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 March 12th
PREDICTION – BEARS BY 12
Wasps’ decline in the last month or so has almost been as dramatic as their ascent when Lee Blackett replaced Dai Young as the man in charge in February last year.
The Coventry-based side have only won one of their last six Premiership matches, and that was a scrappy 17-13 win at struggling Worcester. Bristol, meanwhile, are riding high at the top of the table, six points clear of Exeter.
Blackett led Wasps to the Premiership final in 2020 and they were expected to back that up this year. However, international call-ups and injuries to key players like Alfie Barbeary, and now Jack Willis, have been keenly felt.
Wasps are unbeaten in their last 13 outings against Bristol (12 wins and a draw) but that remarkable record will surely come to an end at Ashton Gate on Friday night.
Bristol have the firepower to turn games their way in an instant and they’re also the most disciplined team in the league, giving away the fewest penalties on average per game.
Crucially, they are a team full of confidence whereas Wasps are not and Ashton Gate on a Friday night is not the place you want to go to when searching for a morale-boosting result.
Bristol at half-time and full-tine (4/6, Paddy Power) looks nailed on if this season’s stats are borne out. The West Country side have scored 23 tries in the first half to 15 in the second, while Wasps have scored just 81 points to 183 against before the break. Wasps’ aggregate points difference is -73 in the first half, Bristol’s is +56 points.
Bristol: 15. Charles Piutau; 14. Niyi Adeolokun, 13. Henry Purdy, 12. Piers O’Conor, 11. Siva Naulago; 10. Tiff Eden, 9. Andy Uren; 1. Yann Thomas, 2. Bryan Byrne, 3. Max Lahiff, 4. Dave Attwood, 5. Joe Joyce, 6. Steven Luatua (c), 7. Dan Thomas, 8. Nathan Hughes.
Replacements: 16. Will Capon, 17. Jake Woolmore, 28. John Afoa, 19. Chris Vui, 20. Jake Heenan, 21. Tom Kessell, 22. Charlie Powell, 23. Toby Fricker.
Wasps: 15. Rob Miller, 14. Zach Kibirige, 13. Malakai Fekitoa, 12. Jimmy Gopperth, 11. Josh Bassett, 10. Jacob Umaga, 9. Will Porter, 1. Tom West, 2. Gabriel Oghre, 3. Jeff Toomaga-Allen, 4. Will Rowlands, 5. James Gaskell, 6. Brad Shields (c), 7. Thomas Young , 8. Sione Vailanu.
Replacements: 16. Tommy Taylor, 17. Ben Harris, 18. Jack Owlett, 19. Levi Douglas, 20. Tom Willis, 21. Ben Vellacott, 22. Michael Le Bourgeois, 23. Matteo Minozzi.
Saturday March 13th
PREDICTION – CHIEFS BY 4
Exeter’s irresistible second-half performance against Bath last weekend suggests they are over their minor blip and are now looking forward to the business end of the season with relish.
Positioned in second spot, two points ahead of Quins, the Chiefs head into this clash high on confidence following a notable 38-16 victory at The Rec where they came from 13 points down inside the first quarter.
The defending champions regrouped impressively to run in six tries and keep the pressure on league leaders Bristol Bears, and Baxter will be looking for his side to kick on from here as they build towards the back-to-back European rounds in April.
Jack Innard stepped in with a man-of-the-match display against Bath, in his first league start of the season, and he goes again in the Chiefs’ front row. To know that someone can come in and do a job like that, in the absence of Jack Yeandle and Luke Cowan-Dickie, must be very comforting for Baxter.
At full-back, Facundo Cordero is a quality replacement for Scotland skipper Stuart Hogg and the Argentinian will relish the extra freedom he’ll get there compared to the wing.
Win would be some statement from Quins
Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off presents the visitors with a serious test of their title credentials and they are more than capable of winning at Sandy Park in the league for the first time since 2014.
Premiership Player of the Month for February, Marcus Smith, is in the form of his life and would love nothing more than to mark his 100th club appearance with a win against the defending champions on their own patch.
His battle with Joe Simmonds will be one to saviour, as will the other head-to-head between two more players ignored by England – the respective No.8s, Sam Simmonds and Alex Dombrandt.
Simmonds is the league’s top try-scorer with 13 to Dombrandt’s six, but both players’ contributions extend way beyond their ability to cross the whitewash at regular intervals.
Overall, this fixture has the calibre and potential to be every bit as good as the Six Nations matches that follow.
Exeter: 15 Facundo Cordero, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Ian Whitten, 12 Tom Hendrickson, 11 Tom O’Flaherty, 10 Joe Simmonds (capt), 9 Stu Townsend, 1 Alec Hepburn, 2 Jack Innard, 3 Harry Williams, 4 Jannes Kirsten, 5 Sam Skinner, 6 Dave Ewers, 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 8 Sam Simmonds.
Replacements: 16 Elvis Taione, 17 Ben Moon, 18 Marcus Street, 19 Sean Lonsdale, 20 Richard Capstick, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Harvey Skinner, 23 Ollie Devoto.
Saturday March 13th
PREDICTION – FALCONS BY 6
Newcastle to win at 11/10 (Betfred) looks to be the bet here. The Falcons shocked Bath in the first game back up in the Premiership and Kingston Park has been a bit of a graveyard for the men from the West Country in the past.
Bath played exceptional rugby for the first half an hour against Exeter before the Chiefs steamrollered them but Saturday’s blowy conditions are unlikely to be suitable for basketball-style rugby, and as the home team, Newcastle will know how to master the conditions best.
Bath have selected another quality side but this fixture has ambush written all over it, especially with the grizzly one, Gary Graham, in the home side’s back row.
Graham enjoyed himself down at The Rec with a man-of-the-match display and the Falcons always seem to play better when the international is present in their back row. Scotland’s loss is the Falcons’ gain.
Falcons have won the last six meetings and we won’t be surprised if they extend that run to seven, although Dean Richards’ wish for a four-try bonus-point victory may have to wait.
Newcastle: 15 Tom Penny, 14 Alex Tait, 13 George Wacokecoke, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 Mateo Carreras, 10 Joel Hodgson, 9 Michael Young (c), 1 Trevor Davison, 2 George McGuigan, 3 Mark Tampin, 4 Greg Peterson, 5 Darren Barry, 6 Gary Graham, 7 Philip van der Walt, 8 Callum Chick.
Replacements: 16 Charlie Maddison, 17 Kyle Cooper, 18 Logovi’i Mulipola, 19 Sean Robinson, 20 John Hardie, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Brett Connon, 23 Joel Matavesi.
Saturday March 13th
PREDICTION – SALE BY 4
Nearly but not quite sums up the performance of both teams so far this season.
Saints could easily have been better than fifth had they not let missed opportunities go abegging and Sale, whilst one place above them in the table, are still not quite hitting their straps.
The Sharks will fancy their chances of dominating upfront, but the Saints have more scoring potential in the backs. Of the two though, Sale seem to be better at grinding out wins when they need them.
Saints blew a 19-3 lead to lose 23-22 at home to Bath a fortnight ago and, last week, they failed to take their chances when playing against 13 men at the Twickenham Stoop, to go down 37-19 to Quins.
The Sharks certainly won’t have any fears going to Franklin’s Gardens; Saints have only won once their in 15 months and out of all the side’s in the Premiership, they’re probably missing the vocal backing of their fans the most.
Northampton: 15 George Furbank, 14 Tommy Freeman, 13 Fraser Dingwall, 12 Piers Francis, 11 Ollie Sleightholme, 10 James Grayson, 9 Tom James, 1 Alex Waller (c), 2 Reece Marshall, 3 Ehren Painter, 4 Alex Moon, 5 Alex Coles, 6 Tom Wood, 7 Lewis Ludlam (c), 8 Teimana Harrison.
Replacements: 16 Mike Haywood, 17 Nick Auterac, 18 Paul Hill, 19 Api Ratuniyarawa, 20 JJ Tonks, 21 Henry Taylor, 22 Rory Hutchinson, 23 Harry Mallinder
Sale: 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Byron McGuigan, 13 Sam James, 12 Sam Hill, 11 Arron Reed, 10 AJ MacGinty, 9 Faf de Klerk, 1 Ross Harrison, 2 Akker van der Merwe, 3 WillGriff John, 4 Cobus Wiese,5 Lood de Jager,6 Jean-Luc du Preez,7 Jono Ross (c), 8 Daniel du Preez.
Replacements: 16 Curtis Langdon, 17 Bevan Rodd, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 Josh Beaumont, 20 Sam Dugdale, 21 Raffi Quirke, 22 Robert du Preez, 23 Tom Roebuc
Saturday March 13th
PREDICTION – GLOS BY 6
Gloucester are resurgent after back-to-back wins against Worcester and Wasps and will be looking to complete the treble against a team that’s been terrible away from home for a long time.
The Tigers’ only away win in any competition this season (excluding declared results) was on a trip to Bayonne in the European Challenge Cup in December.
From a coaching point of view, there’s a fascinating match-up between two former Premiership locks in George Skivington and Steve Borthwick. It’s fair to say that neither enjoyed a honeymoon period but the signs are there that their message is now starting to get through.
No.8 Hanro Liebenberg returns from suspension to boost Tigers but Gloucester should just be too strong.
Gloucester: 15 Kyle Moyle, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Tom Seabrook, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 Santiago Carreras, 10 George Barton, 9 Willi Heinz, 1 Alex Seville, 2 Santiago Socino, 3 Jack Stanley, 4 Ed Slater, 5 Matias Alemanno, 6 Jordy Reid, 7 Lewis Ludlow (c), .8 Ruan Ackermann.
Replacements: 16 Henry Walker, 17 Jamal Ford-Robinson, 18 Fraser Balmain, 19 Alex Craig, 20 Jack Clement, 21 Charlie Chapman, 22 Henry Trinder, 23 Matt Banahan.
Leicester: 15 Freddie Steward, 14 Kobus Van Wyk, 13 Matías Moroni, 12 Dan Kelly, 11 Kini Murimurivalu, 10 Zack Henry, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 1 Luan de Bruin, 2 Tom Youngs (c), 3 Dan Cole, 4 Harry Wells, 5 Calum Green, 6 Cyle Brink, 7 Tommy Reffell, 8 Hanro Liebenberg.
Replacements: 16 Charlie Clare, 17 Nephi Leatigaga, 18 Joe Heyes, 19 Tomás Lavanini, 20 Ollie Chessum, 21 Jack Van Poortvliet, 22 Johnny McPhillips, 23 Guy Porter.
Sunday March 14th
PREDICTION – IRISH BY 8
Both teams traditionally yo-yo between the Premiership and the Championship but, of the two, Irish’s chance of breaking the mould look better.
Now settled into their brilliant new home in Brentford, Irish have put on some good performances of late and are now up to seventh in the table, 15 points clear of bottom placed Worcester.
Buoyed by the enthusiasm and pace of their largely homegrown backline, Irish have managed to find their attacking mojo, topping 30 points in two of their last three encounters. And Worcester showed signs in running Bristol close in Round 12 that their own young guns are ready to fire a few shots.
However, it is normally a low-scoring affair whenever these two teams meet. Neither has scored more than 26 points in the last eight meetings and the highest match aggregate is 38 points so going under 46.5 points (5/6 Paddy Power) looks to be the only logical choice.