It’s fair to say the opening weekends of this new Premiership Rugby season are proving quite a treat, with some thrilling rugby and feisty encounters.
Bath’s Semesa Rokoduguni was undoubtedly the star of Round 2 as his brace of tries in four minutes saw the West Country side go from behind to claim a stunning home victory against European Champions Saracens.
Meanwhile, there were strong outings for defending champions Exeter, Harlequins, Wasps and Northampton, who triumphed in the Midlands derby against Leicester.
Northampton Saints v Bath
19:45 15 September
There is a hive of activity this evening as Northampton Saints welcome in-form Bath to Franklin’s Gardens in the first of three Friday fixtures.
Northampton were deserving winners against Leicester Tigers last weekend, offering a much improved performance on their Round 1 display, but Bath look a different beast this season.
Defensive frailties a seeming distant memory as they held off Saracens last week, albeit with just 13 men, which does highlight discipline as an issue, but Todd Blackadder’s men are picking up a head of steam and will be difficult to thwart.
Our prediction: Bath win
Match odds: Northampton 7/10 Bath 11/10
Unibet pick: Bath @10/11
Worcester Warriors v Exeter Chiefs
19:45 15 September
Reigning Aviva Premiership kings Exeter travel to Sixways also on Friday evening, pitting themselves against a struggling Worcester Warriors.
With two defeats from two it is already lining up to be a treacherous season for the Warriors, who are the only club yet to register a point on the board.
Despite suffering defeat themselves in Round 1, Exeter produced a performance much more worthy of champions as they beat London Irish 37-7 and will be hunting another bonus point win tonight.
Sale Sharks v London Irish
20:00 15 September
Salford is host the final Friday evening fixture as Sale Sharks welcome London Irish to the north.
While Sale were tipped as one side who should be pushing for European rugby, Steve Diamond’s men are striving to get their season off the ground after back-to-back losses, while the Exiles turned plenty of head in Round 1.
Beating Harlequins at Twickenham on the opening weekend was a fine salvo from Irish, who head into this third round looking for a second triumph over a slovenly Sale outfit.
Leicester Tigers v Gloucester
15:00 16 September
Friday’s host of action means Saturday is relatively quiet, with just two games – the first of which coming from Welford Road as the faltering Leicester Tigers host Gloucester.
Given the blockbuster back line which now resides at Leicester, sitting 11th with just one point from two fixtures is poor by any standards and improvement is a must this time around on home soil.
Gloucester showed their intent with an opening round win over Exeter, but stuttered and displayed cracks aplenty in defeat to Harlequins last weekend and could well be found wanting against a fired up Tigers desperate to make amends.
Newcastle Falcons v Saracens
17:00 16 September
Saturday’s second offering comes from way over the pond as Newcastle Falcons and Saracens lock horns in Pennsylvania as Premiership Rugby aims to tap into the Stateside market and increase the appeal of rugby in America.
With two wins from two, the statistics would suggest Newcastle come into the clash as the form team, which would be fair as they have produced some stylish and effective rugby in the opening two rounds.
But losing to Bath last time out was a bitter pill to swallow for Saracens and Mark McCall’s men will bounce back with vengeance in the States – you can fully expect a try-scoring, roar-inducing display from the Wolfpack to down the Falcons.
Wasps v Harlequins
15:00 17 September
Sunday’s standalone fixture sees last season’s finalists Wasps welcome Harlequins to Coventry’s Ricoh Arena.
Wasps head into Round 3 at the top of the pile with nine points from two outings and once again look like the form side – flashy performance and plenty of points on the board from Day Young’s men, who show no signs of relenting.
Quins bounced back from Round 1 defeat with a win against Gloucester last time around, but the Londoners appear to be a side in transition somewhat and will struggle against a full-flowing Wasps onslaught.
Our prediction: Wasps win
Match odds: Wasps 1/9 Harlequins 11/2
Unibet pick: Wasps -14.5 @10/11