Aviva Premiership: Round 1 Preview

Aviva Premiership Round 22 Preview

The 2018/19 English Premiership season will get underway on Friday the 31st of August. 

Rugby fans are in for an absolute feast of European oval-balled action this coming weekend with both the PRO14 and Aviva Premiership 2018/19 seasons getting underway.

The English top tier has always offered plenty of value for shrewd punters, and this year should be no exception especially considering there are a few minnow sides capable of doing some giant killing.

Bristol Bears v Bath Rugby
Friday 31 August
Ashton Gate

To Win (80 Mins)
Bristol 21/10
Draw 19/1
Bath 4/10


Newly promoted Bristol and a Bath side that will be looking to kick on will have the honour of opening up the 2018/19 season.

The hosts have probably been the most active in the transfer market of all the Premiership teams, with the Bears bringing in some very handy players including the dynamic duo of Charles Pitau and George Smith from Ulster and the Reds, respectively. The former has been ruled out through injury but Bristol will stille be able to name a strong side for the clash.

Bath have also been rather active in the transfer market as they look to improve on last season's sixth-place finish. The club has recruited smartly with their best signings being veteran Welsh centre Johnathon Davis and Golden Lions prop Jacques van Rooyen.


Verdict: Bristol 21/10
I quite fancy an upset here. Bristol have a very talented side, who I think could actually challenge for a semi-final berth this season.

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Gloucester Rugby v Northampton Saints
Saturday 1 September
Kingsholm Stadium

08:45

To Win (80 Mins)
Gloucester 3/10
Draw 20/1
Northampton 5/2


Johan Ackermann's Gloucester will be looking for a fast start to their 2018/19 campaign when they take on a Northampton side in a transitional phase.

The hosts for this Saturday's encounter enjoyed a solid if not spectacular season last term as they finished seventh in the Premiership and advanced to their second consecutive European Rugby Challenge Cup final.

Gloucester is fast becoming little South Africa with Ackermann bringing in a raft of Golden Lions players during the off-season. The former Lions mentor has managed to secure the services of  Jaco Kriel, Franco Mostert, and Ruan Dreyer.

Northampton have also made a few decent signings bringing in Waratahs backs Taqele Naiyaravoro,  Andrew Kellaway as well as former All Black prop, Ben Franks. The aforementioned trio will need o hit the ground running if Northampton are to improve on their 2017/18 finish of ninth.

Verdict: Gloucester 3/10
I can see the Cherry and Whites getting their 2018/19 campaign off to a winning start against the Saints.

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Harlequins Rugby v Sale Sharks
Saturday 1 September
The Stoop
15:00


To Win (80 Mins)
Harlequins 6/10

Draw 18/1
Sale 29/20

Our next fixture sees Harlequins take on Sale at the Stoop in London. The hosts gave a horrid account of themselves last season finishing the season in tenth. Newcastle, on the other hand, had a great time of it advancing to both the Premiership and European Rugby Champions Cup semi-finals.

Both sides have done some intelligent business during the transfer window with Newcastle bringing in impressive Portuguese back, Pedro Bettencourt and Fijian, Nemani Nagusa, while the Harlequins have signed Aussie, Ben Tapuai, and former Saracens man, Nathan Earle.

Verdict: Harlequins 6/10
I'm expecting the 'Quins to improve massively on their 2017/18 season. They have a very talented squad who I will be backing to click this coming Saturday.
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Worcester Warriors v London WaspsSaturday 1 September
Sixways Stadium
16:00

To Win (80 Mins)
Worcester 26/10
Draw 23/1

Wasps 3/10

The next Saturday fixture is a true 'David versus Goliath' affair with relegation candidates Worcester taking on champion hopefuls Wasps. The hosts for this encounter finished 11th last season while Wasps ended their regular season campaign in third and then went down 57-33 to eventual champions Saracens at the semi-final stage.

Wasps have done some smart business during the off-season bringing in New Zealanders Brad Shields and Lima Sopoaga. Both are quality players who will add an extra dynamic to an already strong side.

Verdict: Wasps 3/10
Worcester presents an ideal opportunity for Wasps to open their campaign with a bonus point win. And I think they will do exactly that this coming Saturday. 

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Exeter Chiefs v Leicester TigersSaturday 1 September
Sandy Park
17:30


To Win (80 Mins)
Exeter 2/9

Draw 23/1
Leicester 34/10


Last season's runners-up and 2016/17 Champion Exeter will get their campaign underway with a clash against the Leicester Tigers. The visitors endured a decent enough campaign, being pipped to the semi-finals berth on points differential.

Both teams have been active on the transfer market during the off-season with Exeter acquiring the services of internationals Alex Cuthbert and Santiago Cordero, while Leicester have acquired David Denton and Kyle Eastmond.

Verdict: Exeter 2/9
The hosts shouldn't have that much trouble overcoming a Leicester side that has been far from prolific away from home over the past few years.


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Newcastle Falcons v Saracens
Sunday 1 September
Kingston Park
16:00

To Win (80 Mins)
Newcastle 49/20
Draw 20/1
Saracens 7/20


We close out the round with a clash between reigning champions Saracens and semi-finalist Newcastle. The hosts enjoyed a stellar 2017/18 campaign winning 14 of their 22 matches. While Newcastle's efforts are commendable, Saracens were a class above last season as they won 16 of their round-robin matches on their way to claiming yet another Premiership title.

The visitors have lost a host of players during the off-season with Chris Wyles and Schalk Britz hanging up their boots. They have replaced Wyles with former English international David Stretle being brought in from Clermont.

Verdict: Newcastle 49/20
I think the Falcons may well spring a surprise this Sunday. They're a quality outfit who will prey on any of 'Saries' weaknesses.


Written by Darry Worthington for @Hollywoodbets.net


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