Aviva Premiership: Round 3 Preview

The third round of the 2017/18 Aviva Premiership gets underway with a Friday evening tripleheader.

There was a turn up for the books last week with Bath getting a win over tournament favourites, Saracens. The men in 'Blue and White' put in a solid shift and exposed a few chinks in Saracens' much-vaunted armour. The 10-point victory would not have only offered encouragement to Bath but also to the rest of the title contenders who still have to take on 'Saries.

Speaking of the title contenders, dark horses Gloucester will face a tricky away test against the Leicester Tigers this week while fellow title hopefuls Northampton and Bath square at  Franklin's Gardens in the pick of the Round Three action.

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Northampton Saints v Bath Rugby | Friday 15 September | Franklin's Gardens | 20:35

To Win (80 Mins)
Northampton 8/10 | Draw 18/1 | Bath 21/20

Northampton's Round 2 victory over the Leicester Tigers came at a cost with new boy Demitri Catrakillis fracturing a bone in his throat. The injury to the former Western Province pivot was rather sickening with medical staff having to put the strewn Catrakillis on an oxygen tank. The pivot is likely to miss a substantial amount of the season, but thankfully Northampton have an able deputy in the form of utility back Harry Mallinder.

Bath didn't encounter near as much drama during their 31-21 victory over Saracens last week. Todd Blackadder's men were in almighty form and managed to dominate all facets of last week's game. They look a revived outfit and will definitely be among the shake-up come next May's semi-finals.

Verdict: Bath 21/20
I quite fancy Bath to maintain their unbeaten streak here. They proved that they can get dominance at the setpiece against the best in the business last week, and I think they'll be able to build a similar platform here.

Worcester Warriors v Exeter Chiefs | Friday 15 September |  Sixways | 20:45

To Win (80 Mins)
Worcester 34/10 | Draw 21/1 | Exeter 2/9

The Worcester Warriors will be looking to build on last week's heartening display against Wasps when they take on defending champions Exeter this Friday evening. The hosts bounced back from their 35-8 humbling at Newcastle with a much more composed performance against Wasps. And while they did lose last week's fixture by 14 points, coach Gary Gold will have been pleased with the improved defensive display.

Exeter managed to bounce back from their opening day defeat to Gloucester by hammering London Irish 37-7. The game against Irish was played in atrocious conditions with the rain teeming down in Devonshire last weekend. The fact that the Chiefs still scored 37 points in such poor conditions illustrates just how dominant their forward pack can be,

Verdict: Exeter 2/9
I think we'll see another heart on sleeves performance from Worcester but this won't be enough to see them past the defending champions.

Sale Sharks v London Irish | Friday 15 September | AJ Bell Stadium | 21:00

To Win (80 Mins)
Sale 1/4 | Draw 23/1 | Irish 31/10

The Sale Sharks and London Irish are set to bring the curtain down on Friday night's programme. The hosts come into this one off the back of a one-point home defeat to Newcastle while the visitors make the trip having been brought back down to earth by a rampant Exeter side.

Verdict: Sale 1/4
If this was being played at Irish's home ground I'd be all over them for the win. It's not, however, and I think the hosts will just edge it. If you get offered a plus 9.5 or higher line on the game, I suggest having a solid strike on it.

Leicester Tigers v Gloucester Rugby |  Saturday 16 September | Welford Road | 16:00

To Win (80 Mins)
Leicester 2/11 | Draw 24/1 | Gloucester 39/10

Leicester will be looking to end their two-game losing streak when they take on a Gloucester side that has won one and lost one, in Saturday's opening fixture. The hosts come into this one off the back of a 13-point defeat to Northampton while the visitors make the trip having gone down by 11-points to Harlequins.

Verdict: Gloucester 39/10
I think there's some great value in the away win here. The 'Cherrie and Whites' were not as bad as last week's scoreline suggests, and I think they may just nick a win here. A small strike on the away win at 39/10 could net a substantial return.

Newcastle Falcons v Saracens | Saturday 16 September | Talen Energy Stadium | 18:00

To Win (80 Mins)
Newcastle 13/2 | Draw 30/1 | Saracens 1/12

Saracens will be looking to bounce back from their defeat to Bath when they travel north to take on the Falcons. The hosts come into this one off the back of a stoic one-point victory away to Sale, and they'll certainly give 'Saries a run for their money here.

Verdict: Saracens 1/12
I can see the Falcons giving 'Saries a run for their money up until the final quarter of the game, and then the wheels are likely to come off for the hosts. While the Saracens win is a banker of note, any plus handicap in the region of 18 points should be backed.

London Wasps v Harlequins | Sunday 17 September | Ricoh Arena | 16:00

To Win (80 Mins)
Wasps 1/7 | Draw 30/1 | Harlequins 9/2

Wasps play host to 'Quins in the final Round 3 fixture. The hosts were far from impressive against Worcester last week but still managed to bag a comfortable 14-point win. 'Quins also come into this one off the back of a victory as they saw off Johan Ackermann's Gloucester by 11-points.

Verdict: Wasps 1/7
Last year's beaten finalists are yet to really hit their straps but they've still managed to win their opening two games by comfortable margins. I'm expecting another cushy win for Wasps this week.

Written by Darry Worthington for @Hollywoodbets.net

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