The latest Premiership action including Saracens v Bath and Leicester v Northampton is previewed by Simon Mail...
"Saracens destroyed Northampton by 50 points last weekend and Bath could be in for a tough afternoon at Allianz Park. The visitors are on a losing run while Sarries could be peaking at the right time for another title challenge."
Falcons to remain in contention for top-four spot
Newcastle v Sale
Live on BT Sport 1
The opening game of this weekend is a big clash between two sides still holding ambitions of forcing their way into the Premiership semi-finals. Fifth-placed Newcastle are just a point and place ahead of their opponents so this match will have a major impact on their chances of a top-four finish. The Falcons have been excellent this season under Dean Richards but slipped up last weekend, after four successive league wins, with a 27-13 defeat at Worcester.
Sale are refusing to give up the chase for the top four and are only three points off third-placed Leicester heading into the closing weeks of the regular season. The Sharks have won three consecutive games to boost their chances of extending their season. Sale edged out Wasps 28-27 at home last weekend in a dramatic finish after a try from Marland Yarde at the death.
There is so much at stake in this clash with only three games remaining and it is likely to be a tense affair at Kingston Park. Newcastle's home record has been superb with the side unbeaten since November after winning their last eight games at the ground. The Falcons look likely to extend this run although the side only won at Sale by one point back in September so this should be settled by fine margins. A tight home win by no more than 12 points looks the best bet.
Few problems expected for Tigers against Saints
Leicester v Northampton
Live on BT Sport 2
Leicester are timing their form perfectly for the business end of the season and the side are heading for their annual semi-final spot. The Tigers appeared to be struggling a few months back but are full of confidence and momentum after putting together a five-match winning run. Leicester defeated Bath 34-19 at Twickenham last weekend which has taken them up to third in the Premiership.
It has been a dreadful season for Northampton with fans surely desperate to see the back of the campaign. The Saints are tenth in the table and only one point in front of Worcester after losing 13 of their 19 matches. Northampton were on the end of a 63-13 drubbing at home to Saracens last week which was their fifth successive defeat in all competitions.
This looks a mismatch with a Leicester side in superb form expected to overcome Northampton. The Saints need to muster a significant improvement and this fixture may help them rise to the occasion but the hosts look too strong for them. That said, Leicester have not won a home league game by more than 15 points this season and the handicap mark of 16 points looks a stretch. Northampton should lift their game for the derby and could prevail with a hefty head start.
Sarries to keep on course for home semi-final
Saracens v Bath
Live on BT Sport 1
Saracens are on course to secure a home semi-final after building a six-point cushion over third-placed Leicester. The Men in Black have put the disappointment of their Champions Cup defence behind them and are closing in on a top-two Premiership finish. Sarries were in ruthless form last weekend as they scored nine tries in their rout at Northampton.
Bath's season is petering out with all the promise from earlier in the season long gone. The side fell away to miss out on the top four last year and have again struggled towards the end of this campaign slipping down to eighth. Bath come into this match off the back of three consecutive defeats including their loss to Leicester at Twickenham last week.
Saracens destroyed Northampton by 50 points last weekend and Bath could be in for a tough afternoon at Allianz Park. The visitors are on a losing run while Sarries could be peaking at the right time for another title challenge. There is every chance the hosts will pile on the points again this weekend and if Bath do not start well, Saracens could cover a 17-point handicap and claim another convincing win.
Follow Simon's bets on Twitter @watfordtipster
2017/18 Rugby P/L