Hollywoodbets Sports Blog: Gallagher Premiership: Round 14 Preview

Gallagher Premiership: Round 14 Preview

Darry Worthington previews Round 14 of the 2019/20 Gallagher Premiership season which will run between Friday the 14th of August and Sunday the 16th.

Image copyright - Steve Haag Sports
Two women looking excitedly at cellphone

After four long months, the Gallagher Premiership will finally make its return this coming Friday. The competition is rather nicely poised at the top end of the table with Exeter, the Sale Sharks, the Bristol Bears and the Northampton Saints currently in the top four. There are only ten points separating table-toppers Exeter and fourth-placed Northampton which means there's still plenty to play for at the top with eight weeks of round-robin action still to play.

Just below the top four sit Wasps, Bath, Harlequins, London Irish and Harlequins, while Gloucester are also still in with an outside chance of challenging for fourth place.

We could well see some movement on the table this weekend as a few teams who are rivalling each other for semi-final berths will lock horns.

Harlequins v Sale Sharks
Friday 14 August
Twickenham Stoop

To Win (80 Mins)
Harlequins 37/20 
Draw 20/1
Sale 9/20

Harlequins (+4.5) 17/20
Sharks (-4.5) 17/20 

First up we've got Friday night rugby with the high-flying Sale Sharks taking on Harlequins in London. The visitors were in terrific nick before the break winning eight of their 13 fixtures before the season was put on hold. They have a very handy and settled backline which will be buoyed by blockbuster centre Manu Tuiliangi he moved to the club from the Leicester Tigers during the break. 

Harlequins fared less well during the early salvos of the campaigns as they only managed five wins and a draw from their first 13 games. The Quins also did some shrewd off-season business as they captured their own bulldozing centre in Springbok Andries Esterhuizen. Unfortunately for the hosts, Esterhuizen along with fellow South African Wilco Louw, have been struggling to get their visa issues and neither will be available for Friday night's encounter.

Verdict: Sale (-4.5) 17/20
Sale look primed to launch a big assault on the Premiership title and I can see them firing a massive warning shot to the rest of the league this Friday evening.

Worcester Warriors v Gloucester
Saturday 15 August
Sixways Stadium 

To Win (80 Mins)
Warriors 29/20
Draw 20/1
Gloucester 6/10

Warriors (+3.5) 17/20
Gloucester (-3.5) 17/20

Saturday's action gets underway with a clash between the Worcester Warriors and Gloucester. The visitors have endured a COVID-19 break with former coach Johann Ackermann essentially being forced out of the club. One has to wonder if all is right at Gloucester as it seems certain veteran players and the owners are calling the shots rather than the coaching staff.

Worcester were having a tough time of it prior to the break and would are probably a bit relieved that they've had time to regroup as they only managed to win four of their 13 games. The shackles will be somewhat off for Rory Duncan's men as they know they cannot be relegated this season and all they have to play for is a European Rugby Challenge Cup berth.

Verdict: Warriors 29/20
The dumbest this Gloucester could have done was sack Ackermann. I feel they are going considering there are still a number of players at the club who were very close to the former mentor. As such, I reckon an upset is on the cards in Saturday's opener.

Jockeys Ride Horses
Exeter Chiefs v Leicester Tigers
Saturday 15 August
Sandy Park

To Win (80 Mins)
Exeter 1/16
Draw 30/1
Leicester 7/1

Exeter (-16.5) 17/20
Leicester (+16.5) 17/20

Next up we've got tournament favourites Exter taking on the 11th-placed Leicester Tigers.

2020 has been far from kind to the Tigers who managed just four wins and a draw from their 13 fixtures. Richard Cockerill has come in as head coach and the former England international has an unenviable task on his hands in turning around the Tigers fortunes. To compound matters, the Tigers have lost talismanic centre Manu Tuilangi to the Sale Sharks.

While Leicester has lost their main man, they have also done some smart working in replacing him bringing in backs Kini Murimurivalu and Cobus van Wyk. The latter won't be available for the clash, however, as he has just finished playing in Super Rugby Aotearoa. 

The Chiefs have had a pretty subdued break compared to the other sides in the 'comp and look primed to continue where they left off when the season restarts. Prior to the break, the club from Devonshire had won nine of their 13 fixtures.

Verdict: Leicester (+16.5) 17/20
While the hosts should have no problems winning this one, I do think this handicap is a bit too high.

Bath Rugby v London Irish
Saturday 15 August
The Recreation Ground

To Win (80 Mins)
Bath 2/9
Draw 22/1
Irish 32/10

Bath (-9.5) 17/20
Irish (+9.5) 17/20

Saturday's penultimate game sees sixth-placed Bath take on eighth-placed London Irish. The hosts have had a solid if not spectacular year having won seven of their 13 fixtures. They are well in the hunt for a semi-final berth and will be keen to push on during the second half of the campaign. 

London Irish have somewhat exceeded expectations this term with the club, who were only promoted last year, set for both another European Challenge Cup berth as well as a crack at Premiership semi-final which could lead to them eating at Europe's top table - the European Rugby Champions Cup - as opposed to the Challenge Cup.

Verdict: London Irish (+9.5) 17/20
When these two sides met earlier in the year Bath ran out 10-38 victors at Ashton Gate. I'm expecting a closer scoreline here, however, as there's a lot of rain being forecast for Saturday.

Bristol Bears v Saracens
Saturday 15 August
Ashton Gate

To Win (80 Mins)
Bristol 4/10
Draw 22/1
Saracens 39/20

The high-flying Bristol Bears and reigning champions Saracens will bring the curtain down on Saturday's action. These two sides have suffered vastly converse seasons with the visitors being deducted a mammoth amount of points which saw them demoted to the foot of the log and their relegation to the Championship confirmed even before the third round of the Premiership. 

Bristol, on the other hand, have gone from strength to strength and are primed to claim a Gallagher Premiership semi-final berth just two years after they were promoted back to the English top tier.

Verdict: Saracens 39/20
Saracens may be relegated but they've still got a star-studded squad who'll be keen to remind Premiership fans what they'll be missing next year. 

Northampton Saints v Wasps
Sunday 16 August
Franklin's Garden

To Win (80 Mins)
Northampton 4/10
Draw 20/1
Wasps 43/20

Northampton (-6.5) 17/20
Wasps (+6.5) 17/20

Round 14 will come to a closeout at Franklin's Gardens where fourth-placed Northampton tackle fifth-placed Wasps. A win for Wasps would see them leapfrog the Saints into fourth-place while a win for Northampton would further the two-point gap between the sides. 

Both teams have enjoyed decent campaigns thus far with Northampton winning seven of their 13 fixtures and Wasps winning six of theirs.

In terms of recent results between the duo, Northampton have won three of the last five meetings with Wasps winning the other two. When the two sides met earlier this year, Northampton ran out 31-35 victors at the Ricoh Arena. 

Verdict: Wasps (+6.5) 17/20
I reckon this one will be a close old affair. Both teams have some talented players in their ranks so we could also see a good few tries scored here. 

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