AVIVA Premiership Weekend Fixtures: 23-25 February - Round 16
With the league season now approximately two-thirds complete, this is a critical stage for those in contention for play-off or Champions Cup places, not to mention relegation to the Championship. Three of the biggest games of the weekend are previewed here.
London Irish v Worcester Warriors Sunday 18th February, kick-off @ 1300hrs
The first-day victory over Harlequins has proved to be something of a false dawn for newly-promoted Irish, followed as it has been by 14 successive league defeats. Worcester are just one place above Irish, but they have won 5 times, including their last two, away at champions Exeter and at home to play-off contenders Gloucester. If Irish are to retain any hope of staying up, a win on Sunday is essential.Irish have shown good form at times this season, but have not been able to maintain it for the full 80 minutes. Last weekend's second-half capitulation against Northampton was a case in point. Irish will be hoping to bring 8-try top scorer Alex Lewington into the game as much as possible, but they will be particularly aiming to minimise the number of defensive errors and lapses in concentration which have cost them dearly so far this season. A few weeks ago, the match at the Madejski against Irish would have looked like a massive relegation decider for the Warriors, but, following recent results, they will be more focused on moving further up the table. The Premiership's leading try-scorer Josh Adams should be available after being left out of the Wales team for this weekend, and Worcester should also have lock Will Spencer available after illness, and scrum-half Francois Hougaard back from injury. Overall, the Warriors must be favourites, but Irish will be playing for pride and should not be underestimated. Gloucester Rugby v Wasps - Saturday 24th February, kick-off @ 1430hrs Both of these teams currently sit in the play-off spots, but Gloucester are six points behind Wasps and will be looking over their shoulders at the chasing pack, particularly following their defeat at Worcester. Crucially, Wasps are currently decimated by injuries and international call-ups, although they hope to have Danny Cipriani available following the injury sustained against Exeter. They will hope that a strong team spirit, allied with the skills of the prolific Jimmy Gopperth, Cipriani and the mercurial Christian Wade, will be enough to carry them through. Gloucester also have injury concerns, but they will have Matt Scott back from Scotland duty and hope to welcome Tom Marshall, David Halaifonua and Charlie Sharples back from injury. Gloucester's chief try-scoring threat should come from Henry Trinder, in the absence of top scorer Olli Thorley. Injuries and unavailability make this match tough to call, but home advantage may swing it in Gloucester's favour. Bath Rugby v Sale Sharks - Saturday 24th February, kick-off @ 1430hrs Bath sit just one point outside the play-offs, with the Sharks four points further back. Both lost their last game, Sale at home to league leaders Saracens, and Bath away to fellow play-off contenders Newcastle in a performance that Director of Rugby Todd Blackadder labelled 'pathetic'. Bath have four players on England duty, whilst the Sharks will lose two players to international call-ups. Sale are renowned for their powerful pack, but their principal try-scoring threat is likely to come from former England winger Marland Yarde. Bath will be without leading try-scorers Rokoduguni and Banahan due to injury but will be pleased to welcome back Taulupe Faletau, who has been released by Wales, at number 8. This should be another close match, but, if Blackadder can get a reaction to last week's disappointment, Bath might just edge it.
Round 16 Remaining Fixtures:
Saturday 24th February
Sunday 25th February, kick-off @ 1530hrs
Below you will find some of the markets and offers available to your from the leading Rugby Online Bookmakers.
Get great rugby union betting odds at 10Bet and also enjoy many exclusive bonus offers and promotions.
There are plenty of rugby betting opportunities for punters at bwin, they offer great online rugby betting odds on the Aviva Premiership, plus they also have live rugby betting for all major games too.
Bet types at bwin include - which team will score the first try, which team will be ahead at half-time, which team will be the first to score 10 points, what the match handicap will be and the first player that will score a try
Aviva Premiership Markets:
All the latest Aviva Premiership odds and markets including Handicap betting, match betting, No Draw Handicaps, No Draw Handicaps, Total Match Points, 10 Point Margins, Alternative Handicap and Half-Time/Full-Time. You will also find bonuses and enhanced odds at this online bookmaker.