The Premiership returns this weekend and Simon Mail previews televised matches including Exeter's trip to Leicester...
"Leicester have been second best in recent games against Exeter with just one win in the last six Premiership meetings and the Chiefs should be too strong again this weekend."
Gloucester v Worcester
Live on BT Sport 2
Cherry and Whites to claim victory
Gloucester reached the Premiership semi-finals last season but the Cherry and Whites are seventh after an indifferent start to this campaign. Johan Ackermann's side have only won two of their opening five league matches with three consecutive Premiership defeats. Gloucester lost 27-24 to Connacht in Europe last week but have restored key players such as Danny Cipriani to the side, while scrum-half Willi Heinz has recovered from a hamstring injury.
Worcester are enjoying an impressive run in the competition, sitting fourth in the table, after winning three matches. The Warriors defeated Sale and Harlequins in their most recent league outings with Alan Solomons' side holding their own. Worcester were beaten 25-16 at the Dragons in the Challenge Cup last week but their priority is on domestic progress this season.
Ambitions for Gloucester are much higher than Worcester and the hosts will be under pressure to climb up the standings after a poor run of one win in their last seven games in all competitions. The last five clashes between the teams have all been won by the home side and Gloucester can justify favouritism by securing a victory at Kingsholm. Three of Worcester's four defeats this season have been by under 12 points and the Cherry and Whites are fancied to edge past them.
Chiefs to overcome Tigers at Welford Road
Leicester v Exeter
Live on BT Sport 2
Leicester have struggled in the Premiership this season and are only kept off the bottom of the table due to Saracens' points penalty. The Tigers have underachieved in recent years and will face a tough winter if they do not add to their solitary league win from five matches. Leicester won 20-13 at Calvisano in the Challenge Cup last week but their domestic form is a major concern with the club in a precarious position.
Exeter have no such problems and last season's finalists look the team to beat with champions Saracens stranded at the bottom. The Chiefs have won five successive games in all competitions with success in Europe and the Premiership a distinct possibility. Rob Baxter has selected a strong team for the game at Welford Road, with Henry Slade and Stuart Hogg leading the backline.
Leicester have been second best in recent games against Exeter with just one win in the last six Premiership meetings and the Chiefs should be too strong again this weekend. Exeter bring momentum into the game, after their recent winning run, with the club challenging for the title on a consistent basis. The visitors should have too much quality for their opponents and appeal to cover a two-point handicap.
London Irish to add to Bath's problems
London Irish v Bath
Live on BT Sport 1
Newly-promoted London Irish have made a strong start to life back in the Premiership with the team sixth with almost a quarter of the season played. The Exiles claimed a thumping 36-11 home win against Leicester last month and also pulled off a victory at Wasps. London Irish come in off back-to-back losses to Toulon in the Challenge Cup but their focus is rightly on remaining in the top flight.
Bath are on a miserable run of five successive defeats in all competitions with confidence draining from the team. Sitting ninth in the Premiership, Bath do not appear capable of challenging for the top four and could be heading for another disappointing campaign. Bath conceded eight tries last weekend in their 52-26 defeat at Clermont Auvergne in Europe.
The betting suggests this is an evenly-matched contest but London Irish look worth backing to increase Bath's problems. Their five-match losing run shows no signs of ending and a poor away record makes them hard to trust at Madejski Stadium. London Irish can continue their encouraging start by covering a one-point handicap.
Follow Simon's bets on Twitter @watfordtipster
P/L 2019-20 season