They’re both in home action this week and they look good bets to extend their winning streaks to five matches.
There are also some interesting tussles further down the table, as those who have made stuttering starts look to avoid falling too far behind the teams currently occupying the top four spots…
NEWCASTLE FALCONS VS WASPS
Friday night’s action sees a battle between last season’s two losing semi-finalists at Kingston Park. It’s been a tough start for Newcastle, with defeats to Saracens, Leicester and Exeter all in the first month of the season. The only saving grace has been a narrow 23-20 victory over many people’s pick for relegation, Worcester Warriors.
They come up against a Wasps outfit who produced a fine display to defeat Sale Sharks 31-13 at the AJ Bell Stadium last weekend. A try apiece for Nizaam Carr, Josh Bassett, Will Stuart and Nathan Hughes and a fine kicking display from Lima Sopoaga ensured victory. Three wins from four makes Wasps the favourites for this one, but Newcastle will be eager to kickstart their campaign ahead of a slightly easier run of fixtures.
BRISTOL BEARS VS NORTHAMPTON SAINTS
Newly-promoted Bristol will feel happy with their early season work after registering home wins against Bath and Harlequins. It was against the latter last weekend where they produced their best performance of the season so far, as they were able to take advantage of three yellow-cards to seal a 20-13 victory. They’re in action against Saints at Ashton Gate this weekend, when they will look to maintain their 100% home record.
Northampton’s only victory so far this season was also against Harlequins, and they were unlucky against Saracens a fortnight ago. They established a 10-point lead early on but the champions were eventually too much for them, and second-half mistakes were punished with tries. A two-point defeat at Bath last time out means that defeat on Saturday could leave them bottom of the table if Sale pick a result up at Leicester.
EXETER CHIEFS VS WORCESTER WARRIORS
A home victory looks like a certainty for this one, with an extra bonus point for Saracens the only thing keeping Exeter Chiefs from the top of the Gallagher Premiership. A comprehensive opening day victory over Leicester was followed by a gutsy performance to defeat Wasps at the Ricoh Arena. A home win over Sale was then followed by last weekend’s win at Newcastle and already Exeter are looking like a safe bet to finish in the top four once again.
Despite being tipped to struggle this season, it has been a slightly unlucky start for Worcester and one win from four doesn’t tell the full story. A Billy Searle penalty 12 minutes from time in the season-opener resulted in a 21-20 home defeat to Wasps, before another narrow defeat to Sale the following weekend. The hard luck story continued as they lost to Newcastle by three points, but last weekend’s surprise victory over Leicester Tigers at Welford Road finally gave them their first victory. Even then Worcester made it hard for themselves, as Premiership debutant Ted Hill’s last-minute try sealed a dramatic 44-37 win.
GLOUCESTER VS HARLEQUINS
Two wins and a draw for Gloucester represents a decent start to the 2018/19 campaign, and they are currently just one point behind fourth-placed Bath, who face a trip to Saracens. That means that Gloucester could well make their way into the top four with victory at Kingsholm this weekend.
They’ve won both home games this season and they will fancy their chances of a third win against a Harlequins side who have lost in each of their last three matches. Harlequins’ defeat last weekend saw a first league win for Bristol Bears over their rivals since 2006.
SARACENS VS BATH
Mark McCall’s side have picked up from where they left off last season, and the champions have recorded four straight victories. Bath won’t be a stroll in the park for Saracens, but with Exeter breathing down their necks they will want to maintain their perfect start.
Bath’s only domestic victory on Saracens soil since 2006 was the 16-14 victory at Vicarage Road in February 2010, whilst one of the most famous Saracens wins was in May 2015 when Owen Farrell scored 18 points out of a total of 28 to help his side to the league title at Twickenham.
This fixture last season saw a convincing 41-6 home win as Saracens confirmed their semi-finals place, and a repeat scenario would be the ideal preparation for next month’s Champions Cup action.
LEICESTER TIGERS VS SALE SHARKS
It hasn’t been an ideal start to the season for Tigers, but a home match against bottom side Sale Sharks provides an opportunity to kickstart their season. It’s easy to see where the issue lies, in four matches Leicester have already conceded 158 points which is 26 more than bottom side Sale.
There have also been 21 tries scored against Tigers, four more than anyone else in the league. Whilst there is a clear issue in their defensive play, only Saracens and Exeter have scored more points so far this season. Meanwhile, Sale are currently propping up the league after winning once in four games whilst having a poor points difference of -57. If Leicester can solve their defensive issues then they should prevail on Sunday, but a repeat of last week and Sale could move off the bottom.
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