Rugby Union: Harlequins Look To Power On

Harlequins, the defending champions and confident of reaching the top four play-offs again, are in a decent run of form having won their last three Premiership games, all with maximum points.

A betting person would put money on Quins being successful at Ashton Gate even with a crowd of more than 15,000 shouting for the Bristol Bears.

The form of the home side has not been good as of late..only one win in their previous four Premiership games, but Director of Rugby, Pat Lam, knows his team have a solid record at Ashton Gate where they’ve lost just the once in any competition in 2022.

Having said that, Bristol lack consistency having thrown away at Bath last weekend a lead of 21-0 and ended up losing 29-27, and against Quins, Lam’s side need to show some sensible self-discipline because against Bath they were given three yellow cards.

Bristol’s chances have been boosted by the return of fly half Callum Sheedy who’s been released by Wales, and his class is required to inspire a team which is short of tries – 45 in 17 games.

By contrast, Quins, third in the table before Saturday’s matches on 58 points compared to Bristol(10th) on 34 points, have an attacking mentality which is producing a winning style – they’ve touched down 65 times and their defence is stronger than Bristol’s..letting in 45 tries whereas Bristol have conceded 61.

Punters should be aware that Harlequins stars, Cadan Murley, Danny Care and Andre Esterhuizen, are in top form as is utility back Tyrone Green.

Bristol & Saints needing wins urgently

The clash at Franklin’s Gardens sees Northampton and Wasps battling to move up the table, hoping their slim hopes of reaching the top four play-offs turn into reality.

The Saints have lost the knack of winning, and have been beaten by Gloucester, Exeter, Sale and Leicester Tigers, so on current form it would be something of a surprise if they were to win at home where, believe it or not, Northampton have won only once in any competition since October.

Hopes of reversing this trend have not been helped by the absence for the Wasps game of fly half, Dan Biggar, who captains Wales against France on Friday evening in Cardiff.

Northampton,8th in the league on 43 points with eight wins in 17 games, take on a Wasps team, one place below them and on the same number of points.

Both sides are evenly matched, and you’d expect a close contest with Wasps may be starting as favourites, only just, not only because Saints’ form is poor, but also because the Coventry club have enjoyed a week off.

They didn’t play in the last round, so should be fresh and will be keen to recover their form having lost their last two games against Bristol and Harlequins.

A crowd of about 15,000 will attend this Midlands derby whose outcome is difficult to forecast, and maybe it’s a matter of how much influence the rival Directors of Rugby, Chris Boyd, in his last season at Northampton, and Lee Blackett of Wasps, have on their squads.