Simon Mail previews the latest Premiership action including Saracens v Leicester and Gloucester v Exeter…
“Mark McCall's side were the only team to win all six pool games in the Champions Cup and Saracens have legitimate claims to repeat their domestic and European double from 2016.”
Chiefs generously priced to claim win
Gloucester v Exeter
Live on BT Sport 1
The Premiership resumes after a break of more than a month and league leaders Exeter Chiefs have a four-point advantage at the top. Rob Baxter's side have won ten of their 12 matches in the competition and look well-placed to return to Twickenham after reaching last season's final. Although the Chiefs are missing a number of England internationals such as Jack Nowell and Henry Slade, they can still select a strong side.
Exeter defeated Bristol 12-10 in the Premiership Rugby Cup at the end of last month so are well rested ahead of this match. After Exeter's defeat in Munster and their elimination from the Champions Cup, their sole focus will be on the Premiership and their place in the top two and a home semi-final looks all but assured once again.
Gloucester's form has dipped dramatically since the end of last year with the Cherry and Whites losing all four matches played in 2019 including a 52-0 thrashing by rivals Bath in the Premiership Rugby Cup in their last game. Gloucester are fourth in the league although they have lost their last two matches in the competition.
These two sides have already faced each other three times this season, two matches took place in Europe, with the away side winning on each occasion. The last match between the sides saw Exeter win 29-17 at Kingsholm and the visitors merit support at generous odds.
Gloucester are the narrowest of favourites but their poor recent form, losing their last three home games, suggests the Chiefs are an excellent bet to win.
Saracens too strong for Tigers
Saracens v Leicester
Live on BT Sport 1
Saracens are Exeter's closest challengers with the Premiership champions also winning ten of their 12 matches. The Men in Black are on course to compete for three trophies this season after reaching the Premiership Rugby Cup with a 38-22 semi-final win over Worcester last weekend. Attention turns back to the league this weekend though and the hosts are unbeaten at home since last February.
Mark McCall's side were the only team to win all six pool games in the Champions Cup and Saracens have legitimate claims to repeat their domestic and European double from 2016. Their only Premiership match of the calendar year ended in a 24-18 defeat at Sale but they are overwhelming favourites to claim another home win this weekend.
Leicester are languishing in seventh spot and the Tigers have plenty of work to do if they are to end the campaign in the top four. Geordan Murphy has a difficult job on his hands after taking charge permanently with results failing to improve significantly. Leicester lost 47-20 to Northampton at the end of last month in the Premiership Rugby Cup. Their only won of 2019 came at the start of January at home to Gloucester in the league.
Saracens' last home defeat came against Leicester a year ago but it is very difficult to see a repeat this weekend. Although they are missing plenty of internationals for the Six Nations, Saracens' squad depth is such that they can still name an impressive side featuring the likes of Alex Goode and David Strettle. Leicester will miss Jonny May and Manu Tuilagi badly and the hosts are backed to cover a 16-point handicap.
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P/L 2018-19 season