Aviva Premiership – Round 4 Preview

Week four of the Aviva Premiership sees some exciting match ups, as the players focus starts to turn towards selection for the Autmun Internationals.

A strong performance this weeks and in the weeks to follow and a player can move from the fringes right into the heart of their national side. Don’t let that fool you though; their attitude towards these games will not drop, as a win and a good performance is more important than ever.

First up we have the Friday night game, which sees Sale host London Welsh in Salford. The Sharks are yet to record a victory, but have been steadily improving week by week, and will be targeting this fixture as a must win game in which to show all of their skills.

London Welsh though will be riding high after last week’s epic win over Exeter and will have targeted Sale as another very beatable team. After the confidence boost from last weekend, they will surely run the Sharks close and we could be in for a real scrap. A traditional Friday night with Sale then.

Saturday brings us a whole host of interesting fixtures starting with Bath’s trip to London Irish. The Exiles have had a dire start to the season and there are already serious concerns amongst the fans about their side’s fortunes.

Bath meanwhile have had a steady start to the season, and despite a narrow defeat at home by Saints will be going into this game confident of a strong win. The news about Olly Barkley’s departure at the end of the month may cause some problems though as they have been relying heavily on his kicking so far this season.

That should cause no problems this weekend though against a London Irish side fresh of the back of shipping 40 points to Wasps and running very low on confidence.

The other 3 o’clock kick off sees Northampton host Worcester. Northampton have won every game this season and sit second in the table, while Worcester are yet to win. This does not quite tell the tale of Worcester though who have looked solid if not spectacular, but have just been unable to convert that into wins.

Last week’s tough draw with Gloucester will have stung, and they will give the Saints a good fight, but Saint’s are more than capable of dealing with that and ought to win comfortably.

Wasps travel to Gloucester full of confidence after their 43-14 victory over London Irish last week. Wasps have started this season far better than anyone predicted and have been scoring try’s for fun, their only problem has been keeping people out at the other end.

Gloucester meanwhile have looked very solid, though they have been relying on the boot of Freddie Burns rather more than they might have expected at the start of the season. If they can start to unleash that backline, they could really start firing.

The big game of the weekend sees Harlequins travel to Leicester for the evening kick off. Quins top the table, and go into the game knowing that they are the form side, with bonus point victories in every game.

Leicester meanwhile have looked ominous themselves, and despite a rather dull 9-9 draw with Saracens at Wembley will still be full of confidence.

Expect a tough clash with plenty of added spice as players try to get one up on each other for national selection too. The likelihood is that this will come down to the boots of Evans and Flood at some point.

On Sunday, Exeter welcome Saracens to Sandy Park.  After losing to London Welsh last time around, the Chiefs will be hurting and Rob Baxter will be determined to see his side raise their level against Saracens.

Sarries meanwhile need to sort out their midfield conundrum. Four does not go into three, and picking the right combination from Farrell, Hodgson, Barritt and Tomkins will be crucial.

They are though ideally suited to the tough trip to Exeter and ought to be able to close out what will be a tough and uncompromising Chiefs performance.

Predictions:

Sale v London Welsh: Sale with Welsh to get a losing bonus point.

London Irish v Bath: Bath by more than a try.

Northampton v Worcester: Saints with a bonus point.

Gloucester v Wasps: Wasps in a high scoring game by around a try.

Leicester v Harlequins: Harlequins with Tigers getting a losing bonus point.

Exter v Saracens: Saracens by two try’s.

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