Aviva Premiership: Northampton could struggle to see off Bath

Bath have won their opening two matches this season in the Premiership
Bath have won their opening two matches this season in the Premiership
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Simon Mail previews the latest round of Premiership action starting with Northampton's clash at home to Bath...

"Bath come into this match full of confidence after their winning start to the season and also completed the double over Northampton last year."

Northampton v Bath
Friday, 19:45
Live on BT Sport 2

Northampton got off the mark this season with a vital home win over fierce rivals Leicester Tigers last weekend. It was a much-needed boost for the Saints after conceding 55 points in their opening defeat to Saracens. Jim Mallinder's side toppled the Tigers for the first time in three years as they produced the ideal response to their forgettable performance at Twickenham.

It has been a superb start to the campaign for Bath after winning both of their games. Todd Blackadder's side claimed a rare victory at Leicester in their first match and backed it up with a dramatic home win over Saracens. Overcoming the Men in Black was a huge boost after two late tries from Semesa Rokoduguni fired them to a 31-21 success at the Rec just as Sarries appeared to be heading for a tight win.

Bath come into this match full of confidence after their winning start to the season and also completed the double over Northampton last year. The Saints were beaten 18-14 at home to them 12 months ago and Bath also won 32-30 back in February. It suggests this will be settled by fine margins again but the visitors are a tempting price, considering their current form, to maintain their run of victories.

Recommended Bet
Back Bath to win @ 11/10 (Sportsbook)

Leicester v Gloucester
Saturday, 15:00
Live on BT Sport 2

Leicester have endured a dreadful start to the season, losing both matches. The Tigers normally have an excellent record at Welford Road but their air of invincibility at home was absent during a 27-23 defeat to Bath on the opening day. Leicester were again well below par last weekend as they lost 24-11 to Northampton which heightened the pressure on director of rugby Matt O'Connor.

Gloucester's lack of consistency was a source of frustration last season and their opening two games have already highlighted the problem again. The Cherry and Whites pulled off a memorable home win over champions Exeter in their first outing. But new boss Johan Ackermann was dismayed by his side's performance during the 28-17 defeat at Harlequins last weekend. It is difficult to know which team will emerge this time although their away form has to be a concern.

With just one victory on the road in the league for 12 months, at relegated Bristol, Gloucester have struggled away from home. Leicester desperately need a win and will probably be relieved to be up against these opponents. The Tigers have lost just one of the last nine meetings with Gloucester so should have enough to claim the points. But with confidence in short supply, Leicester may make hard work of it and a narrow home victory could be the best value bet.

Recommended Bet
Back Leicester to win by 1-12 points at about [2.8]

Newcastle v Saracens
Saturday, 22:00
Live on BT Sport 3

The Premiership goes global again this weekend with Newcastle's game against Saracens taking place in Philadelphia. The Falcons have made a strong start to the season winning both of their league games. Newcastle comfortably defeated Worcester at home before grinding out a hard-earned 13-12 win at Sale last week. Dean Richards' side have won four Premiership matches in a row stretching back to the previous campaign.

Saracens' unbeaten record was ended last weekend after their dramatic defeat at Bath. Mark McCall was unhappy with his team's first-half performance which proved costly as they trailed 14-0. It was in stark contrast to their nine-try rout against Northampton in their opener. Sarries remain title favourites but their result at Bath underlines the side will still be punished if they drop their guard.

Although Saracens are overwhelming favourites, there may be some mileage in backing the underdogs with a big handicap advantage. Newcastle are handed a 17-point head start and this appeals considering their current form. The Falcons are full of confidence and can make life difficult for their opponents. Sarries played London Irish in America last year winning by just ten points and this game may also not prove as one-sided as the odds suggest.

Recommended Bet
Back Newcastle +17 to win @ 10/11 (Sportsbook)

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

Wasps lost in last season's Premiership final but Dai Young's side have already put this behind them with a promising start to the campaign. The Coventry-based side had too much attacking quality for Sale to handle in their first home game before claiming a 24-10 win at early strugglers Worcester last weekend. Wasps may not have hit top gear yet but the signs are encouraging for another strong title challenge.

Harlequins have demonstrated the inconsistency which dogged them last year in their opening two games. Quins stumbled at Twickenham on the opening weekend after losing to newly-promoted London Irish. But the side put this behind them last weekend at the Stoop as they claimed a 28-17 win over Gloucester. Harlequins need to find a cure to their poor away form though with their last victory coming in March.

Wasps have an outstanding record at the Ricoh Arena having won their last 20 Premiership games at the stadium. It is very difficult to see Harlequins halting this run and their recent defeats at Wasps have been heavy. The hosts have beaten Quins by at least 29 points here over the last three years so it is worth backing the favourites to cover a modest handicap of 13 points.

Recommended Bet
Back Wasps -13.5 to win @ 20/21 (Sportsbook)


Follow Simon's bets on Twitter @watfordtipster

2017/18 Rugby P/L

Staked: 8pts
Returned: 3.8pts
P/L: -4.2pts

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