THE FIFTH round of the Aviva Premiership is here and without even a little ado we jump right into previewing the ties and offering you our SuperBru predictions. Think you can do a better job than us? Bring it on…
Sharks v Bath
Danny Cipriani is like the Teflon pan you’re angry with for not cleaning itself. He gets hyped and chirped and then when he does not score 100 points a game he is rated a persistent disappointment. It makes little sense, but he is guiding Sale again and they look happy together. Captain Dan Braid is now talking up the demands to win week in, week out.
David Seymour is in his favoured position at 7 and plays his 100th game, playing alongside Braid while the outspoken Mark Cueto continues to rush through from the wing and Joe Ford, brother of Bath’s fly-half George and son of Bath’s coach Mike, will sit on the bench waiting to come on for Sale against his family.
They welcome a Bath side who have done well without truly obliterating anyone yet. Stuart Hooper comes in for the injured and in-from Dave Attwood – who may now miss England’s autumn internationals – and Jonathan Joseph and Kyle Eastmond continue their budding partnership in the centres. They may plan to slide past Sharks with Ford taking the ball to the line. The key will be whether Sale can keep their discipline at the AJ Bell stadium.
Rugby World’s prediction: Bath by 3
Irish v Quins
Remember the second-row crisis Quins were supposed to be having? They appear to have calmed themselves, coped and although Irish have looked sprightly and reinvigorated this season they have not won more than once and Harlequins should be able to grind Irish down.
Matt Hopper replaces George Lowe for Quins, while Karl Dickson is in at 9. The pack is unchanged. Meanwhile Irish have the huge boon of welcoming back George Skivington. Will that be enough?
Rugby World’s prediction: Harlequins by 10
Sarries v Wasps
With Joe Simpson, Tom Palmer and Sam Jones all missing for Wasps they are truly up against it when they visit Allianz Park. And Saracens are unforgiving.
Well, at least they were, but they have shuffled a lot. With Owen Farrell on the bench and Charlie Hodgson out, Alex Goode comes in at 10, with Chris Wyles in at centre beside Joel Tomkins. Neil de Kock replaces Richard Wigglesworth and Michael Tagicakibau comes in for David Strettle.
Of course, bringing in Will Fraser and James Johnston for their first starts of the season is hardly a weak move. Wasps will just be happy Jaques Burger is not rampaging about…
Rugby World’s prediction: Saracens by 20
Warriors v Falcons
Previewing this is almost unnecessary. It will be a slobberknocker with a lot of kicking. Headlines may come from the return of Carlo Del Fava for Falcons and Jeremy Becasseau for Worcester, but regardless of personel this will be closer than a shave with an industrial thresher.
Rugby World’s prediction: Worcester by 3
Tigers v Saints
Imagine Godzilla fighting Optimus Prime. In the Colosseum. On doomsday. At happy hour.
OK, so games like this draw too much hyperbole already, but the way the season has gone so far, this is the pick of the weekend. Monsterous back-rower Samu Manoa returns for Saints alongside leader Tom Wood as the only changes from last week while Graham Kitchener is the only addition for Tigers.
Yet it could come down to battles like George North versus Blaine Scully, Dan Cole versus Alex Corbisiero and Phil Dowson versus Julian Salvi to decide how this explosive clash ends up rumbling out.
Rugby World’s prediction: Leicester by 6
Gloucester v Chiefs
On Sunday scrum-half Dave Lewis starts for Chiefs against his former club, who have in turn have made several changes. James Hudson makes his debut in the Gloucester boiler house, Tavis Knoyle starts at 9, Martyn Thomas moves to full-back, Mike Tindall comes in for Henry Trinder and two props Yann Thomas and Rupert Harden slide into the front-row.
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All this being said, Gloucester still look a little more fragile than they would like, without ever really cracking and Chiefs could hound them for 80, as is their wont.
Rugby World’s prediction: Gloucester by 2