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Aviva Premiership Final weekend

After a season of thrills and spills in the Aviva Premiership, we reach the conclusion of the regular season this week. All the matches kick off at 15.30 on Saturday and I am absolutely convinced that we shall see a proverbial ‘boatload’ of points.

Motivation is key on the last day on the season and happily enough, every single match apart from one has something resting on it in regards to the table. The exception is Bath v Gloucester which is the west-country derby; this more than makes up for its lack of other significance. This should make the games even more exciting. While the relegation battle is well and truly over (and has been for most of the season), the battle for top-4 and top-6 places (play-off and European Champions Cup qualification respectively) is still very much ON and there should be some fiery contests.

The odds for these matches are released on Friday from midday so please do check out my tipping profit, AW Rugby, where I shall post the tips. I’ve been in decent form of late with a 42.4% ROI so far.

 

Bath v Gloucester 

Motivations:

Bath sit in second place and cannot progress to first or be caught by third place. Ordinarily, I’d expect Bath to potentially rest some of their key players before the play offs. However, as this is the west-country derby I can’t see that happening. Gloucester are clear of relegation and cannot make the Champions Cup next year.

The Match:

Bath have been by far the better side this season and boast a very impressive home record. They’ve only actually lost once at home all season and this was to leaders Northampton. They were a little unfortunate last weekend not to beat Quins by more than the solitary point and it’s hard to see them losing this match.

Gloucester have been impressive when going forward in patches this season but consistently ill-disciplined and seem to lack the backbone to challenge for the top-4. This said, they’ve managed to string 4 wins in a row and this one could be closer than many think.

Betting Verdict:

This one will be close and I wouldn’t dissuade anyone from taking Bath to win it narrowly. However, the option for me is probably going to on the total points market. This one looks set to be high scoring with both sides wanting to impress fans without really having anything to play for.

 

Exeter v Sale 

Motivations:

Exeter need to win this match and by a large margin. They are contesting for the top-4 and currently sit level on points and wins with Saracens. They are ahead narrowly on points difference but this will undoubtedly change if (and when) Sarries put a large number on London Welsh. Sale need to win to have a chance of guaranteed European rugby (if they lose, they may have to win a play off game).

The Match:

This is a really interesting match and really one that both teams need to win. Exeter should win easily in the end; they simply have a stronger pack and a more controlled game.

Betting Verdict:

I think Exeter will win this by about 15 points in the end so the handicap may well be worth a play. However, this is another game I can see soaring over 50 points. Exeter will probably score 4 tries or more here while Sale will have to throw the ball around.

 

Leicester v Northampton 

Motivations:

Leicester need to win to guarantee their place in the top-4. Northampton have nothing to play for as they have secured top spot. I expect Northampton to rest a few key players even if this is a midlands derby.

The Match:

The added motivation for Leicester should see them through here. I don’t expect a particularly exciting game; it’s just not how Leicester have played this season. The Saints are a quality outfit and will be keen to keep Leicester out of the play-offs but home advantage should be telling.

Betting Verdict:

A narrow victory for Leicester looks the most likely result.

 

London Irish v Wasps 

Motivations:

Wasps need to win this to guarantee European rugby next season which is crucial for the club. Irish have nothing to play for.

The Match:

It’s very difficult to know what sort of Irish team will turn up. They’ll want to impress their home fans on the last day of the season but Wasps should prove too good for them. I cannot stress how important it is for Wasps as a club to get European rugby next season so I’m sure they’ll win this.

Betting Verdict:

Wasps should win by around 10-15 points. If the handicap is any lower than this, it is definitely worth taking.

 

London Welsh v Saracens 

Motivations:

Welsh are relegated and are playing for pride. They’ve actually played a lot better in recent weeks (albeit in a very negative style). Saracens, by contrast, absolutely need a win and by as big a margin as possible.

The Match:

This, like all of Welsh’s games this year, is a total mismatch and Saracens will win with ease. Their pack will be far too strong for Welsh and they should score 50. Welsh have been spirited in recent weeks but have never really looked like troubling the other side. With huge motivation for Sarries, this could be a cricket score inspite of improved displays by the minnows.

Betting Verdict:

Sarries will win by between 50 and 60 if not more. If the handicap is below this, snap it up. Another route you may want to go down is anytime tryscorer. Some of the Sarries pack will be big prices and maybe worth a go as they’ll use the driving maul a lot. If scrum-half Wigglesworth is above 2/1, that is worth a play.

 

Newcastle v Harlequins 

Motivations:

Newcastle have nothing to play for but Quins still have a very small chance of European rugby next year. They need to win by 4 tries and hope Sale take nothing.

The Match:

In what has been a very good season for Newcastle, I expect them to go all out and score some points. Quins need to attack to try and get their 4 tries and will probably edge this match. They played well against Bath last week and should provide Newcastle will too many threats out wide.

Betting Verdict:

While the match market is difficult to call and the bookies will probably have the Quins win at too short a price, I’ll be backing this one to be high scoring. Newcastle matches have consistently been high scoring this year and this should not change on the last day of the season. This game should hit 50, possibly more.

 

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