The Aviva Premiership kicked off spectacularly well last weekend with Northampton Saints, Saracens and Leicester all looking particularly impressive.
Also impressing were Bath who despite tough conditions in Newcastle put 21 unanswered points past their hosts, while Sale secured what took them eight games to achieve last year, a win, against Gloucester at Kingsholm.
2012 champions Harlequins also managed a win but they only just sneaked past Wasps who were denied in heartbreaking fashion as Andy Goodeâ€™s match deciding conversion cruelly struck the post.
Friday 19.45 â€“ Harlequins v Northampton Saints
Quins were not great against Wasps but they did manage to get a win and that, ultimately is what counts. Saints though by contrast were magnificent against Exeter, absolutely blowing them away. Their blend of powerful running and accurate handling was simply too much for the Chiefs to handle and confirmed the positive talk surrounding Franklinâ€™s Gardenâ€™s all summer.
Theoretically that ought to make Saints clear favourites, however this will not be a game like the weekend, first of all it will be wet and miserable, but more importantly it will be at the level of a play off game or a Heineken Cup fixture, the pressures are so much greater when top sides meet, and having seen Quins lift the title two years ago we know they can win the pressure matches. Saints were superb at the weekend though and they do have some serious big game players, it will be tight.
Prediction â€“ Northampton Saints
Friday 20.00 â€“ Sale Sharks v Newcastle Falcons
Sale got off to a dream start against Gloucester while Newcastle got off to a rather frustrating, if expected, start against Bath.
For Sale this could be two wins form two and even at this early stage of the season it could have a huge significance on their final standing in the table; to be able to separate themselves from the likely contenders down there would be a major boost for the club.
Newcastle are no pushovers though, and while many find a trip to Sale on a Friday night unpleasant Newcastle wonâ€™t be bothered, they have their own Friday night misery arena.
Sale go in as favourites with that home advantage though, and particularly after that win against Gloucester. It would be a surprise if they are not far more thoroughly tested tonight than they were last week though.
Prediction â€“ Sale Sharks
Saturday 15.00 â€“ Exeter Cheifs v London Wasps
Exeter will not have enjoyed that rather crushing defeat by Northampton last weekend but they return to Sandy Park this week and will be comforted by the knowledge of how successfully they have defended their home ground in the last few seasons.
In Andy Goode though Wasps have the perfect antidote to the â€˜Sandy Park factorâ€™. Despite his late miss last week, he is exactly what a side needs in Exeter, a man who will keep the scoreboard ticking over and happily keep the Exeter back three under pressure through his kicking game.
This should be a close contest and maybe a tougher one than Exeter fans might expect.
Prediction â€“ Exeter Chiefs
Saturday 15.00 â€“ Worcester Warriors v London Irish
Even before the season started this felt like an important game for both sides. Both are expected to be fighting it out at the foot of the table come the end of the season and when you are in that position points against your closest rivals are like gold dust.
Worcester got a bit of hammering from Leicester at the weekend while London Irish went down to Saracens. If Brian Smith is to believed though then they will have gained quite a lot of confidence despite the defeat and could go into this game feeling quite good about their game.
In fairness Smith is right to an extent, Irish did look the better of these two last weekend and if they can carry that through then it will be a valuable little edge.
Prediction â€“ London Irish
Saturday 15.15 â€“ Bath v Leicester Tigers
This is one of the all time great English domestic fixtures, and with Bath looking like they are on the up it could be that this season it sees a raise in its significance once again.
Bath look very exciting at the moment and have the air of a team that, if everything clicks into place, could beat whichever opposition they are facing.
Tigers meanwhile look like, well, Tigers. They were good and clinical last weekend and though they have received the tough news this week that Tom Croft is out for the season, they are littered with top quality experienced players.
Our feeling is that this one may just have come to early in the season for Bath.
Prediction â€“ Bath
Sunday 14.00 â€“ Saracens v Gloucester
Gloucester must be praying that last weekend was an aberration and that normal service will be resumed this week, however Saracens would not have been the opponent they would have chosen to try to rectify that Sale performance against.
Saracens looked good against Irish, they have recruited well and are collectively a year older and more experienced, it shows, they understand where they fell short last year and have worked out how to correct it.
It is a tall order for Gloucester but despite last weekâ€™s showing they do have the capacity to beat any team given the talent that they have available.
Prediction â€“ Saracens
What do you think of our predictions? Who are your favourites this weekend? You can get in touch via the comments box below or via @FifteenRugbyXV or through Facebook.
We look forward to hearing your opinions!
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