From Rugby World reader, Kate Bamber
Ospreys v Leeds Carnegie
The Ospreys were crushed 40-19 by the Dragons last week on the back of their Heineken Cup win over Leicester. Leeds were also defeated last weekend at Headingley by Saracens, with Leeds’ woeful home form continuing after their torrid 18-9 Amlin Cup defeat by Bourgoin. Unlike the Ospreys Leeds aren’t affected by international call ups, but with their current form I can’t see Leeds taking anything from this game.
My prediction: Ospreys by 12.
Bath v Sale
Bath lost 27-11 to Leicester in the last round, and Sale lost 20-14 at home to Northampton. Both of these teams look unlikely to progress in this competition, both sitting third in their respective pools. Bath have ground out a few results with home advantage, whilst Sale’s performances away from home have been woeful this season.
My prediction: Bath to win by 7.
Northampton v Leicester
Pool 1 leaders Leicester travel to Franklins Gardens to play the only English team remaining in the Heineken Cup. Last week the Tigers dispatched Bath at Welford Road 27-11 with a strong second string side, whilst the Saints beat Sale 20-14 away from home. With Foden, Lawes and Hartley missing for Northampton and Moody, Flood, Deacon and Cole missing for the Tigers, the second string will battle it out again.
My prediction: Leicester to win by 9.
Scarlets v Cardiff Blues
Both teams are top of their respective pools, and both teams come into this game on the back of a win in the last round. The Blues demolished Newcastle by 45-24 and ran in six tries, whilst the Scarlets beat Wasps 18-13 away at Adams Park. Both sides will be stripped of their Welsh stars and step out a shadow of the sides that both bowed out of the Heineken Cup. Separated by one place in the Magners League it is a tough one to call, but I think the Scarlets will edge it.
My prediction: Scarlets to win by 5.
Worcester v London Irish
When these teams last met in the Guinness Premiership on 5 December at the Madejski Stadium, the result was a 16-16 draw. Both teams have won one game from three in this competition. Last week, Irish lost at 16-13 home to Harlequins whilst Worcester were defeated 17-5 by Gloucester at Kingsholm. The Exiles will miss the Armitage brothers whilst Worcester will be without Matt Mullen and Alex Grove.
My prediction: Another draw.
Harlequins v Gloucester
Harlequins have been the Kings of inconsistency this season. They failed to win a single pool game in the Heineken Cup but have shown flashes of brilliance in the Guinness Premiership. Sitting second behind Cardiff Blues in their LV= Cup pool, last week Harlequins beat London Irish away from home. Gloucester lie second in their pool after beating Worcester 17-5 last weekend. When they met in the Guinness Premiership on 28 November, Harlequins’ Danny Care and Nick Evans ran riot and led Quins to an impressive 35-29 victory. Care is on England duty, but I think Quins will win again.
My prediction: Harlequins by 8.
Newcastle v Wasps
When these side last met in the Guinness Premiership at Adams Park Newcastle pulled off a shock 12-6 victory. This was thanks to the Falcons dominance at the scrum, as Carl Hayman and John Golding demolished the Wasps’ pack. Last weekend Wasps suffered against the Scarlets, losing 18-13 at home. Newcastle also suffered a defeat away to the Cardiff Blues. With psychological advantage after their last meeting, I think Newcastle will win again.
My prediction: Newcastle to win by 6.
Saracens v Newport Gwent Dragons
Saracens won 28-5 against Leeds Carnegie in the last round, and are second in their pool on points difference. The Dragons beat the Ospreys 40-19 last weekend and also lie second in their pool. The Dragons’ form in the Magners League has been inconsistent as they have won five of their ten matches. Saracens are second in the Guinness Premiership, one point behind leaders Leicester with a game in hand. Based on consistency of performances, I’m tipping Saracens to win.
My prediction: Scarlets to win by 5.