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Gallagher Premiership

PREVIEW: Gallagher Premiership returns with massive opening weekend

There are tantalising fixtures wherever you look across the Gallagher Premiership this weekend, starting off with Bristol hosting newly-promoted Saracens at Ashton Gate.

Chris Vui of Bristol - Gallagher Premiership
Image Copyright - Steve Haag Sports

The opening weekend of the 21/22 Gallagher Premiership season is littered with delicious looking fixutres, kicking off on Friday evening with a clash between Bristol and Saracens at Ashton Gate.

Two women looking excitedly at cellphone

Friday 17 September

Bristol Bears v Saracens
Ashton Gate

To Win Match

Bristol 52/100
Draw 22/1
Saracens 17/10

Bristol will be looking to get one over fellow title-chasers Saracens early when they clash at Ashton Gate on Friday.

The Bears had a remarkable regular season in 2020-21, topping the overall standings before their shock extra-time loss in that classic semi-final against Harlequins. Hard lessons would have been learned by Pat Lam’s bunch, and they’ll want to come back stronger here.

Newly promoted Saracens are back in the big time after a season in the Championship. They’ll feel they have plenty to prove and will see this round one clash as a perfect opportunity to send a powerful message to the rest of the Premiership.

Verdict: Saracens 17/10

It’s been a while since they’ve faced such quality opponents but back Sarries to earn an upset win in the first round.

Saturday 18 September

Worcester Warriors v London Irish
Sixways Stadium

To Win (80 mins)

Worcester 17/20
Draw 20/1
Irish 1/1

The Warriors will look to improve on their dire results from last season when they host London Irish at the Sixways on Saturday.

Despite finishing rock bottom in their last campaign, Worcester escaped relegation thanks to a Premiership rule change. Following a mass exodus of 19 players, including Francois Hougaard, they’ll hope newly signed Scottish duo Duhan van der Merwe and Rory Sutherland can help usher in a new era at the Sixways.

Irish enjoyed a solid if unspectacular run last season, finishing ninth overall. They can bag a first Premiership win since March if they can get the job done here.

Verdict: Irish 1/1

The Exiles could outmuscle the hosts this weekend and look a good shout at even money.

Northampton Saints v Gloucester
Franklin’s Gardens

To Win (80 mins)

Saints 9/20
Draw 20/1
Gloucester 39/20

Northampton and Gloucester clash at Franklin’s Gardens on Saturday with both outfits having plenty to prove.

In spite of their fifth-place finish, Saints missed out on a playoff berth by a substantial 14-points last season. Director of rugby Chris Boyd will have plenty to do during this campaign to reduce that gulf and it should start with a win here.

Gloucester endured one of their most disappointing seasons in recent memory last time out, finishing 11th after picking up just seven wins. They’ll look for a comeback of sorts, but they may not have enough to match Northampton here.

Verdict: Saints 9/20

Saints should grab an early home win here- probably one of your weekend rugby bankers.

Leicester Tigers v Exeter Chiefs
Welford Road

To Win (80 mins)

Leicester 11/10
Draw 20/1
Exeter 77/100

Leicester have a tough first assignment when they host the Chiefs at Welford Road on Saturday.

The Tigers are beginning to claw back some respect in the Premiership after years of underachieving. Last season’s sixth-placed finish, coupled with a Challenge Cup runners-up medal proves they are a side on the up under Steve Borthwick.

Exeter meanwhile lost out on yet another final, bringing their record under Rob Baxter to played six, won two. That won’t be considered good enough in Devon and they have a chance to get off to a perfect start to the new season here.

Verdict: Leicester 11/10

The Tigers are hungry for success. Back them to claim a morale-boosting win at home.

Sale Sharks v Bath Rugby
AJ Bell Stadium

To Win (80 mins)

Sale 27/100
Draw 22/1
Bath 29/10

Alex Sanderson begins his first full season in charge of Sale when they host Bath at the AJ Bell on Saturday.

Last season Sharks saw director of rugby Steve Diamond resign several months in which may have hindered the side’s momentum. They still managed to qualify for the semi-finals but were beaten by Exeter. With Sanderson’s input from the get-go, the most physical team in the Prem will be keen to get off to a good start here.

Bath had another by the numbers season last time out, finishing seventh without really threatening the playoff places. Stuart Hooper will hope his third campaign as director of rugby shows a little more promise.

Verdict: Bath 29/10

Bath could catch Sale napping. 29/10 is too good to ignore.

Sunday 19 September

Newcastle Falcons v Harlequins
Kingston Park

To Win (80 mins)

Newcastle 19/10
Draw 22/1
Quins 46/100

Newcastle face defending champions Harlequins at Kingston Park on Sunday.

After a promising start to last season, the newly promoted Falcons ended up finishing 10th. Not bad, not great. They’ll search for improvement this campaign but will be up against it from the start here.

Much has been made of Quins’ phenomenal Premiership title win last season and rightly so. The style of play adopted at the Stoop has won them many fans and will definitely see them challenging once more. Theirs is a very confident team.

Verdict: Quins 46/100

Quins will be far too good for the Falcons.


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