Predictions: AP round 21
19 April, 2012 12:05
With two rounds to go everything hangs on this weekend's fixtures, only game has nothing to do with play-offs or relegation. At the end of it, we could know who will be relegated as well as the top four teams, but we could be looking at a potential very interesting final weekend.
(12th)Falcons Vs Sarries (3rd)
Although, many peoples' minds would rightly presume this should be a 5 pointer for Saracens because the sheer difference in quality between the two squads. However, I don't think Newcastle will win, but they may just secure that all important losing bonus point, which could prove crucial. I was impressed in the manner they won at an imploding Gloucester last week at Kingsholm, and if they show the same desire and spirit then they may just push Saracens all the way.
Prediction; Less than or equal to 7 points difference in Sarries favour.
(8th) Bath Vs Wasps (11th)
This is a very tough game to call due to the disastrous positions both clubs are in. For me, Baths have severly underperformed all season and with the squad they have, they should be winning more games. With McGeechan going, it will be interested to see how motivated the players will be, even though they have an outside chance of top 6. Wasps, debateably, are another underperforming side, but injuries have really been hurting them. Their fit players will want to secure a spot in the Premiership for next season before the final weekend, however, I think it is destined to be decided on the last day, when Wasps and Newcastle meet at Adams Park.
Prediction; Bath by 3 or 4 points
(7th) Gloucester Vs Sale (6th)
Another tough game to call, especially due to the Redpath saga which has risen this week. If Sale win, they will secure Heinekin cup rugby for next season, at the expence of Glucetser. Kingsholm faithful will expect a response to what can only be described as a horrific result for a side who beat Toulouse at home, and I can fully understand the booing at the end, even though I don't think its right. I expect to see a response from Gloucester, even without the departed Redpath, and I think that it may be a day when Gloucester release their rapid backline. I feel Gloucester should win, but Sale could get the bp which may prove useful. (personally, as a Quins fan, a Sale win would be nice to make the final game against us less stressful, due to Sale not necessarily needing to win).
Prediction; Gloucester by 7 or more
(10th) Worcetser Vs L Irish (9th)
This is the only game with nothing riding on it, except the fact that Worcester could leapfrog Irish. Worcester are building for next season though now, and will be relieved to be out of the relegation battle. Irish... well... they are on the slide, and don't seem to be in any rush to changing that. Like Bath, you can argue they have underperformed, but how many of the teams above them can you says they are better than? I think it will be a home win, because Sixways is a hard place to go, and because of the way they "threw" away a victory last week against Exeter.
Prediction; Worcester by about 7
(1st) Harlequins Vs Leicester (2nd)
Pfff... this is hard to call. I do feel that Quins have to play near 100% to win this game, whilst the Tigers could play at 80-90% and could still scrap a win. The key component of the game will be the breakdown and it needs to be reffed well and correctly by Waynes Barnes. If Leicester get away with the streetwise nature of their pack and slow the Quins ball down, then there should be only won winner, Leicester. If Quins get quick ball and use it well, they should cause Leicester's defence some difficulties. Quins need to replicate the Wembley performance and the Toulouse performance to win the game, but I feel they can, and they will just about sneak it. One key thing for Quins is discipline, they won't win by playing rugby from their own half.
Prediction; Quins by less than 7
(4th) Exeter Vs Northampton (5th)
This game has the potenial to be the game of the weekend, and with Saints knowing they have to win to have any chance of top 4, they are going to have to stop a Chiefs side full confidence that they can beat just about anyone. If you had told anyone Premiership rugby fan that Exter would be sat in 4th with two rounds to go, many of them would have laughed. But you can't deny them anything they have achieved. The spirit and determination in the way they scored two tries in two minutes at the death against Worcester to win the game was fenomenal. However, I have a gut feeling that Saints will win this one somehow. I think Mallinder will rally his troops for a fight to do the death, and we may just see that quality side which has disappeared over the last couple of weeks, but Exeter won't make it easy.
Prediction; Northampton by 5 or less