The pick of round seven Premiership action sees the top two clash at the AJ Bell on Friday as Sale Sharks host Bath. Shaun Goosen previews all of the weekend action.
Friday 24 November
Northampton Saints 3/5 | Draw 20/1 | Harlequins 27/20 (21:45)
Northampton and Harlequins both head into this one off the back of losses, with Saints having gone down at Leicester last week. Phil Downson’s men have a 50% win record so far and will be eager to add another victory here ahead of a daunting trip to Saracens in the next round.
‘Quins were thrashed by the defending champions themselves last week, copping a bad 38-10 loss at The Stoop. For a club with such lofty ambitions, that result is damaging and may impact the players’ psyche going forward.
Verdict: Saints (-3.5) 17/20
Northampton should be able to take full advantage of a wobbling ‘Quins outfit at Franklin’s Gardens.
Sale Sharks 12/25 | Draw 20/1 | Bath 13/8 (21:45)
Top-placed Sale lead the way in the Premiership after a five wins from six. Paul Deacon’s charges are looking determined to go one better than they managed last season and finally win a first title since 2006, with victory over pretenders Bath this Friday sure to send a massive message to the rest of the competition.
All-new Bath are just two points back of their opposition this week in second and can potentially win their third on the bounce at the AJ Bell. While they continue to improve and look likely to be there or thereabouts post-season, Sale is a tough nut to crack in Manchester.
Verdict: Bath (+5.5) 10/11
Get on the visitors to just miss out.
Saturday 25 November
Gloucester 23/20 | Draw 25/1 | Leicester Tigers 7/10 (16:30)
The Cherry and Whites have lost their last four on the trot. They’re eighth and on Saturday host a Tigers outfit that seem to be hitting form at a crucial time.
Ninth-placed Leicester may be just two from six, but their last two performances (a narrow loss to Quins and last week’s clinical display over Saints) suggest that the likes of World Cup winners Handre Pollard and Jasper Wiese may be the lynchpin off of which they begin to take control of their season.
Verdict: Leicester (-2.5) 17/20
Tigers by three or more here.
Saracens 1/10 | Draw 28/1 | Bristol Bears 5/1 (17:00)
Saracens (fourth) come off the back of their statement victory at The Stoop which could be a springboard for greater things to come this season. After two opening losses, the return of their England internationals has unsurprisingly ushered in a vast improvement and they should have too much firepower for Bears at the StoneX.
Seventh-placed Bristol’s fortunes don’t look likely to change on Saturday and their four-game losing run should be extended in London.
Verdict: Saracens (-14.5) 5/8
Saracens to bag a comfortable win.
Sunday 26 November
Newcastle 2/1| Draw 20/1 | Exeter 38/100
Winless Falcons are rooted to the bottom and things could get worse for them on Sunday. Exeter are third after a hard-fought one-point win over Gloucester a week ago but should be better against a clearly struggling Newcastle side.
Verdict: Newcastle (+7.5) 17/20
Falcons could take another narrow defeat here.