The Rugby Tipster keeps you up-to-date with the latest on each round of matches in the Gallagher Premiership. Our in-depth knowledge of form and team selection can guide your rugby betting selections and get you the best rugby odds.
Friday February 26th
PREDICTION – SHARKS BY 4
After scrappy wins at Worcester and Newcastle were followed by last weekend’s shock home defeat to Northampton, questions are starting to be asked of Exeter’s credentials to defend the Premiership title they won in October.
International call-ups have hit them harder than they’d have liked, but they could have been a lot worse had try-machine Sam Simmonds’ outstanding club form got due recognition from Eddie Jones.
One thing the Chiefs never lack for is physicality but Sale Sharks have that in spades, too, and if ever the Sharks had an opportunity to make a statement result, this is it.
Having Faf de Klerk back in the starting line-up, along with fellow World Cup-winning Springbok Lood de Jager, improves their chances immeasurably. And AJ MacGinty’s selection at fly-half is another source of reassurance that Pat Sanderson’s charges can deliver on their potential at long last.
Positioned second in the standings, just three points adrift of leaders Bristol Bears, Exeter are still some way short of a crisis, but they may come up short again against a well-drilled side that is used to absorbing pressure and playing for long periods without the ball.
Team news for the Chiefs sees Baxter make two changes to his pack from last weekend. In the second-row, Sean Lonsdale comes in for his first start of the season in place of Will Witty, while South African Jacques Vermeulen is also included for the first time this season, having recovered from shoulder surgery. He replaces Richard Capstick at open-side.
Behind them, Joe Simmonds returns at fly-half, while a switch around in the back three sees Facundo Cordero return on the wing with Josh Hodge switching to full-back as Stuart Hogg is on international duty with Scotland.
Sharks have been attracting the money this week and the handicap is down to just a single point in their favour. We agree it has all the makings of a 50:50 encounter but home advantage and the Chiefs’ recent dip in form just swings it the Sharks’ way.
Recommended bet: Sharks to win 11/10 (Paddy Power)
15. Luke James, 14. Byron McGuigan, 13. Sam James, 12. Sam Hill, 11. Marland Yarde, 10. AJ MacGinty, 9. Faf de Klerk; 1. Bevan Rodd, 2. Curtis Langdon, 3. Will-Griff John, 4. Josh Beaumont, 5. Lood de Jager, 6. Jono Ross (Capt.), 7. Cameron Neild, 8. Daniel du Preez.
Replacements: 16. Ewan Ashman, 17. Ross Harrison, 18. Coenie Oosthuizen, 19. Cobus Wiese, 20. Sam Dugdale, 21. Raffi Quirke, 22. Robert du Preez, 23. Simon Hammersley.
Exeter Chiefs: 15 Josh Hodge, 14 Facundo Cordero, 13 Ian Whitten, 12 Ollie Devoto, 11 Tom O’Flaherty, 10 Joe Simmonds, 9 Jack Maunder, 1 Alec Hepburn, 2 Jack Yeandle (capt), 3 Harry Williams, 4 Sean Lonsdale, 5 Sam Skinner, 6 Dave Ewers, 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 8 Sam Simmonds.
Replacements: 16 Jack Innard, 17 Ben Moon, 18 Marcus Street, 19 Don Armand, 20 Richard Capstick, 21 Stu Townsend, 22 Harvey Skinner, 23 Tom Hendrickson.
Saturday February 27th
PREDICTION – BEARS by 16
It’s only a couple of months off two years since Leicester last won an away game in the league and it is hard to see that unwanted run coming to an end against the Premiership leaders.
Bristol will be kicking themselves after letting a big lead slip and only drawing 34-34 at London Irish last weekend but they still came away with three points in a match from the gods.
The Bears had gone quiet by their standards in attack in the previous two rounds but in Brentford they were back to their best with ball in hand and the Tigers will do well to contain them.
Facing Bristol away would have been a hard enough ask with Hanro Liebenberg and Jasper Wiese but the indomitable South African duo are unavailable through suspension after being red-carded in the win over Wasps in Round 10, which brings about a new-look back-row combination of Ollie Chessum, Tommy Reffell and Harry Wells.
Recommended bets: We expect Bristol to go big against a patched-up Tigers side and beat the -11 h’cap (10/11) in a game of over 46.5 points (5/6).
Bristol: 15. Charles Piutau; 14. Luke Morahan, 13. Piers O’Conor, 12. Alapati Leiua, 11. Siva Naulago; 10. Ioan Lloyd, 9. Andy Uren; 1. Jake Woolmore, 2. Will Capon, 3. John Afoa, 4. Chris Vui, 5. Joe Joyce, 6. Steven Luatua (c), 7. Dan Thomas, 8. Jake Heenan.
Replacements: 16. George Kloska, 17. Yann Thomas, 28. Jake Armstrong, 19. Ed Holmes, 20. Fitz Harding, 21. Tom Kessell, 22. Tiff Eden, 23. Niyi Adeolokun.
Leicester: 15. Kini Murimurivalu, 14. Kobus Van Wyk, 13. Matías Moroni, 12. Dan Kelly, 11. Guy Porter, 10. Joaquín Díaz Bonilla, 9. Jack Van Poortvliet, 1. Nephi Leatigaga, 2. Tom Youngs (c), 3. Joe Heyes, 4. Cameron Henderson, 5. Tomás Lavanini, 6. Harry Wells, 7. Tommy Reffell, 8. Ollie Chessum.
Replacements: 16 Charlie Clare, 17. James Whitcombe, 18. Dan Cole, 19. Calum Green, 20. Luke Wallace, 21. Ben White, 22. Johnny McPhillips, 23. Harry Simmons.
Saturday February 27th
PREDICTION – QUINS BY 4
On the hunt for a club record-breaking eight consecutive away wins in the Premiership, Quins have opted to shake things up for the trip to the north-east.
One of the eight changes is enforced, however, as in-form openside Will Evans misses out through injury. Jack Kenningham makes his debut in his place.
Depsite the changes, other key players in the recent run are still involved, and the Londoners rightly start as slight favourites against a side that has been out of action since 7 February. The Falcons’ last two fixtures were declared defeats because of Covid and a bright start to the season is threatening to ebb away.
Recommended bet: Quins have momentum, Newcastle do not. Quins to win by 1-10 points (21/10, Paddy Power) is worth some modest interest.
Newcastle: 15. Tom Penny, 14. Adam Radwan, 13. Matias Orlando, 12. Luther Burrell, 11. Ben Stevenson, 10. Joel Hodgson, 9. Louis Schreuder, 1. Trevor Davison, 2. George McGuigan, 3. Logovi’i Mulipola, 4. Greg Peterson, 5. Marco Fuser, 6 Sean Robinson (c), 7. Philip van der Walt, 8. Callum Chick.
Replacements: 16, Jamie Blamire, 17, Adam Brocklebank, 18, Mark Tampin, 19. Darren Barry, 20 John Hardie, 21. Sam Stuart, 22. Brett Connon, 23. Mateo Carreras.
Harlequins: 15. Aaron Morris, 4. Joe Marchant, 13. Luke Northmore, 12. Andre Esterhuizen, 11. 11. Tyrone Green, 10. Marcus Smith, 9. Martin Landajo, 1. Joe Marler, 2. Elia Elia, 3. Wilco Louw, 4. Matt Symons, 5. Hugh Tizard, 6. Stephan Lewies (c), 7. Jack Kenningham, 8. James Chisholm.
Replacements: 16. Scott Baldwin, 17. Jordan Els, 18. Simon Kerrod, 19. Glen Young, 20. Alex Dombrandt, 21. Danny Care, 22. Brett Herron, 23. Louis Lynagh.
Saturday February 27th
PREDICTION -IRISH BY 5
Wasps have failed to score more than 17 points per match in losing three of their last four games, while London Irish have put 30 points on the opposition in all but one of those games during the Six Nations window. One team is misfiring, the other is starting to rev things up.
Leicester made Wasps’ defence look distinctly powderpuff at Welford Road last weekend and Irish have enough big ball carriers – people like Steve Mafi and Sean O’Brien – to put the fear of God into them again.
Jacob Umaga can expect plenty of heavy traffic to be sent his way on his return to the number 10 jersey. And with Irish’s forwards punching holes in the home side’s defence, that should open up opportunities for dangerous runners like Tom Parton, a 5/1 chance to be an anytime try-scorer.
Recommended bet: Irish look good value for the win at 15/8 (Bet 365).
Wasps: 15. Matteo Minozzi, 14. Zach Kibirige, 13. Juan de Jongh, 12. Michael Le Bourgeois, 11. Josh Bassett, 10. Jacob Umaga, 9. Will Porter, 1. Tom West, 2. Tom Cruse, 3. Jeff Toomaga-Allen, 4. Will Rowlands, 5. James Gaskell, 6. Brad Shields (c), 7. Gabriel Oghre, 8 Tom Willis.
Replacements: 16. Tommy Taylor, 17. Ben Harris, 18. Nicky Thomas, 19. Levi Douglas, 20. Sione Vailanu, 21. Ben Vellacott, 22. Charlie Atkinson, 23. Jimmy Gopperth.
London Irish: 15. Tom Parton, 14. Ben Loader, 13. Curtis Rona, 12. Theo Brophy Clews, 11. Ollie Hassell-Collins, 10. Paddy Jackson, 9. Nick Phipps, 1. Allan Dell, 2. Agustin Creevy, 3. Ollie Hoskins, 4. Steve Mafi, 5. George Nott, 6. Sean O’Brien, 7. Ben Donnell, 8. Matt Rogerson (c)
Replacements: 16. Matt Cornish, 17. Will Goodrick-Clarke, 18. Lovejoy Chawatama, 19. Rob Simmons, 20. Blair Cowan, 21. Ben Meehan, 22. Terrence Hepetema, 23. Will Joseph
Saturday February 27th
PREDICTION – GLOS BY 5
By the law of averages, Gloucester have to start turning narrow defeats into wins soon.
The Cherry & Whites have lost their last four games – against Northampton, London Irish, Bristol and Bath – by an accumulative margin of 14 points.
This ‘M5 derby’ has the makings of another tight contest but one we expect the home team to finally come out on the right side.
Gloucester have lost only two of their last eight meetings with the Warriors in Premiership Rugby, both at Sixways in 2018 and 2019, while Worcester have won only once at Kingsholm in 19 previous visits in all competitions. The last time was in April 2009.
Chris Ashton will make his debut for Worcester, his fifth Premiership club.
Recommended bet: Gloucester to put past disappointments behind them and win this bottom-of-the-table clash by 1-10 points (2/1, Paddy Power)
Gloucester: 15. Kyle Moyle, 14. Santiago Carreras, 13. Henry Trinder, 12. Tom Seabrook, 11. Ollie Thorley, 10. Billy Twelvetrees, 9. Willi Heinz, 1. Alex Seville, 2. Jack Singleton, 3. Fraser Balmain, 4. Ed Slater, 5. Matias Alemanno, 6. Jordy Reid, 7. Lewis Ludlow (c), 8. Ruan Ackermann.
Replacements: 16. Santiago Socino, 17. Jamal Ford-Robinson, 18. Jack Stanley, 19. Alex Craig, 20. Jack Clement, 21. Charlie Chapman, 22. George Barton, 23. Giorgi Kveseladze.
Worcester: 15. Chris Pennell, 14. Chris Ashton, 13. Oli Morris, 12. Francois Venter, 11. Nick David, 10. Jamie Shillcock, 9. Francois Hougaard; 1. Ethan Waller, 2. Niall Annett, 3. Nick Schonert, 4. Andrew Kitchener, 5. Justin Clegg, 6. Ted Hill (c), 7. Matt Kvesic, 8. GJ van Velze.
Replacements: 16. Isaac Miller, 17. Marc Thomas, 18. Richard Palframan, 19. George Merrick, 20. Joe Batley, 21. Michael Heaney, 22. Fin Smith, 23. Ashley Beck.
Sunday February 28th
PREDICTION – TBC