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Gallagher Premiership

PREVIEW: 23/24 Gallagher Premiership – Round 17

The playoff scramble has never been more frantic with defeat likely spelling the end for a number of clubs on this penultimate weekend of Gallagher Premiership round robin action.

Rotimi Segun of Saracens

The playoff scramble has never been more frantic with defeat likely spelling the end for a number of clubs on this penultimate weekend of Gallagher Premiership round robin action.

Two women looking excitedly at cellphone

Friday 10 May

Sale 29/100 | Draw 23/1 | Leicester 28/10 (20:45)

Sale (-8.5) 17/20 | Leicester (+8.5) 17/20

Sale are sixth, just two points off the top four following three consecutive Premiership victories. Paul Deacon’s side endured a difficult time of it mid-season but appear to have turned a corner just in time for a late semi-final charge. Form suggests they have it takes to down a club sitting two places and seven points back of them here, but this Tigers outfit are capable of producing anything on their day.

Dan McKellar’s boys have mixed magic with mediocrity this season, pulling off big results at times but also falling to several disappointing defeats. While it’s tough to know exactly what to expect from them on Friday, the hosts should feel the more motivated with the playoffs still in reach which could give them the edge.

Verdict: Leicester (+8.5) 17/20

I expect Sale to win this, but I don’t think they’ll clear the 8.5-point handicap.

Newcastle 17/2 | Draw 40/1 | Bath 1/25 (20:45)

Handicap
Newcastle (+21.5) 9/10 | Bath (21.5) 8/10

Falcons’ winless run continued against Sale Sharks at Kingston Park last time out, with Steve Diamond’s men stranded on five points; 22 off next-best Gloucester. With third-placed Bath out to make amends for their home loss to Saracens in round 16, things could get ugly for the hosts.

Verdict: Bath (-21.5) 8/10

The Falcons have been hopelessly out of their depth this season. Back Bath to canter to a big win up North. 

Saturday 11 May

Northampton 1/20 | Draw 33/1 | Gloucester 17/2 (16:05)

Handicap
Northampton (-18.5) 17/20 | Gloucester (+18.5) 17/20 

Despite consecutive losses to Harlequins at The Stoop and Leinster in the Champions Cup semi-finals over the last fortnight, Saints remain top of the Prem standings and can take a step closer to cementing that position with a win over the Cherry and Whites on Saturday.

Ninth-placed Gloucester may have been far off the pace domestically this season, but silverware and potential Champions Cup qualification awaits them in their upcoming Challenge Cup final against the Hollywoodbets Sharks. With that game in mind, there’s a good chance George Skivington will field a second-string side this weekend which will give Saints the upper hand.

Verdict: Northampton (18.5) 17/20

Northampton should record a big win at Franklin’s Gardens on Saturday afternoon.

Bristol 29/20 | Draw 21/1 | Saracens 59/100 (16:05)

Handicap
Bristol (+4.5) 8/10 | Saracens (-4.5) 9/10

The clash of the round sees high-flying Bristol welcome Saracens to Ashton Gate. Pat Lam’s charges have decimated opposition on their way to clawing themselves back from oblivion to sit fourth, within touching distance of a semi-final. Just two points off their second-placed foes here, but with Quins level on points in fifth, much rides on the outcome of this one.

As good as Bristol have been, Saracens’ experience in these scenarios makes them a formidable opponent. It certainly won’t come easy for Mark McCall’s men, but they have the ability to grind out an all-important win here to all but ensure their playoff dreams become a reality.

Verdict: Saracens 59/100

I’m leaning toward Saracens to edge the Bears here. Good value at a shade under 6/10.

Exeter 78/100 | Draw 25/1 | Harlequins 21/20 (18:30)

Exeter have fallen off the pace of late and sit seventh, juts four points off the semi-final places but with much standing in their way. At this stage it looks as though only two bonus point wins in these final weeks will get them where they want to go – a big ask considering the quality at ‘Quins.

The visitors are fifth, level on 49 points with fourth-placed Bears and, like so many other teams, within a whisker of the semis. A win here for them is non-negotiable, and though they have blown hot and cold this season, their heroics in their Champions Cup semi-final defeat to Toulouse should spur them on to something special here.

Verdict: Harlequins 21/20

Money on Harlequins to grab the win at Sandy Park. Probably the value bet of the weekend’s fixtures. 

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