Premiership: Revived Leicester can push Wasps all the way
Simon Mail previews the latest Premiership action which includes Wasps' home clash against Leicester Tigers...
"Geordan Murphy has been given the opportunity to become their next permanent head coach and he had an instant impact as Leicester scored five tries in their 49-33 home win over Newcastle."
Gloucester v Bristol
Live on BT Sport 2
Bears could land handicap bet
Gloucester have made a promising start to the season after taking seven points from their opening two games. The Cherry and Whites impressed during their 27-16 home victory over Northampton and should have backed this up with another win after surging into a 21-0 lead at Bath. But their rivals launched a fightback and in the end Gloucester needed a Matt Banahan try to salvage a 31-31 draw.
Bristol have high expectations following their promotion and Pat Lam's side have already made an impact in the Premiership. The Bears were backed by a crowd of more than 26,000 at Ashton Gate in their opener as they pulled off a 17-10 home win over Bath. Bristol also caused champions Saracens some early problems as they led at half-time before George Smith's controversial red card cost them as they were beaten 44-23 at Allianz Park.
Gloucester are overwhelming favourites for this match and the hosts should win but Bristol look worth backing in the handicap market. The Bears have already stunned Bath and were competitive against Sarries so there is no reason why they cannot make this a contest. With a 15-point head start, the visitors are worth siding with at Kingsholm.
Harlequins v Bath
Live on BT Sport 2
Quins can make home advantage count
Harlequins are rebuilding under new head of rugby Paul Gustard and the early signs are encouraging after several years of underachievement. Quins scored six tries in their opening 51-23 win at home to Sale. Gustard's side were also competitive last weekend although they were beaten 25-18 by Northampton at Franklin's Gardens.
Bath have been disappointing for several seasons with their lack of consistency scuppering any hopes of a top four finish. Todd Blackadder's side do not appear to be any closer to solving this issue after slipping up at newly-promoted Bristol. It looked successive defeats for Bath but the players at least showed some fight after recovering from an early deficit to draw against Gloucester in the West Country derby.
Harlequins look worth backing to deliver their second victory of the campaign. The last five clashes between the teams have all been won by the home side while Bath have only won one away match in the competition since January. Quins are not expected to run away with this match though and a bet on a win by up to 12 points offers potential value.
Wasps v Leicester
Live on BT Sport 1
Tigers can keep it close at Wasps
Wasps suffered their first defeat of the season last weekend after an entertaining 42-31 home defeat to Exeter. Dai Young's side led narrowly at the break but the Chiefs' ruthlessness ultimately put them away. Wasps won their opening game at Worcester but it is clear they are yet to hit top gear with the broken cheekbone to new flanker Brad Shields the latest in a series of injury setbacks.
It has been an eventful start to the season for Leicester already after the exit of head coach Matt O'Connor following their 40-6 drubbing at Exeter. Geordan Murphy has been given the opportunity to become their next permanent head coach and he had an instant impact as Leicester scored five tries in their 49-33 home win over Newcastle.
Wasps are marginal favourites for this clash but the hosts could find themselves challenged by a revitalised Tigers side. Murphy's appointment as interim boss had the desired effect on Leicester last week and this could easily extend into this weekend's match at the Ricoh Arena. Even if the visitors fall short of victory, the Tigers look siding with off a six-point handicap advantage.
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P/L 2018-19 season