Round 15 of the English Premiership kicks off on Friday night. It features five matches, concluding with the Sunday afternoon 3 pm kickoffs of Harlequins hosting Sale and Bristol traveling to London Irish.
Here is a look at the games with odds from BetXchange.
Newcastle Falcons VS Leicester Tigers – Kingston Park, Newcastle
Tenth plays sixth here as the Tigers travel north to face the Falcons. Saracens and Sale have run away at the top of the table, but the middle is a logjam of teams, and the Tigers know a win here is vital before a break for Europe and the number of players they are about to lose to the England squad for the upcoming Six Nations.
The line is 2.5 points in their favor, and their kicking game was on point in their win over Gloucester over the festive period. I expect more of the same here as they beat Newcastle by a try or so on their own patch.
Exeter Chiefs VS Northampton Saints – Sandy Park, Exeter
Exeter and Northampton are separated by two places and four points on the log, with the visitors here in fifth place and the hosts in seventh. The Chiefs had been on a five-game winning run across all comps before lowing to runaway Premiership leaders Saracens last time out, and I expect them to get back on the horse here. They are back to playing Exeter-style rugby again, which always works best around this time of year, with the conditions in England favoring their style of close-quarters, forward-driven play. They win and cover here.
Harlequins VS Sale Sharks – Twickenham Stoop, London
The best match of the round in league position sees second-place Sale travel to London to take on third-placed Harlequins. The Sharks have developed a seven-point gap over the chasing pack for a home semi-final spot, so the rest of the league will be looking for Quins to take them down here. The hosts are very slight (0.5 point) favorites, and they need a win after losing two on the bounce, including one to the bottom of the log Bristol. I like Harlequins to win as Sale are not great travelers, having not won on the road in any competition for almost two months. Watch for Caden Murley to make a decisive break or two here as he leads the league in clean breaks with 18.
London Irish VS Bristol Bears – Brentford Community Stadium, London
Bristol and London Irish meet in a bottom of the table scrap between bottom (Bristol) and third bottom (Irish). It is a game that would have mattered far more when relegation was in play, but the tightness of the table this year means that Bristol is just nine points out of fourth place and the final playoff spot.
The line is 4.5 in favor of Irish, and it is worth noting that while they have just a pair of wins over the last two months, they continually pick up losing bonus points. Bristol hasn’t won two away games in a row since May 2021 – a stunning streak – but they have also lost to Irish just once since 2009. I think the hosts win here, but no result would shock me.