After two weeks off it’s that time of the week again… RUCK is back with their latest set of Aviva Premiership predictions ahead of the weekend.
After a tiring and exciting European break, the Aviva Premiership returns with reigning champions Saracens hosting newly-promoted Worcester at Allianz Park.
RUCK sees an eighth straight win in all competitions for Owen Farrell and co, and also predicts successes for Northampton, Sale Sharks, Exeter Chiefs, Wasps and Leicester.
Northampton Saints v Gloucester (Friday 27th November, 19:45)
This is a good game for Gloucester because nobody expects them to win. The Cherry and Whites struggled in their last away match, falling to a 23-3 defeat to Wasps, meaning despite their quality squad there is still a lot of work to do. Nevertheless, the back-to-back Challenge Cup wins will have given them a bit of a boost.
We keep saying this is the time for Saints, this is the game to kick-start their campaign, but they’ve lost three of their four league games this season, but two fantastic performances in the Champions Cup has them in a good place.
Northampton have needed to address the balance to the team in recent weeks and have done successfully. We think they will win this game by ten or so points. They’ve had a number of players finally find form with Luther Burrell and George Pisi being at the forefront of that.
These are two sides who could finish in the top four but at the same time easily could slip up. This could be an early season defining match.
RUCK PREDICTS: Northampton by 12
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Sale Sharks v Newcastle Falcons (Saturday 28th November, 14:30)
There is no doubt in our minds that Sale Sharks, who are strong on home turf, will come out on top in this one. We’ve been massively impressed by their resurgence following their opening day thrashing by Saracens. The Falcons, on the other hand, despite thumping a Russian side in Europe have looked off the pace and out of ideas.
Newcastle last beat Sale on their travels on the opening weekend of the 2013/14 season and in fairness both sides have developed considerately since that meeting. Last season the Sharks narrowly triumphed 34-28.
Both sides have an array of attacking talent, meaning the game will be likely won up front, and it is there where the hosts will be able to get on top of their visitors faltering scrum. Newcastle’s relegation fears will only grow.
RUCK PREDICTS: Sale by 7
Exeter Chiefs v Harlequins (Saturday 28th November, 15:00)
We like Exeter, and we are backing the Chiefs for a top four finish while Harlequins at the same time are not the best of travellers.
Rob Baxter’s Chiefs who, following their opening weekend defeat to Bath, have won three straight matches, look fantastic with their spectacular array of homegrown talent taking centre stage.
We are going to go with the men from Sandy Park, They will approach this game more cautiously due to Quins’ power up front, but they for sure have enough to win here.
RUCK PREDICTS: Exeter by 5
Saracens v Worcester (Saturday 28th November, 15:15)
We think this is a challenging game for Saracens as their visitors have nothing to lose. Worcester were very disappointing last weekend as they fell to a poor defeat to Zebre in Challenge Cup but will be able to recall some of their star players for this weekend’s clash.
Led by Owen Farrell’s impeccable boot, the reigning champions actually appear to have progressed from last a season and are the early pacesetters in the division.
Worcester have made a phenomenal start to life back in the Aviva Premiership, which started with an unexpected opening weekend win against Northampton Saints, as well as an equally valuable bonus point win at home to Newcastle Falcons.
Saracens undoubtedly have the stronger starting XV and, although we have predicted a comprehensive victory or hosts, it would be foolish to write off the resilient Warriors.
RUCK PREDICTS: Saracens by 20
London Irish v Wasps (Saturday 28th November, 17:30)
If you want to win Premiership titles, you have to go and win against London Irish away, but these are difficult rugby matches for Wasps because following their stunning Champions Cup displays there could be a hint of over-confidence but hopefully not.
London Irish boss Tom Coventry will set up his team perfectly, play very defensively and hope to pick them off on the break through Sean Maitland or through a set piece, but Wasps should have too much for them.
The visitors’ licence to thrill, with scrum-half Joe Simpson the architect, who should for sure get his chance for England in the new regime, should see Wasps come out the game with a bonus point win.
RUCK PREDICTS: Wasps by 15
Leicester Tigers v Bath Rugby (Sunday 29th November, 15:00)
Massive game. Neither of these two, despite their financial muscle, have appeared like powerful forces as of yet. However, the pair certainly has the personnel to secure a top four finish.
George Ford showed he can perform under pressure with a composed winning penalty against Leinster last weekend while Leicester also excelled with a bonus point on their travels against Treviso.
The Tigers are playing well at the moment, playing some decent rugby and have formed themselves around the resurgent Ben Youngs. He keeps on going even in the tight situations. I see them continuing their form here at Welford Road.