Thursday, 25 February 2010

Guinness Premiership Previews and Predictions

Revolving doors are being fitted in changing rooms up and down the country as players are starting to line up new clubs for next season.

There is still everything to play for in this campaign, and last weekend’s win by basement boys Leeds Carnegie tightened things up at the bottom of the table.

Here are my Guinness Premiership previews and predictions for this weekend.

Leeds Carnegie v London Wasps

This game is the Yorkshire club’s 500th competitive match and Carnegie are looking to celebrate the landmark with a first home win of the season.

In the reverse fixture on 1 November, Leeds achieved their first victory over Wasps in the Guinness Premiership when their forwards dominated the set piece. Back to back wins won’t be easy as Wasps have won all six previous of their visits to Headingley Carnegie.

Leeds earned their third victory of the Guinness Premiership season at Sale on Friday night, but their last home win was the 16-15 victory over Newcastle way back in March 2008.

London Wasps have won their last three matches in all competitions, and have won four of their last seven away games in the Guinness Premiership.

My prediction: Leeds’ forwards to dominate again. Leeds to win by 5.

Gloucester v Sale Sharks

Sale have beaten Gloucester in three of their last four encounters including a 28-23 win at Edgeley Park in round 7.

However the Sharks have slipped to six straight defeats, and a loss at Kingsholm would be their worst run since the 1999/2000 season.

Gloucester’s five game winning run in all competitions unsurprisingly ended at Welford Road on Saturday. The West County men are unbeaten in their last seven matches at home since Cardiff Blues won there in the LV= Cup on 8 November.

The Sharks' only away victory in the Guinness Premiership since January 2009 was 24-17 at Leeds on 22 November.

With Gloucester’s recent form and Sale’s lack of it, I’m going for a home win.

My prediction: Gloucester to win by 9.

Saracens v Bath

Sarries’ form has slumped over recent weeks.

After an excellent eight straight victories at the start of their Guinness Premiership campaign they have now only won one of their last four games. However the Fez heads have only lost one home game in the Premiership this season which was their 22-15 defeat by Leicester on 2 January.

Bath has risen from the foot of the table after four successive wins in the league. Can they continue their revival this weekend? I’m not sure.

Sarries’ home form has been excellent and they have already beaten Bath twice this season: 30-22 in the LV= Cup on 8 November, and also won 12-11 at The Rec in the Guinness Premiership on 31 October.

My prediction: Saracens to win by 10.

London Irish v Harlequins

Quins have already beaten Irish 16-13 at the Madejski Stadium this season in the LV= Cup on 31 January. The last time they met in the league resulted in an uninspiring 9-9 draw on 31 October.

London Irish started the season well, but a 12-12 draw at Newcastle on Saturday means they are winless since the start of the year. The Exiles most recent win was 23-19 at home to Saracens on 27 December.

Harlequins have endured an up and down season but ended a three game losing run in the with their 13-6 victory over Northampton Saints at the Stoop on Saturday.

The Quins have a superb record at Madejski Stadium, having lost in just two of 11 previous visits against all opponents in all competitions.

Looking at their form and the players missing through international duty, I think the visitors might just sneak this one.

My prediction: Harlequins to win by 8.

Worcester Warriors v Newcastle Falcons

Worcester Warriors are without a win in their last ten matches in the Guinness Premiership. Rumour has it that the National Lottery are looking to sign them up as draw masters as they have already notched up four draws in the league this season.

Newcastle Falcons will rival them for this glittering position as they also recorded their 4th draw of the Premiership season at home to London Irish on Saturday. The Falcons’ last victory in the competition was 12-6 at London Wasps on 3 January.

Worcester have already beaten Newcastle 32-6 at Sixways this season in the LV= Cup on 7 November. The Falcons took the Guinness Premiership encounter the previous week with a 14-3 win at Kingston Park.

My prediction: I’d love to say a draw, but I think the Falcons will take this one by 8.

Northampton Saints v Leicester Tigers

Northampton have already beaten the Tigers 23-11 at Franklin's Gardens in the LV= Cup on 6 February. In the league, Leicester won 29-15 at Welford Road on 31 October.

Northampton Saints' six game winning run in the Guinness Premiership came to an end at the Twickenham Stoop on Saturday. The Saints have won their last 17 games in all competitions at Franklin's Gardens since Newcastle won there in the Premiership on 28 February 2009.

Table topping Leicester Tigers are the best team in the Guinness Premiership on current form having secured 22 of their last 25 possible points. Leicester have recorded at least one league point from each of their last 29 matches.

International call ups will affect both teams this weekend, but I still think the Tigers will have the edge.

My prediction: Leicester to win by 3.

So what do you think?

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