The Premiership returns this weekend and Simon Mail previews the televised matches including Exeter's trip to Sale Sharks...
"The Premiership champions are playing with great confidence and belief as their win in France last weekend underlined. Exeter have only lost one of their last five clashes with Sale and claimed a 21-3 win at the AJ Bell Stadium last season."
Sale v Exeter
Live on BT Sport 1
Sale have endured a difficult start to the Premiership campaign with four defeats from their opening six games and face a tough challenge against the champions this weekend. The Sharks have gone three games without a win in all competitions and Steve Diamond will be focused on improving their domestic form. Wing Denny Solomona will be hoping to mark his place in the latest England squad with another try after scoring five times in the Premiership this season.
Exeter come into this game off the back of their most impressive result of the campaign after a superb 27-24 victory at Montpellier in the Champions Cup. The Chiefs have won their opening two games in Europe to boost their chances of reaching the knockout stages. This has followed on from a strong start to their title defence after winning four of their opening six games to sit second in the table.
The Premiership champions are playing with great confidence and belief as their win in France last weekend underlined. Exeter have only lost one of their last five clashes with Sale and claimed a 21-3 win at the AJ Bell Stadium last season. There is every reason to believe the visitors can clinch another victory over the Sharks and appeal as a bet to cover a four-point handicap.
Back Exeter -4.5 to win @ Evens (Sportsbook)
Northampton v Wasps
Live on BT Sport 2
Northampton have lost their momentum in recent weeks after a three-game losing run. The Saints are still in a strong position in the Premiership, in third place, but Jim Mallinder's side will want to put their problems in Europe behind them. Northampton were overwhelmed at home to Saracens in the Champions Cup and it is not yet clear how much their 57-13 hammering will have damaged their self-belief at Franklin's Gardens.
Wasps ended a poor run of form with a much-needed victory over Harlequins in Europe. Their 41-10 win last weekend was much more like the performances of last season, on the way to the Premiership final, which will be a big relief for Dai Young. Wasps suffered five successive defeats prior to this, with injuries playing their part, but the resounding win over Quins suggests the team are heading in the right direction.
The Saints are marginal favourites for this clash but it could be worth siding with the visitors to take the points. Wasps have won the last four meetings between the sides including two games at Northampton so their recent run could give them the edge. Boosted by their emphatic success last weekend, Wasps appear to have plenty in their favour and can take advantage of a Saints side a little short on confidence.
Back Wasps to win at [2.56]
Bath v Gloucester
Live on BT Sport 1
This weekend's action finishes with the West Country derby as Bath entertain Gloucester. The hosts are lurking just outside the top four after four wins from their opening six Premiership games. Bath have claimed four consecutive victories in all competitions although Todd Blackadder's side have not been at their free-flowing best during wins over the Scarlets and Benetton over the last fortnight.
Gloucester are notoriously inconsistent and it has been no different this season for the Cherry and Whites. It must be frustrating watching a side go from defeating the champions at home to being thrashed at Sale. Their problems have mainly been away from home where they have lost all four games. Gloucester face a tough ask ending that run this weekend at the Rec against their rivals.
Bath are short-priced favourites this weekend and the hosts should deliver against a Gloucester side struggling on the road. Bath have led comfortably at the break in their last two home games and could make another fast start. With the first-half handicap set at six points, Bath look worth supporting against a team which has been at least 14 points behind midway through every away match this season.
Back Bath -6 to win the first half handicap @ 10/11 (Sportsbook)
*Some prices quoted are guide prices only as markets weren't available at the time of publication
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2017/18 Rugby P/L