Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Europe preview: 3.1-3.3; Gallagher, Guinness and T14

Europe: Upcomes the Weekend - Gallagher Premiership, Guinness Pro14, Top14

Gallagher: 3.1-3.3; Round 15; 8 rounds remain; 40 potential points

Friday, 3.1:        
               Bristol Bears (26) v (40) Gloucester at Ashton Gate: Cherry-and-Whites roster Charlie Sharples, a flyer who has had the greatest success in the league finding the try zone thus far this season; Bears have not won in the English League since end of 2018; visitors are in 4th place, the last playoff spot, and hold that spot by a bonus-point and should like to remain within that extra time frame; they’ll be somewhat  heady from last week’s victory over Saracens at Barnet Copthall; this is a pick… could even be a draw; forecast is for some overcast and cool, so good rugby climate;

Saturday, 3.2:
               Bath (34) v (43) Harlequins at the Recreation Ground: home team will not have liked their loss to Saints last time out and will be seeking redress and redemption in front of the faithful at the Rec; Marcus Smith and the travelers field the hottest squad in the Premiership now on four consecutive successes, albeit versus the lower half of the seating chart; these are the matches the home team must win if playoffs be their goal; tick-tock; a surefire banger in Bath; chill and wet with wind might dictate play;
               Leicester Tigers (30) v (35) Wasps at Welford Road; getting to the point in the season when victory is imperative and an element of desperation may be detected; loser might not be cashing in their campaign chips, but they’ll certainly not have many left;

               Sale Sharks (33) v (57) Exeter Chiefs in AJ Bell at Salford City: this could be the upset of the weekend; Steve Diamond’s boys are in a void or be voided position; should Big Fish feast on the RugbyDay, they’ve only three road fixtures remaining, all against clubs currently below them on the chart; should they prove they can take down the top of the table in Sale, their prospects, while not rosy, yet will have a chance to bloom; that’s why this is the surprise M-o-W and could very well be a relative upset;

               Saracens (53) v (35) Northampton Saints in Allianz Park at Barnet Copthall: Saints are on two wins running, one a walloping of Sale one fortnight past, though both were home happies;  Corsairs are 1-2-0 last three, something to set the reigning champions teeth agnashing one should think; this could be a sleeper, but might be a bonus-point for homeys; bit of wind, temps in the 50s and good chance of rain… perfect forwards atmosphere;

Sunday, 3.3:
               Newcastle Falcons (17) v (26) Worcester Warriors at Kingston Park: clash between clubs at the far end of the table, where the servers seldom go; gonna be a good one, though, as each will be looking at this as a step out of relegation; cloudy with wind ahead of a predicted storm could affect the methods.

Guinness: 3.1-3.3; Round 17; 5 rounds remain; 25 Table Points on offer

Friday, 3.1:        
               Leinster (68) v (36) Cheetahs at the RDS: homeboys are better than four bonus-point wins than their near-chaser, Treviso; a win today seals the group for the Irish club; Fast Cats were looking formidable before they came above the equator two weeks ago; cold and windy with rain for kickoff;

Saturday, 3.2:
               Connacht (42) v (39) Ospreys at Galway Sportsground: two clubs just out of extra time frames just now; loser will have a very difficult path to playoffs, while winner could overtake Blues in third dependent on that colorful outcome; windy on the afternoon;

               Treviso (46) v (42) Edinburgh at Stadio Communal: hosts have not lost in the league since November; Edinburgh, have been woeful on the road, though they beat Glasgow over the holidays; visitors must be thinking that opportunity for extra time is fleeing, while homeboys are like: “Playoffs, why coitanly!”

               Scarlets (41) v (57) Munster at Parc y Scarlets: visitors on a win streak of eight while Scarlets have lost two-from-three recents; Scarlets are not out of the playoff picture by any stretch… being just three table points off Ulster’s third placement; a significant indication of intent to obtain extra time would be victory here today; rainy with wind will make things interesting;
               Zebre (18) v (56) Glasgow Warriors at Sergio Lanfranchi: could be a fiver for road Warriors or might be disaster if ps and qs aren’t minded; perfect weather with a slight breeze, temps in the 50s for first kick;

               Cardiff Blues (42) v (19) Southern Kings at the Arms Park: Blues are in the playoff frame now, but only just as they’re drawn with Connacht on points; Monarchs have not won in the Northern Hemisphere yet this year; gonna be rain and wind at match time;

Sunday, 3.3:
               Dragons (19) v (44) Ulster at Rodney Parade: visitors are in playoff position right now, but have Edinburgh and Scarlets on hand should they stumble; home team is locked with the Kings for last points; temps in the 40s, rain and some wind for kickoff; 

Top14: 3.2-3.3; Round 18; 9 rounds remain; 45 points

Saturday, 3.2:
               Racing 92 (41) v (51) La Rochelle at La Défense Arena: Racing will feel a win is crucial to their campaign because it is; they’ve dropped three in a row now and can ill-afford a fourth; their guests are in fourth now, but a loss will put their current playoff slot in jeopardy and that is why this is a Match of the Weekend; nevermind the weather as La Defénse wears a hat;

               Clermont (56) v (20) Grenoble at the Michelin: clubs are at opposite ends of the table and travelers are in one of two relegation stations; unlikely that visitors fortunes will improve today as their hosts were knocked from the ordering seat recently and would look to close the gap with league-leading Toulouse with a bonus-point win today;

               Montpellier (33) v (48) Bordeaux Bègles at Ernest Wallon: this and the rest of home team’s schedule will be for pride as, though they’re not out of the playoffs just yet, they’re surely headed in that direction; however, Bordeaux experience difficulties away from the Bay of Biscay having lost all but a pair in eight attempts; could be the sleeper of the weekend;

               Section Paloise (29) v (25) Agen at Stade du Hameau: excellent lower table tussle; travelers are on a two-win streak while their hosts have lost their last brace; weather is meant to be ideal with temps in the 60s, little wind and no precipitation;

               Lyon (52) v (45) Castres at the Matmut: gonna find out how real the visitor push for playoffs is here and now; homeys on a run of seven league victories while their opponents are only one draw to mar their last seven results; this’ll be goody… M-o-W;

Sunday, 3.3:
               Perpignan (2) v (33) Toulon at Aimé Giral: visitors season has not gone away entirely as a heroic finish could see them into extra time, but a loss here to one of the certain relegates will ruin that hope; it will be 60s, fine and dandy on the Mediterranean shores at Perpignan this Sunday;

               Stade Français (46) v (62) Toulouse at Jean-Bouin: home team is currently in the last playoff spot; visitors are better than a bonus-point victory in front of nearest chaser, Clermont, and have only lost once on the trot this season; Stade are coming off a huge win at La Rochelle last week; all of Toulouse’ Les Bleus players: Ntamack, Ramos, Huget and Mermoz featured in the runaway win over Stade at Toulouse first weekend in December and whether they suit up Sunday could be a factor.

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