Simon Mail previews the latest Premiership action including champions Saracens' trip to Gloucester...
"This looks a good time for Gloucester to be facing their opponents with Saracens missing some of their key internationals. The Men in Black have already lost at Kingsholm this season in the Anglo Welsh Cup while Gloucester have also beaten leaders Wasps in the league."
Gloucester v Saracens
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Gloucester have been riddled with inconsistency this season and will be looking for a big response after their disappointing 34-9 defeat at Leicester last weekend. The Cherry and Whites have been pretty strong at home having won eight of their last nine matches in all competitions and Gloucester need a strong end to the season to have any chance of qualifying for the Champions Cup.
Saracens suffered a rare defeat last weekend after losing 24-18 at lowly Worcester Warriors. Mark McCall was critical of his side's set-piece and their lack of discipline as the champions slipped up. It was their third Premiership defeat of the campaign and there have been a few signs the team, second in the table, are not quite as dominant as in previous seasons.
This looks a good time for Gloucester to be facing a Saracens side that's missing some of their key internationals due to the Six Nations. The Men in Black have already lost at Kingsholm this season in the Anglo Welsh Cup while Gloucester have also beaten leaders Wasps in the league. The hosts are given a five-point handicap advantage and the outsiders look capable of keeping within this margin against a side not at the peak of their powers.
Bath v Harlequins
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Bath had a wobble in the Premiership at the turn of the year after losing three successive games but the side claimed an important home win over Northampton in their last outing. Todd Blackadder's side have been strong for the majority of the season and are focused on holding onto a place in the top four to ensure a semi-final spot in the spring.
Harlequins' poor away form in the league has left them six points behind fourth-placed Bath and with work to do to make up ground. Quins have won their last two games in the Premiership and ran out convincing 42-8 victors at Bristol last weekend. This has given them an outside chance of a top-four place although it will require a very strong end to the season to overhaul their rivals.
Bath have been difficult to beat at the Rec during this campaign and home advantage could give them the edge this weekend. Their only league defeat at the ground came against Exeter and Quins have not been strong travellers this season. Bath's last four Premiership wins have all been by no more than 12 points and this clash looks like it could follow a similar pattern.
Sale v Wasps
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Sale have put a miserable run of form behind them with four successive wins in all competitions. It has been a testing time for Steve Diamond after the Sharks lost ten matches on the spin. But significantly Sale stopped the rot in the league with a 26-24 home victory over Newcastle in their last game which eased fears of being dragged into a relegation battle.
It has been a superb campaign for Wasps with Dai Young's side five points clear at the top of the Premiership. Their form in the league has been hard to fault with just two defeats this season and Wasps are unbeaten in the competition since November's loss at Gloucester. The side claimed a 35-35 draw at Exeter last weekend.
Sale have their work cut out to maintain their recent upturn in form this weekend and a win could prove beyond them. Wasps may not be at full strength but their squad depth is such that the visitors will be expected to come away with the win. But Sale's last two league defeats have been by three points or less so backing a narrow away win is suggested.
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2016/17 Rugby P/L