Aviva Premiership: Champions Exeter should prove too strong for Gloucester
Simon Mail previews the latest Premiership action and thinks champions Exeter can consolidate top spot with a home win over Gloucester...
"League leaders Exeter have won their last five matches in all competitions and the Chiefs are fancied to extend this record with a home victory over Gloucester."
Wasps can grind out vital win at Sharks
Sale v Wasps
Live on BT Sport 1
Sale are perched in mid-table in the Premiership although Steve Diamond'side still have an outside chance of reaching the semi-finals. The Sharks have won their last two matches in the competition, beating Northampton and most recently Wasps. A top-four finish for Sale looks a long shot with only four games remaining for the side to claw back a six-point deficit.
Wasps reached the Premiership final last season and are again on course for another title challenge. Dai Young's side are third in the table and will be aiming to secure a top-two finish which would clinch home advantage in the semi-finals. Wasps were beaten at Leicester in their last match which left them two points behind second-placed Saracens.
This looks a tight clash with virtually nothing to separate them in the betting. Wasps came out on top in an entertaining 50-35 home win back in September although it has been a tough fixture for them away from home. Sale are difficult to beat at the AJ Bell Stadium although Wasps have the attacking quality to outscore them and claim a narrow win.
In-form Tigers can overcome Bath
Bath v Leicester
Live on BT Sport 3
Bath are on the road for their home game as Twickenham hosts their match against Leicester this weekend. Bath's hopes of a top-four finish are fading fast and the team will probably need to win all their games to have any chance. Defeats in their last two Premiership games, at Harlequins and at home to Exeter, have slipped them down the league to eighth spot. Bath also lost the Anglo Welsh Cup final to the Chiefs 28-11 last week.
Leicester are the form team in the competition after a run of four successive Premiership wins lifted them up to fifth in the table. The Tigers appear to be peaking at the right time and are just three points off fourth-placed Newcastle, a side they will host in a crucial fixture at the end of this month. Leicester edged past Wasps 16-15 in their last match to maintain their winning run.
This match pits together a side struggling for form against a Leicester side full of confidence after their recent wins. Home advantage is also negated for Bath, with the match taking place at Twickenham, so everything points towards a Tigers win. Leicester look worth backing to cover a two-point handicap and maintain their run of victories.
Chiefs should continue title charge
Exeter v Gloucester
Live on BT Sport 1
Champions Exeter remain on course for a successful title defence with Rob Baxter's side eight points clear at the top of the Premiership. The Chiefs have been the most consistent team again this season and have won 13 of their 18 league games. Exeter also claimed silverware last weekend after a young team defeated Bath in the Anglo Welsh Cup final.
Gloucester have been in and around the top four for most of this season and the Cherry and Whites will be desperate to rediscover top form in time to secure a semi-final spot. Their league results have dipped recently with one win in the last four matches seeing them drop to sixth place. But Gloucester come into this match off the back of a 33-28 win at Connacht in the European Challenge Cup.
League leaders Exeter have won their last five matches in all competitions and the Chiefs are fancied to extend this record with a home victory over Gloucester. The Cherry and Whites' last five defeats have all been by no more than 12 points so the visitors can keep this one close. But Exeter can move a step closer to sealing top spot with another win.
Follow Simon's bets on Twitter @watfordtipster
2017/18 Rugby P/L
Back Wasps to win by 1-12 points @ 21/10 (Sportsbook)
Back Leicester -2 to win @ 10/11 (Sportsbook)
Back Exeter to win by 1-12 points at about [3.0]