Saracens v London Wasps | Sunday 14 February | Allianz Park | 18:00
With the Six Nations on the go, rugby fans could be forgiven for shying away from the Aviva Premiership. However, there’s an extremely intoxicating fixture set to take place this Sunday in London.
The Premiership leaders, Saracens will welcome the unpredictable London Wasps in what’s sure to be a thrilling game of rugby.
To Win (80 Mins)
Saracens (-5.5) 9/10
Wasps (+5.5) 9/10
Ah Saries, how brilliant you’ve been this term. Mark McCall’s men continued their serge to home semi-final qualification with a hard-fought three-point victory over the hapless Sale Sharks. The win has seen the Wolf Pack move five points clear at the top of the log.
What a position Saries find themselves in at the midway point of the season; clear by five points at the top of the log and only one loss this term. There calculated, yet exciting, brand of rugby has reaped rich dividends and it would take a foolish man to bet against them retaining their Aviva Premiership crown.
They come into this game without a few of their stalwarts, with Maro Itoje, the Vunipola brothers, Rhys Priestland, George Cruze, Owen Farrell, and Jamie George all on Six Nations duty. While their absence does make Saracens a less threatening prospect to take on, their squad depth should see them through the Six Nations period.
The likes of Charlie Hodgson, Schalk Britz, Jim Hamilton, and Kelly Brown are all fantastic players who are more than capable of filling the void left by the big-name absentees. American winger Chris Wyles put in a great shift against Exeter last week and he’s likely to be Saries most potent attacking outlet this coming Sunday.
It’s turning into a season of what ifs for this talented Wasps squad. While they’ve been fantastic in Europe, their domestic form has left a lot to be desired. They’ve only managed to win six out of their 11 fixtures this term, and most of those victories have come against teams fighting relegation.
Last weekend saw them put in a shambles of a performance against a struggling Newcastle outfit, and had it not been for a virtueoso kicking display from Jimmy Gopperth - who slotted three penalties - then Wasps would have been handed one of the most embarrising defeats in the club’s history.
Despite their less than impressive showing last week, Wasps may fancy their chances in this one. While they will be without James Haskell, Joe Launchbury, and Matt Mulan, they will be able to call upon talented young centre Elliot Daly. The young gun has been involved in the England set up since the start of this year’s Six Nations but was released from the squad this week. Daly’s availability is a massive coup for Wasps, as they come up against a classy centre pairing this Sunday. He and pivot Jimmy Goperth will have huge roles to play if Wasps are to conjure up one of the meost unexpected victories of the 2016 European Rugby season.
Verdict: Wasps + (5.5) 9/10
I fancy Wasps on the plus here. They have a backline that exudes class and skill while their pack is capable of fronting up to the Saracens juggernaut.
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