With two derbies to look forward to and confidence in Gloucester’s ability to win at Wasps, the West Country dominates today’s best rugby odds round-up.
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 5th
PREDICTION – BRISTOL BY 6
In Bristol Bears and Sale Sharks, we have two teams with quality players from 1-15. However, whilst one side is attacking with high levels of skill and execution at the moment, the other is only firing in fits and starts, the brilliant Sam James aside.
Bristol brought out all their attacking weapons in thrashing local rivals Bath 48-3, inflicting most of the damage in a brilliant first-half performance. The Bears will do well to reach those heights again, especially as they are without destroyer-in-chief Semi Radradra and equally deadly wing, Luke Morahan.
Straight-running Siale Piutau and ex-RL star and current serving soldier, Siva Naulago, come into the line-up as a result.
New Sharks boss Alex Sanderson has selected the same backline as the one that took to the field in the win against Leicester in Round 7, and that should help them click a bit better and potentially pose more of a threat with ball in hand.
Defensively, Sale have been good for a while, and that side of their game will only get better in time with former Sanderson now running the show.
When Bristol win, as we expect them to do at Ashton Gate on Friday night, it tends to be by a double-figure margin.
But against stubborn opponents, who don’t like to yield an inch let alone a mile like Bath, and without Radradra ripping it up, they may just fail to overcome the -8 handicap.
Bristol Bears: 15. Charles Piutau; 14. Siva Naulago, 13. Piers O’Conor, 12. Siale Piutau, 11. Henry Purdy; 10. Ioan Lloyd, 9. Andy Uren; 1. Jake Woolmore, 2. Bryan Byrne, 3. John Afoa, 4. Dave Attwood, 5. Chris Vui, 6. Steven Luatua (c), 7. Dan Thomas, Nathan Hughes.
Replacements: 16. Will Capon, 17. Yann Thomas, 18. Nahual Tetaz Chaparro, 19. Ed Holmes, 20. Jake Heenan, 21. Tom Kessell, 22. Sam Bedlow, 23. Alapati Leiua.
Replacements: 16. Ewan Ashman, 17. Ross Harrison, 18. Coenie Oosthuizen, 19. James Philiips, 20. Sam Dugdale, 21. Will Cliff, 22. Robert du Preez, 23. Simon Hammersley.
Saturday February 6th
PREDICTION – SAINTS BY 4
An improving Saints team head to the Ricoh Arena to face a Wasps side given a right old pasting by Quins last weekend.
The Six Nations period always produces a quirky result or two but the manner in which they were pulled apart surprised most people, including Wasps head coach Lee Blackett.
It will be fascinating to see what the response will be against a team that appears to be putting their anus horribilis of 2020 behind them.
The loss of Paolo Odogwu, Dan Robson and Jack Willis to England appears to have been more keenly felt than they’d have liked and Saints will make the short journey across the Midlands sniffing blood.
No.8 Shaun Adendorff, Saints’ man-of-the-match in their Round 7 win over Gloucester, gets another chance to impress in a pack showing only one change: Alex Moon at lock.
With Alex Mitchell posing a real threat at nine and Piers Francis displaying some of his old England form, we think Saints could repeat their win of 2020 at the Ricoh in a game full of tries.
Saturday February 6th
PREDICTION – QUINS BY 8
Does anyone know a good defence coach? That’s what Bath fans will have been asking themselves after seeing their side ship exactly 100 points in their last two fixtures.
Unfortunately for the blue, black and white faithful, it could get worse before it gets better because if Quins can reproduce anything like the attacking form they showed in dismantling Wasps, the home side won’t be able to live with them.
Quins have the luxury of naming an unchanged 23 and are playing with a real spring in their step now that Paul Gustard has left. Bath, on the other hand, are not firing at all and have the feel of a mish-mash of a team about them.
Joe Cokanasiga did not look sharp enough in the Bristol humiliation and Semesa Rokoduguni has forgotten what it is like to get the ball in space, so it is hard to see them matching fire with fire.
Saturday February 6th
PREDICTION – TIGERS BY 4
Under Steve Borthwick, Leicester’s game plan is quite straightforward – keep it tight, kick the leather off it and then turn the screw when everything is in place to do so.
Tigers have only conceded 14 tries and that defensively sound record probably won’t be dented too much by a Warriors outfit that never seems to score that many points.
With Richard Wigglesworth captaining Leicester Tigers in just his fifth appearance for the club and calling the shots at nine, Leicester’s game management should be in good order and we expect them to grind out a low-scoring victory.
Saturday February 6th
PREDICTION – IRISH BY 7
Will it be a fairytale homecoming for former Exiles lock George Skivington or another miserable day at the office for the Gloucester boss? We expect the latter.
Irish knock spots off Gloucester when it comes to experience and are starting to play like a proper team, not like a load of old pros looking for a decent payday before they bow out.
The return from injury of direct-running centre Terrence Hepete will only make them stronger and it looks like the Cherry & Whites will still be bottom come Saturday tea-time.
Two of the last three corresponding fixtures, albeit played in Reading, not Brentford, ended with a four-point win apiece, while the other was an Irish win by five points so there is a history of close calls between the two.
Sunday February 7th
PREDICTION – CHIEFS BY 6
By their own high standards, Exeter are going through a mini-slump. A scrappy 21-17 win over Worcester last weekend saw the Chiefs return to winning ways after back-to-back defeats to Bristol and Wasps but it was hardly the stuff of double-winning champions.
Performances have been sketchy, to say the least, but today’s game against Newcastle will not be about how well they play, just about getting the job done.
Newcastle don’t have the same depth in player resources that the Chiefs do and that shows in the respective matchday 23s, but what they do have is plenty of fight and defensive organisation. Getting to and from the northeast from deepest Devon is not easy, and neither will the 80 minutes in between.
With a keen eagerly wind blowing and snow forecast, the game will be all about dominating territory and possession. These sides love to keep the ball (they’re the only teams in the Premiership to average more than 20 minutes possession per match) and build pressure that way but with a slippery ball, that may not be easy.
The Chiefs will rely on their tried-and-tested driving line out whenever they get near the opposition 22, and Newcastle’s discipline will have to be on-point if they are going to stay in the fight. Any cheap penalties will be kicked to the corners with the Chiefs looking to muscle their way over from there.
There’s a good chance any tries that are scored will be by the forwards and Jack Yeandle, the Chiefs hooker, looks decent value at 100/30 as an anytime try-scorer, given he’s likely to latch to the back of such mauls.
This has all the makings of an attritional, low-scoring game, and one the Chiefs will dog out.