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Below are the Algorithm’s predictions for the whole weekend.
Round 17 kicks off with on Friday night with the Midlands Derby between Leicester Tigers and the Northampton Saints.
The algorithm is giving the Tigers a 67.1% chance of winning this game which is most likely down to the fact they’re playing at home and they lead the head-to-head 7-3 in the last 10 games. The Rugby4Cast prediction is backing the Tigers to win a narrow game, by just five points, and this game looks likely to be settled either way by a few points. The Saints beat Saracens in the final of the Premiership Rugby Cup last weekend and will be buoyed by that heading into the derby.
March’s Tip: The bookies have given Leicester a -3 handicap for this one, which represents how tight it is likely to be. But given how below average these two sides have been this season, I like the look of both teams to score 20+ points and Tigers to win at 7/2. Leicester have won seven of the last 10 and both teams have scored 20+ points in this fixture in six of the last 10 games.
One of the three Saturday 3pm kick-offs is a 2nd vs 3rd matchup as second-placed Saracens host third-placed Harlequins at the Allianz Park.
Sarries have struggled over the Six Nations period and have lost two of their last three matches in the league. Harlequins, on the other hand, have thrived in the Six Nations period, winning three of their four games, which has seen them jump into the play-off picture. The international squad members are back this weekend, so you would still fancy Sarries for this one, and the algorithm is giving them a 92.7% chance of winning with a 17-point margin.
March’s Tip: Harlequins are one of the in-form sides in the league at the minute but their defeat to Gloucester last time out was one that will remind them how easy a winning run can end. Saracens have won the last three against Quins and the home side has won this fixture in seven of the last 10. My tip here is Saracens -8 on the handicap at EVENS.
A really big clash at the bottom of the table, this one, as Bristol Bears welcome second-bottom Worcester Warriors to Ashton Gate.
Both of these teams are similar in the sense that they have just one away win each in the league but are very strong sides at home. That is probably the reason Bristol are fancied to win this game and the algorithm supports that, giving them a 62.6% chance of winning but only by a three-point margin. Both teams average over 20 points in this fixture and everything points to a high-scoring affair. Worcester average the concession of 29.8 points in away matches this season, whilst Bristol concede 24.3 at home and with the exciting back-lines these two sides possess, this could be very entertaining.
March’s Tip: Like I have already said, both of these teams score plenty of tries but also leak plenty and given how important this game is for both side’s survival hopes, this will be a brilliant game for the neutral. Fancy both teams to score 20 points and there to be at least 44.5 match points here.
The last of the three o’clock kick-offs sees a struggling Wasps side travel to Gloucester, where the hosts are looking to maintain their position in the top 4.
Gloucester still have a decent cushion over Sale Sharks, who sit a place below them in fifth, but this will be a game they should be winning if they have ambitions of winning the title this year. Wasps have struggled on and off the pitch this season and it has been a very frustrating campaign for Dai Young’s men. The algorithm has given Gloucester a 62.4% chance of winning the game by a six-point margin. The internationals are back for Wasps, which should help their cause, but this Gloucester team are dangerous all over the pitch and are very difficult to beat at home.
March’s Tip: Gloucester should have too much for Wasps here, but I do expect it to be tight. Gloucester have lost just twice at home this season and Wasps have struggled to pick up wins away from home, so my tip here is for Gloucester to win by 6-10 points at 9/2.
Bottom of the league Newcastle host Sale Sharks this weekend at St James Park in ‘The Big One’, as the Falcons look to move off the foot of the table, whilst Sale look to keep their play-off hopes alive.
Sale have, arguably, been one of the surprise packages this season in the league and are just seven points away from fourth placed Gloucester. If they could win here, their chances would be increased, but they are coming up against a side that are scrapping for their lives and desperately need a win themselves. Newcastle have been unlucky in a lot of their games this season and at home, they are a different animal. The algorithm actually has Newcastle winning this game by the solitary point and the big crowd expected could play a large role here. The algorithm is giving Newcastle and Sale pretty much even chances to win and it looks a very tough one to call.
March’s Tip: Sale have been very impressive this season and I don’t think you would ever want to oppose them in a fixture. The bookies cannot split either side here as well so I am struggling for something here. I do not think it would be a bad bet to have a go on the draw, which is around 20/1. A longshot of the weekend for me.
The final game of the weekend provides us with top of the table Exeter Chiefs’ home game against play-off chasing Bath.
Exeter have been the most consistent side in the league this season and even during the Six Nations break, they have managed to continue winning. They have lost just three times this season and are unbeaten at home, averaging almost 30 points a game in the league. As for Bath, they are another of the sides that have been too inconsistent this season to maintain a top 4 place but are still just seven points away from Gloucester in fourth, but a win would be needed here to keep up with the pack. They have only won two away games all season, so even with their internationals back, it looks a tall order to be the first team this season to win at Sandy Park. The algorithm is giving the Chiefs a 82.4% chance of winning, with a 13 point margin of victory.
March’s Tip: Think this is actually one of the easier games to call this weekend and I do fancy Exeter to have far too much for Bath. Bookies are giving Exeter a -12 handicap and I would be taking that at about EVENS with most companies.