon
Replacements: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Carl Rimmer, 18 Alex Brown, 19 Damian Welch, 20 Tom Johnson, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 Gareth Steenson, 23 Tom James