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Premiership returns with some cracking games after European break

After a two week break for European action, the Aviva Premiership returns for its seventh round of action, with many teams returning invigorated from their European exploits, eager to carry their form through to the Premiership.

The game of the weekend is surely Northampton versus Saracens at Franklin’s Gardens. The two sides had contrasting fortunes in Europe, with Saints looking shaky in victory against Glasgow, before succumbing to Castres in the South of France.

Saracens meanwhile were in rampant from, thumping Edinburgh before winning handsomely against Racing Metro in Brussels. With Charlie Hodgson in particular excelling.

In the Premiership though Northampton have been the pace setters, but Saracens had been regaining form as the teams headed off to Europe. The likelihood is that this game will be all about the forward battle, and in particular if England’s latest recruit, Mako Vunipola, can deal with the threat posed by the Northampton front for.

Elsewhere, Leicester travel to Gloucester in Saturday’s later kick off.  Gloucester won in the Amlin Cup, but will have to survive the loss of Andy Hazell for 14 weeks after his volley of fisticuffs against Mont De Marsan.

The Tigers had a poor opening round of the Heineken against Toulouse but bounced back brilliantly against the Ospreys and a continuation of that form will make them a tough side for Gloucester to beat.

The third Saturday game is Bath versus Exeter. Bath have been in good form at home this season, and will feel that a win is well within their grasp, but Exeter have shown time and time again that they are a tough nut to crack, just ask Leinster.

A tough defeat to Clermont will have stung though and how they react to that could have a big impact on the Chiefs season.

Tonight Sale travel to Worcester having finally found some form while on their European travels. With Cipriani playing well too, this would be an ideal opportunity for Sale to finally register that first league win of the season. Worcester will not lie down though, you can be sure of that.

Sunday sees Harlequins make the trip to the Madjeski to take on London Irish and the champions will be eager to cement as many points as possible before they lose players to international duty and all of the interruption to training and momentum that that brings.

Before the European break Irish were showing signs of form, but expect Quins to secure the necessary points without too much stress.

The final game of the weekend sees Wasps host London Welsh. Wasps are unbeaten at home so far this season, while Welsh have been defying the experts in some of their performances so far.

It would be a surprise to see them get something here though, with Wasps pace out wide and the know how of Stephen Jones likely to cause problems.

Predictions:

Worcester v Sale: Sale, Worcester to get losing bonus point.

Bath v Exeter: Bath by a score

Gloucester v Leicester: Leicester in a high scoring game.

Northampton v Saracens: Saracens, losing bonus point for Saints.

London Irish v Harlequins: Quins with a bonus point.

Wasps v London Welsh: Wasps.

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