The Premiership returns this week, and there are some thrilling matchups to look forward to.
With the Six Nations in full swing, some teams are undoubtedly going to miss their superstars, but this should lead to an even more exciting display of rugby, as players look to stake their claim for positions with their teammates absent.
Our Rugby Union expert brings you the best bets for the upcoming weekend.
Gloucester v Exeter
A very tasty west-country derby takes place tonight, with top of the table Chiefs facing off against a dangerous Gloucester team.
Chiefs always lose players during the international break, yet haven’t missed a beat in the last few seasons, and the production line keeps churning out talent. However, Gloucester have Danny Cipriani.
The maverick 10 has been an outstanding acquisition for the Kingsholm unit, and the backline has thrived with him in it. It is set to be an incredible tight game, with both teams available at 5/6 with Grosvenorsport.com, but I would take either team to win by 7 or less at 11/10.
Bristol v Wasps
These two teams were separated by an entire division last season, but now the difference is only five points.
Wasps have had a very poor season by their high standards, yet remain in the playoff hunt, only three points outside the top four. Bristol made waves when they were promoted, signing a flurry of big-name players, and Wasps themselves have become a victim of the Bears ambition, with Nathan Hughes heading to Ashton Gate when the season is over.
Bristol are slight favourites here at 4/6, but I think Wasps’ class will shine through. Despite missing the internationals, they have talent all over the park, and their star studded line up can see them to an away victory. Back the visitors at 11/10.
Northampton v Sale
Four places separate these two, but only two points. This is an indictment of how tight the Premiership is this season, and both teams are starting to move in the right direction.
Sale got a fantastic win against Saracens recently, whilst Saints are starting to find their groove, with a fine away win at Exeter just after Christmas and a thorough 111-3 dismantling of Timisoara Saracens in the Challenge Cup.
Both sides play a thrilling brand of attacking rugby, and points could be the order of the day. Saints are 4/9, whilst Sale are 7/4. As much as I think Saints will play well, Sale have match-winners all over the park and are marshalled by the imperious Faf de Klerk. I think Sale will leave Franklin Gardens with the spoils.