Aviva Premiership: Wasps can clinch victory over champions Exeter

Dai Young's host champions Exeter this weekend at the Ricoh Arena
Dai Young's host champions Exeter this weekend at the Ricoh Arena
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Simon Mail previews the latest Premiership action including the clash between Wasps and champions Exeter...

"Wasps have momentum on their side and the hosts look well placed to claim a victory over Exeter this weekend. The visitors have lost three of their last four games in all competitions while Wasps are full of confidence after their win at Harlequins last week."

Sale v Saracens
Friday, 19:45 GMT
Live on BT Sport 1

Sale are in impressive form in the Premiership with five wins in their last six games firing them into contention for a top-four finish. The Sharks have undoubtedly improved as the season has progressed and are only five points off fourth-placed Gloucester with eight games remaining. Steve Diamond's side ground out a 13-9 win at bottom side London Irish last weekend to keep in touch with the teams above them.

Saracens are closing in on leaders Exeter with their 25-3 home win over Newcastle taking them to within two points of the champions. The Men in Black have managed to overcome the loss of internationals for the Six Nations winning their last four league games. Mark McCall's side are blessed with exceptional strength in depth and Sarries have the Chiefs within their sights after cutting into their lead at the top.

The visitors are favourites for this match but Sale are determined opponents and very difficult to beat at the AJ Bell Stadium. The Sharks have not lost by more than four points at home this season and are handed a five-point handicap advantage. Sale may not come out on top against Saracens, although it is a good time to play them with so many absentees, but the hosts certainly look worth backing with a head start.


Leicester v Harlequins
Saturday, 15:00 GMT
Live on BT Sport 1

It has been a miserable winter for Leicester and the team find themselves down in eighth place sitting nine points off the top four. The Tigers have lost seven of their 14 Premiership matches and are facing an uphill battle to secure a place in the semi-finals. Head coach Matt O'Connor is coming under increased pressure with his side winning just one of their last six games in the competition.

Harlequins have also had little to cheer although expectations are not as high as their opponents due to Leicester's track record of success. Quins come into this match one point and place below the Tigers in the table. There has been the odd highlight, such as the comeback win over Wasps in the Champions Cup, but mostly their form has been disappointing with eight defeats in 14 league games. Despite finishing the game with an extra player, Harlequins were beaten 44-22 at home to Wasps last weekend.

This match pits together two teams short on confidence after a poor run of results and it is difficult to see either team running away with it. Leicester have won their last three games against Quins, including the 31-28 victory in September, so the hosts look to have more in their favour. But it could be another tight contest and the Tigers are fancied to prevail by no more than 12 points.


Wasps v Exeter
Sunday, 15:00 GMT
Live on BT Sport 1

The game of the weekend comes at the Ricoh Arena with Wasps hosting Exeter in a repeat of last year's Premiership final at Twickenham. Wasps come into this contest in excellent shape after scoring six tries in the win at Harlequins despite having Kyle Eastmond sent off in the first half. Third-placed Wasps have won seven of their last eight games in the competition and Dai Young's side are likely to go close again in the title race.

Exeter remain top of the table but the champions have shown a few frailties in recent weeks losing their last two league matches. The Chiefs were poor last weekend in the 6-5 home defeat to Worcester and Rob Baxter was critical of his side's performance. The international absentees appear to have adversely affected them and the team also suffered disappointment recently after going out of Europe following a defeat to Glasgow.

Wasps have momentum on their side and the hosts look well placed to claim a victory over Exeter this weekend. The visitors have lost three of their last four games in all competitions while Wasps are full of confidence after their win at Harlequins last week. All of Exeter's defeats have come by no more than 12 points though so a narrow Wasps victory could be the most likely outcome.

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