The Premiership rolls on into the New Year and while some games may have been postponed due to the pandemic, there remains plenty to pique the interest this weekend.
Ashton Gate plays host to Friday’s sole action, while there are two games on both Saturday and Sunday.
Bristol Can Battle to Victory
Bristol enjoyed another decent month in December, winning three of their four games. The Bears currently sit third in the table and can improve on last season’s semi-final spot.
That being said, they will have their work cut out against the surprise package of the campaign thus far. Newcastle have beaten Bath, Sale and Wasps, while they were also awarded four points after their fixture against Leicester was called off.
In a jam-packed season, having a weekend off will have provided the Falcons with a rare chance for recovery, but they go up against a Bristol side with depth and quality all over the field.
Pat Lam’s men have also lost only three of their last 12 at home and are
1/4 for the victory.
Newcastle are not to be ignored, though, and there may well be some value in the
4/5 for the away side to finish inside their +9.5 handicap.
Chiefs to Lay Down a Marker
While Bristol and Newcastle are looking sharp, leaders Exeter appear imperious with the English and European champions taking four wins from as many Premiership games, all of which have been accompanied by bonus points.
The Chiefs have totalled an incredible 136 points in their quartet of outings and perhaps have the edge on Wasps, having beaten them 19-13 in October’s Twickenham Grand Final.
Exeter full-back Stuart Hogg is a doubt for the match, while the home team’s rampaging number eight Alfie Barbeary will miss the game with an ankle sprain which could require surgery.
Wasps boss Lee Blackett will challenge his side to repeat last term’s 46-5 win at the Ricoh but that result came against a somewhat scratch Chiefs side who already had one eye on the semi-finals.
Barring Hogg, Rob Baxter is expected to have most of his stars to select from and they can beat the -5.5 handicap at
Bath to Tame the Tigers
Finally, the pick of Sunday’s games looks set to come from Welford Road where old rivals Leicester host Bath.
The Tigers had their last gamed called off due to a coronavirus outbreak amongst their squad and will be keen to get their season up and running as they aim to avoid another battle with the drop.
Bath were awarded the points after their match with London Irish was unable to go ahead and that means both sides will be fresh heading into Sunday.
Stuart Hooper’s side won their last away game in the league, triumphing 33-17 at Worcester, a result that perhaps flattered the hosts, with the visitors having been 33-3 up on the hour.
Bath’s three-quarters are frightening, enough for someone as classy as Semesa Rokoduguni to have to settle for a bench spot this season, and they should thrive against a young Tigers’ back-line.
Considering they have won the last two meetings, the most recent of those coming in August when their pack bullied their way to a 38-16 victory, an away win is a decent price at
*All odds correct at time of writing.