Aviva Premiership – Round 6 preview

Round 6 of the Aviva Premiership is nearly upon us and we are heading towards that stage of the season where teams have hit their stride and the tone for the year is reasonably set.

While this might be bad new for Sale and London Irish fans, who’s sides have been largely disappointing this season, it is a great prospect for the neutral as we have had one of the most open and attacking starts to a season in years.

Of course anyone who has only been watching Saracens games will not necessarily be aware of this, but trust me, its true. Saracens have though, after that tight victory over Quins last weekend, shown that once again they will be right up there when it comes to the end of the year, alongside Harlequins, Leicester and Northampton who have been the form sides this year once again.

So to the Friday night game, where Leicester travel to Sale, a fixture that in previous years was always seen as one of the tougher assignments. Indeed Friday night games at Edgeley Park where often the unsticking of many a sides ambitions.

This season though, since leaving Stockport, Sale have been underperforming badly, and it is hard to see this changing with the visit of Leicester. Leicester will be further bolstered by the return of Ben Youngs, and will be hoping to give Matt Tait a few minutes on the field too.

On Saturday Harlequins travel to Exeter, looking to regain some momentum after defeat to Saracens on Sunday. They will be hoping that their more open style of rugby will fare better than Saracens tight game did when they were beaten at Sandy Park two weeks ago.

Exeter meanwhile are simply looking for a bit of consistency in a season that has already seen them beat Saracens but lose to London Welsh. They will be looking to gather as many points as possible ahead of the busy schedule when they compete in the Heineken Cup for the first time.

Saturday’s highlight fixture is the West Country derby as Gloucester host Bath at Kingsholm. Both sides have been showing decent form so far this season but with Bath losing their top points scorer, Olly Barkley, after he moved to France, plus Gloucester’s home advantage, it is hard to look beyond the cherry and whites in this one.

Much will depend though on the ability of Gloucester to impose their forwards on Bath, as behind the scrum Gloucester look to have the beating of anyone, with Freddie Burns, in particular, in fine form.

The third Saturday fixture sees Northampton travel to Reading to take on London Irish. The Exiles have been in miserable form all season, only registering one win, while Saints have been back to their aggressive best. Their pack has been dominating, and their low risk game plan paying dividends.

It would be a shock to see Irish get anything out of this one, particularly given the flimsy nature of their defence at the moment.

On Sunday, London Welsh welcome Saracens to the Kassam. Logic would dictate that Saracens should walk away with this one, and perhaps it is an opportunity for them to trial a more expansive game plan.

It seems though that they will probably stick to their tight game, which while effective, may offer Welsh a glimmer of hope as a tight game offers them the chance to compete physically and increase the likelihood of a breakaway sealing the game.

The final game of the season sees Worcester make the trip to Wasps for a game that ought to be an intriguing one.  Results wise, neither has had the best start to the season, however both have actually been playing quite well. Attack wise they have both been looking good, particularly Wasps, but it is in defence, where they have both let in sloppy tries, that they have been weaker.

It ought to be an exciting game to cap an exciting weekend of rugby.

Predictions:

Sale v Leicester: Leicester with a bonus point

Exeter v Harlequins: Harlequins, Exeter to get a losing bonus point

Gloucester v Bath: Gloucester by more than a try

London Irish v Northampton: Northampton with bonus point

London Welsh v Saracens: Saracens by more than a try

Wasps v Worcester: Wasps, Worcester to get a losing bonus point

SHARING IS CARING!
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