Newcastle v Bath
Both sides will feel they lost games that should have been won in the last round and will be aiming to bounce back in style. Bath travel with the consolation that after the installation of the artificial pitch, a Friday night fixture at Kingston Park in January is not quite the windswept, semi-Arctic nightmare it was. Falcons though are sitting pretty above the relegation battle and have Mark Wilson and Sonatane Takulua in top form. Marcus Watson, fresh from a storming try last week will hope to be fit for a potential showdown with his brother. Anthony The visitors will again be without Taulupe Faletau, after his latest injury proved worse than initially thought, and will be sweating on the fitness of the three props lost to HIAs against Exeter. However, with Ben Tapuai making a strong start for the club Bath have looked in good form despite recent results.
Ben – Newcastle by 2, Russ – Bath by 6, George – Newcastle by 5, Dougie – Newcastle by 7
Saturday 7th January
Gloucester v Worcester
Gloucester continue to make a Gloucester of their season, after throwing away a lead in Northampton last time out. Billy Burns continued his decent run at outside-half and will hope to bring more out of his talented backs. Worcester were much improved last week from the total omnishambles of their visit to Bristol. With Dean Hammond in try scoring form and Ryan Mills knocking over his share of kicks at goal they will hope for a first win on the road.
Ben – Glos by 9, Russ – Glos by 12, George – Glos by 12, Dougie – Glos by 5
Harlequins v Sale
Harlequins, whose home performance have been as good as their away form has been awful, welcome a Sale side currently going down in flames. Quins look set to be without Chris Robshaw and will expect Joe Marler to pick up his weekly yellow card, but with Joe Marchant running in the tries, will fancy their chances against visitors whose defence has at times this season looked as if is being coached by Allyson Pollock. Mike Haley and Denny Solomona have had their moments for Sale in attack and will hope they can help to out-score the hosts.
Ben – Quins by 20, Russ – Quins by 12, George – Quins by 28, Dougie – Quins by 10
Northampton v Bristol
Northampton continue to produce less entertainment than a drying demonstration at a paint factory but have been able to grind out enough results in the league to cling on to a European place. They will hope the returns of injury of George North and Harry Mallinder will provide some much needed creativity against a resurgent Bristol. The visitors are not the easy kill of old and are attempting an escape that would make the Planet Earth lizard proud. With a freshly potent back line including the Premiership’s new joint, all-time try scorer in Tom Varndell, they will be confident of at least matching the hosts for firepower.
Ben – Saints by 10, Russ – Bristol by 8, George – Bristol by 5, Dougie – Bristol by 3 (from the saints fan)
Saracens v Exeter
Saracens have not been at their best in recent weeks but continue to throttle their way to victory. Maro Itoje though, is back and has resumed duties as Alliaz Park’s resident superhuman. Jackson Wray also impressed last week but Saracens scrum was uncharacteristically bullied by the Leicester pack. Exeter were last seen tip-toeing out of the Rec with a win stashed in a sack marked ‘Swag’ and will go into the match with confidence high, although Jack Nowell may be unable to repeat his remarkable performance from last week if Rob Baxter decides not to risk his knee on the plastic pitch.
Ben – Saracens by 8, Russ – Saracens by 12, Geroge – Exeter by 1, Dougie – Saracens by 12
Sunday 8th January
Wasps v Leicester
Wasps enter the New Year sat happily at the top of the Premiership tree, Tommy Taylor and Matt Mullan will be aiming to maintain the form that has seen them called up to the England training squad and Christian Wade will have designs on continuing his free-scoring of recent weeks. Leicester, being now Cockerill-less, will hope they do not resemble headless chickens in this new local derby. Tigers at least have a decent performance to draw on having discomforted Saracens at Welford Road last time out. Mike Williams is raring to go after his latest arm injury and Freddie Burns continues to put in a decent shift at full back.
Ben – Wasps by 15, Russ – Wasps by 10, George – Wasps by 19, Dougie – Wasps by 13