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Aviva Premiership: Best of the Weekend Preview
Our rugby scribe takes a look at the pick of this weekend’s Aviva Premiership action.
The Aviva Premiership enters its second week this Friday with the Worcester Warriors and Gloucester opening up proceedings. There’s a potential classic with the Leicester Tigers and London Wasps squaring off on Saturday and we close out the round with a replay of last season’s final with the Exeter Chiefs taking on Schalk Burger's Saracens.
Worcester Warriors v Gloucester Rugby | Friday 9 September | Sixways Park | 20:40 (SAST)
To Win (80 Mins)
Worcester 5/4 | Draw 20/1 | Gloucester 13/20
The Warriors actually gave a decent account of themselves during the first-half of their season opener away to Saracens and were only three points down when the half-time whistle blew. Saracens are defending champions for a reason, however, and the men from North London fired a massive warning shot to the rest of the Aviva Premiership’s title contenders with a second-half blitz that saw them score 25 unanswered points in the second stanza.
While Worcester opened their campaign with a 32 point loss, Gloucester managed to garner a losing bonus point from their thrilling encounter with the Leicester Tigers. The Cherry and Whites went down by seven points in a see-saw encounter that saw a total of 69 points scored.
In terms of team news, Worcester skipper Gj Van Velze and prop Nick Schonert are both injury doubts while Gloucester have no fresh injury concerns.
Verdict: Gloucester 13/20
I fancy Gloucester to win this one. They looked decent on attack last Friday and Worcester will be much less of a threat than Leicester were with ball in hand. Get on Gloucester to clear the handicap at 9/10.
Leicester Tigers v London Wasps | Saturday 10 September | Welford Road Stadium | 16:00 (SAST)
To Win (80 Mins)
Leicester 15/20 | Draw 18/1 | Wasps 11/10
I’m really looking forward to this one. Both teams are committed to playing running rugby and there will be some decent players on show including a seemingly rejuvenated JP Pietersen.
Leicester come into this one off the back of a high-scoring a seven-point victory over Gloucester. The Tigers attacking prowess came to the fore last week running in five tries to Gloucester’s three. Both Manu Tuilagi and ex-Natal Sharks man, JP Pietersen, managed to dot down. While Tuilangi misses out, Pietersen will have a huge role to play.
Wasps also got their 2016/17 campaign off on the right foot with a five-point victory over last year’s finalists Exeter. It was far from vintage Wasps’ rugby with the forwards coming to the fore rather than the backs. The most pleasing aspect for Wasps head coach Dai Young would have been how seamlessly Danny Cipriani slotted into the side. The mercurial pivot was instrumental in setting up Dan Robison’s 52nd-minute try and controlled the game pretty well. The ‘bad boy’ of British rugby will have to be on his game this week if his side are to see off an extremely talented Tigers outfit.
Verdict: Leicester 15/20
Wasps haven’t won a Premiership game at Welford Road since 2008. I reckon that losing streak will be extended this coming weekend. Get on the Leicester straight win!
Exeter Chiefs v Saracens | Sunday 11 September | Sandy Park | 16:00 (SAST)
To Win (80 Mins)
Exeter 1/1 | Draw 20/1 | Saracens 17/20
We close out the weekend with a replay of last season’s final, but instead of the game being played in London, it will be played further down South in Exeter.
The Chiefs were unlucky to go down to Wasps last weekend. They gave a great account of themselves and went into the half-time break nine points to the good. The wheels came off in the second stanza, however, with the Chiefs unable to score a point while Wasps notched up 17 points to claim a five-point win.
Saracens got their title defence off to a slow start only managing to put six points during the first half. They were back to their best in the second stanza though running in four unanswered tries.
These two sides met twice in the Premiership last year with Saracens winning both fixtures. The North London club garnered a three-point win at Sandy Park and an 18 point victory at home.
Verdict: Saracens 17/20
It’s going to be a tight one but I fancy Saracens to edge it.