The Six Nations resumes this weekend, but that doesn’t stop the Gallager Premiership from having a full round of fixtures. These weeks are always awkward as clubs juggle their lineups with their international stars gone, but with the playoffs rapidly approaching, wins are vital for league position.
Here is a look at some of the games with odds from BetXchange.
Bath VS Bristol – The Rec, Bath
The Rec hosts this classic West Country Derby with Bath and Bristol both off the pace in the Premiership this season. The hosts have just 24 points from their 13 games and sit bottom, while Bristol has 27 points and is just two places better off in ninth. Given how expensive the two squads are, it simply isn’t good enough.
Bristol will welcome back one of the big-money players, with Charles Piatau looking set to return after over two months on the sidelines. Piatau has been constantly injured over the last few seasons, but Bristol is a different animal when he is in the lineup.
Bath also welcomes back fullback, with Tom de Glanville recovering from a fractured hand he sustained in a Premiership Cup match earlier this season. The backline looks solid, with Cam Redpath and Max Ojomoh also in the lineup in the centers. TedHill will be a big miss in the back row.
Bath starts games as badly as anyone in the league. Take Bristol to win here, and having them winning at half-time and full-time is a prop I would look at too.
Saracens VS Newcastle – StoneX Stadium, London
England’s back row depth means that Saracens got an unexpected boost this week as Ben Earl was released back to the club for the visit of Newcastle. The hosts will still be without players like Maro Itoje and Owen Farrell, but Earl gives them a workhorse of a back-rower looking to impress to get back into Steve Borthwick’s plans.
Newcastle has been busy this week as they have added depth to their squad by signing Scottish prop Murray McCallum. The Falcons were blasted 30-12 last time out by Bristol, and it is hard to see them picking up a result here against a team that has lost just twice all season. This is especially true with Sarries looking to bounce back after losing at Leicester last weekend. The hosts win big here.
London Irish VS Leicester – Brentford Community Stadium, London
The Leicester Tigers were the big winners in Premiership action last weekend as they beat table-topping Saracens in a repeat of last year’s final. The big news was the return of fullback Mike Brown to the Premiership, with the veteran not missing a beat despite not having played since June last year. In his return, he was named man of the match, with he and scrum-half Ben Youngs key to the Tigers’ win.
London Irish are up to fifth in the table after putting together a streak that has seen them lose just once in their last six Premiership matches. I think they pick up another win here, with Leicester’s aging backline – five starters are over 30 – not quite having enough in the tank in back-to-back weeks.