The MaulOver podcast boys share their predictions for the weekends games with us… do you agree?
Friday 18th November
Bath v Bristol (19.45)
Last week’s cup clash saw a few green shoots of recovery at Ashton Gate. The visit of their detested local rivals should bring the best out of a Bristol side, buoyed by the debut performance of centre Jason Woodward. However Bath are in fine league form and are expecting to welcome back the class of Toby Faletau from injury. Even without their absent internationals, Bath should have enough to crush those green shoots mercilessly into the dirt.
Ben – Bath by 12 , Russ – Bath by 16, Phil –Bath by 10 , George- Bristol by 6
Worcester v Northampton (19.45)
On the face of it an away win, but Northampton are missing their international stars and Saints without Louis Picamoles and George North lack the team’s only creative sparks so far this season. Until their return watching Saints with the ball promises be as enjoyable as sharing a gold plated lift with Nigel Farage. Worcester on the other hand have had no problems scoring, it has been keeping the opposition out where they have had issues, the home side may have enough firepower to sneak a close one.
Ben – Worcester by 2, Russ – Saints by 7, Phil – Saints by 12, George- Saints by 10
Newcastle v Exeter (20.00)
An intriguing one at Kingston Park, Dean Richards’ happy demeanour has inspired his eclectic squad to several impressive home wins this season and injury-hit Exeter have not been themselves since the summer. The Devon side though are coming off the back of a fine win against Cardiff in which Michele Campagnaro finally got off the mark for the club and will hope to maintain their momentum.
Ben – Exeter by 6, Russ – Exeter by 8, Phil – Exeter by 4 , George- Exeter by 8
Saturday 19th November
Gloucester v Wasps (16.30)
International call-ups will leave Wasps with only 407 big-name signings for their trip to Kingsholm, but Jimmy Gopperth, slowly completing his transformation from Danny Dyer to Danny Carter, will still be around to run the show for the London Coventry based unit. Gloucester meanwhile will be without Greig Laidlaw at nine and with either the inexperience of Billy Burns or the crackpot talents of Billy Twelvetrees at fly-half will no doubt continue to be wildly inconsistent from one-minute to the next
Ben – Wasps by 12, Russ – Wasps by 9, Phil – Wasps by 18, George- Wasps by 10
Italy v South Africa (14.00)
With Eben Etzebeth ruled out and unable to bring his own brand of barely reigned-in aggression, South Africa will hope Pierre Steph du Toit wll have stopped looking for Ben Youngs in time to run out for them on Saturday afternoon. Italy, fresh from a prison-shaming by an experimental All Blacks side last week, will expect moments of genius from Sergio Parisse and an earnest battering against a green brick wall from the rest of the team. The Springboks seething after a poor year and a thorough beating from England will be in no mood to be the punch-line in another upset.
Ben – South Africa by 26, Russ – SA by 14, Phil – SA by 10 George- SA by 18
England v Fiji (14.30)
With his England side unbeaten all year Eddie Jones looks set to make minimal changes for the clash with the talented Fijians. The comparative set piece strength of the English should see them comfortable winners. However, with Semesa Rokoduguni set for a return on the wing up against the outrageously skilled Fijian outside backs, expect at least one all-time classic try for the You Tube highlight reels.
Ben – England by 16, Russ – Eng by 12, Phil – Eng by 22, George- England by 26
Wales v Japan (14.30)
Wales should be confident going into this encounter, with a number of familiar faces missing from that unforgettable afternoon in Brighton, the Japanese are coming off a comprehensive defeat to Argentina, who were in turn beaten in Cardiff last week. Wales showed an improvement in that fixture from the best forgotten pasting by Australia and may choose to try out a few new combinations this week, with a debut for exciting young winger Keelan Giles being a particularly intriguing prospect.
Ben – Wales by 22 , Russ – Wales by 22, Phil, Wales by 5, George- Wales by 19
Scotland v Argentina (17.00)
Both sides will be disappointed not to have won tight fixtures last week. Scotland have shown a marked improvement all season with their young backs impressing and will be narrow favourites at home against the all action, all offloading, all dropping Pumas. Argentina though have impressed in patches in the Rugby Championship and if they can cut out the little errors they will be in contention right to the final whistle.
Ben – Scotland by 4, Russ – Sco by 9, George Draw
Ireland v New Zealand (17.30)
The home side will come into this clash fresh from the best performance in the history of Irish rugby, they will hope for a repeat performance including the fierce defence, accurate kicking and set piece dominance of two weeks ago. However there is a big All-Black cloud on the horizon, the Kiwis have not lost two games in a fortnight since 2007 and will react furiously to the loss of their unbeaten record. The return of Brodie Retallick in the New Zealand pack should counter some of the lineout problems we saw in Chicago and the Irish should expect to be at the centre of a storm in Dublin.
Ben – New Zealand by 21, Russ – NZ by 12, Phil – Ire by 23 George- NZ by 3
France v Australia (20.00)
Australia have produced one superb and one less than superb performance in the two games of the tour so far, but with Bernard Foley, David Pocock and Bernard Foley showing signs of a return to form the Wallabies seem to be a team on the up. France demolished Samoa last week and introduced the novelty of a 9-10 partnership featuring two players in form. Could this be signs of a French revival or just their customary one decent performance of the season?
Ben – France by 5, Russ – Aus by 6, Phil – France by 5, George- Aus by 10
Sunday 20th November
Sale v Saracens (13.00)
Saracens will be without a host of international stars, both playing for their countries and sitting out injured, but the tried and tested formula will be in place against a Sale side that have not lived up to the expectations generated by last season’s fine league finish. Sale can be a tough prospect in the heady atmosphere of the AJ Bell stadium but Saracen’s talented back-up crew should still have the edge in a close encounter.
Ben – Saracens by 5, Russ – Sarries by 10, Phil – Sarries by 8, George- Sarries by 12
Leicester v Harlequins (15.15)
Two sides who have largely frustrated so far this season. Harlequins, despite some fine home victories have struggled badly away from home and travel to Welford Road to face a Tigers team that have scored freely but conceded with equal alacrity. With Harlequins hard hit as ever by international call-ups they may be unable to take full advantage of any defensive lapses so a comparatively full-strength Leicester should fancy their chances.
Ben – Leicester by 12, Russ – Leicester by 8, Phil – Leicester by 2, George- Leicester by 4