The end of the Rugby season is closing in and some of these last fixtures can be quite tricky with squad players getting game time and those still in Europe protecting players for next weeks semis. With all this there should be some handicaps that are probably a little off the mark.
Bath v Leicester
This is the first one I am going to pick up on. Leicester do not have a good record at the Rec but are a team in form and do have players coming back in to their squad all the time. The pack today contains 5 England Internationals as well as the South Sea power of Mulipola and Mafi to go with the ball winning ability of Salvi at 7. That for me is going to be where the battle is won and as we know if Youngs and Flood get time and front foot ball they will destroy sides.
Gloucester v Saracens
Saracens may have won last year at Kingsholm but that is their only win in the last 8 years at Castle Grim and they left their 2pt win last year until the dying minutes. Gloucester may not be playing their best at the moment but Leicester and Harlequins have visited without getting the win and despite all the close matches this year Gloucester have only lost 2. one was the first game of the season and the other a complete abject performance v London Irish. Saracens have also got Europe on their mind next week and have left Ashton, Barritt and Brown out with Farrell moving to 12 with Hodgson at 10. This is sure to be a tight game but Gloucester can edge it especially with a handicap start.
Northampton v Sale
Sale have taken some beatings this year with all of the top 6 having cleared today’s handicap. Sale have elected to switch their backs around a little and although they have been in decent form to drag them clear of the drop zone but away form still is a concern. Northampton look to have a very strong pack out with the backs to match this and with the attacking Lamb to come on from the bench I fully expect the 20 point mark to be breached.
The remaining Premiership games look a little tougher with Quins a little out of form and Worcester strong at home, the battle of the 2 x poor exiles and the jeckyll and hyde Wasps v Exeter.
If pushed I would take Quins, Wasps and Irish
In France both Stade Francais and Biarritz will be heading in to their games with weakened sides. Both have Amlin cup semis and both are realistically out of the top 6 with the Amlin cup the only chance of qualifying for Europe premier cup next year. Also of note is Grenoble v Toulon, Grenoble have won 9 at home but have lost their last 6 in the league including 2 at home and with them moving it to the football ground that may negate a bit of home advantage v Toulon. Toulon may rest players but are such a strong squad they should beat the -5.5 handicap.