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Aviva Premiership – Round 2

Round 2 of the Aviva Premiership begins tonight as new boys London Welsh continue their baptism of fire as they travel to the Twickenham Stoop to take on champions Harlequins.

After welcoming Leicester Tigers to the Kassam Stadium last weekend it doesn’t get any easier for Welsh with this trip to West London. Head Coach Lyn Jones has made five changes in a bid to keep the side fresh after that 38-13 defeat to the Tigers.

Welsh showed serious passion and determination in that match though, enough certainly to convince many observers that they will be a tough side to beat going forward.

Harlequins meanwhile will be on a high after their thrilling 42-40 win over London Wasps in the double header. You can bet your life though that behind closed doors Connor O’Shea has been fuming at their defending in allowing themselves to go 40-13 behind at one point.

That is certainly reflected in his selection, with fit again Ugo Monye back in the side, while Danny Care and Nick Easter both start from the bench. George Lowe returns happily to the centres as he tries to banish the memory of a speeding Christian Wade.

Elsewhere Wasps travel to Bath in a match where both sides will be slightly unsure of where they stand. Wasps can on the one hand say they scored 40 points against the champions, but on the other they blew a 27 point lead and will be hoping that it is their try scoring and not their defending that carries on form that opening weekend.

Bath meanwhile were clinical in knocking over their points to win against Worcester, but when all things are considered they will have been disappointed with the overall performance and will feel that with their quality they should be closing games out earlier.

London Irish host Gloucester in a game that the Exiles will be desperate to show some form and pride in after they were embarrassed by Saracens in the double header. Another bad result here and it could turn into a very tough September for Irish.

Welford Road sees its first game of the season as Worcester make the trip to the Tigers. Geordan Murphy starts after this week announcing that this season is likely to be his last. The silky Irishman has been a shining light for Leicester ever since he joined the club as a teenager, and he will be determined to show just how much talent remains.

Sale host Saracens, and after a terrible defeat to Exeter the Sharks are not going to find life any easier against a clearly in form Saracens side. With Ashton looking right at home at his new club, and Saracens playing with more expression that before, it could be a long afternoon in Sale.

Sunday sees Exeter travel to Franklin’s Gardens to take on a Saint’s side that started off with a bang against Gloucester, showing all of their fearsome power and skill in the forwards. With Pisi looking dangerous in the centres and Ryan Lamb showing signs of maturity, this could be a formidable Northampton side.

Exeter are fresh off the back of a huge win at Sale though, and confidence will be sky high in the Chiefs changing room. Never underestimate the Chiefs!

Predictions:

Harlequins v London Welsh: Harlequins with a bonus point.

Bath v London Wasps: Bath win, Wasps losing bonus point

London Irish v Gloucester: Gloucester, Irish with a losing bonus point.

Leicester  v Worcester: Leicester with a bonus point

Sale v Saracens: Saracens by at least two tries.

Northampton v Exeter: Northampton by 7.

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