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Aviva Premiership – Round 3

Round 3 of the Aviva Premiership brings us one of the top fixtures of the season as Leicester travel of Wembley Stadium to take on Saracens.

Both sides have won their opening games of the season in emphatic style, with a focus on attacking and high-energy rugby. For two sides with a reputation for forward based rugby, this has been a welcome change for spectators.

Saracens probably go in as mild favourites due to their ‘home’ advantage, though Leicester have arguably been in slightly better form this season, with bonus point victories in both their opening games.

Leicester will have to cope without flanker Craig Newby, who retired this week due to a serious knee injury. The former All Black has been a real stalwart for the Tigers in recent years and will be sorely missed.

Bath will host Northampton at the Rec on Friday night, and the Saints have been in typically efficient form so far, winning both matches and displaying all of their expected forward power.

Bath too have won their opening fixtures, but have looked less assured in victory, relying heavily on the boot of Olly Barkley. It looks to be another tough game for both sides, but Saints’ superior power in the pack and the early season form of Ryan Lamb ought to be enough.

Sale face a tough trip to the Twickenham Stoop to take on Harlequins. Quins have had a perfect start to the season, running in tries from all over the park, and the form of fly half, Nick Evans, has been sensational – as always.

For Sale it is likely to be a bit of a lesson, and one that their young pretender in the 10 shirt, Danny Cipriani, should pay close attention to. A man with all the skills to emulate Evans’ achievements, Cipriani would do well to watch the way the master operates.

Elsewhere, London Irish make the trip from Reading to High Wycombe to take on London Wasps in the rather mixed up world of rugby geography.

Neither side has started the season brilliantly, but with both showing some real signs of attacking promise, this could be one of the games of the weekend for the neutral, and a very important game to win come the end of the season.

Sixways sees Worcester host Gloucester in a game that seems likely on early season form to come down to the boots of Andy Goode and Freddie Burns. With Gloucester possessing a bit more firepower they look likely to come out on top.

Sunday sees London Welsh host Exeter in what you would have to say is their first winnable fixture of the season. Exeter though have been in excellent form early on with a huge win at Sale and a narrow loss to Northampton.

The Chiefs will be determined not to let their form slip, but Welsh will have been targeting this since the fixtures were announced. Likely to be a belter.

Predictions:

Friday:

Bath v Saints – Saints by at least a try

Saturday:

Saracens v Leicester – Leicester by less than a try in a high scoring game

Wasps v London Irish – Wasps by a try , with a try bonus point.

Harlequins v Sale – Harlequins with a bonus point

Worcester v Gloucester – Gloucester, just.

Sunday:

London Welsh v Exeter – Exeter, Welsh with a losing bonus point.

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