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Basement boys clash
Will Leeds gain first win of the season at Newcastle?
Posted Dec 23, 2010 by Jeff Dawson
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So we’ve taken a look at one of the stand-out fixtures of the Aviva Premiership Christmas fixtures and we think Bath will beat Exeter on Boxing Day, but what about the rest?
Well Sunday will give us an indication of whether Leeds Carnegie are turning a corner in their season as they face the team directly above them, Newcastle Falcons.Newcastle, who host this fixture, have struggled this season but they face a team that is yet to win in the league. The Falcons beat Gloucester a few weeks ago at home and they will be hoping to maintain this level of performance against the basement boys.
Leeds, meanwhile, have endured a miserable campaign to date with nine losses from nine matches but they have shown signs of improvement with wins in Europe over recent weeks. Their players are starting to feel as if they are getting an edge back to their game and they are confident they can avoid the drop this season, although at present, that looks like a massive, massive task.
This will be a tight match with neither side wanting to give anything away and expect the defences to be on top throughout. I’m going to go with a Leeds win, their first of the season and something for their fans to cheer at Christmas.
Completing Sunday’s fixtures is the match between Saracens and Wasps at Wembley, a game where we are likely to see the return of Gavin Henson to professional rugby.Saracens have flown up the table in recent weeks and currently sit third whilst Wasps are in the Hunt for a play-off spot as they sit fifth. Both teams like to attack and I think the Sarries will have the edge in this one, winning by around 10 points.
On Monday, we are blessed with two fixtures, Harlequins against London Irish and Leicester vs Sale.The Quins will be looking to take advantage of the Exiles poor form as they have fallen from top spot to fourth with four successive defeats.
It hasn’t been a great year for the Quins either so far with just three wins to their name from their 10 fixtures but they are good going forward and I expect them to pose the Irish all sorts of problems. Harlequins to win this one for me in what will be a game full of points and action.
And finally we have the Tigers entertaining the Sharks. At Welford Road, second placed Leicester will be looking to close the gap on the league leaders Northampton and put some distance between themselves and the rest of the pack. I can only see a Tigers win and I believe it will be by some distance. The Tigers attack has been in fine form, scoring the most points in the division to date and expect this to continue.