Sky Bet's Jordan Fiddes outlines where his money's going ahead of the weekend's penultimate Premiership fixtures
By Jordan Fiddes - Twitter: @SkyJordanFiddes. Last Updated: 27/04/13 9:29am
It's a good time to face the league leaders for Gloucester
It's the penultimate round in the Aviva Premiership and, barring any major upsets, the home semi-finals are set in stone.
With that in mind, I'm expecting Saracens to struggle against Gloucester this weekend.
The Cherry-and-Whites are the only side left with any realistic chance of climbing into the play-offs, with a win needed to enhance their slim hopes.
Although they are facing the current league leaders, Gloucester have an excellent record at their home ground of Kingsholm.
They have only lost one game in their last nine at home, a narrow 12-18 defeat against London Irish, and have only lost twice at home to Saracens in Aviva Premiership history.
Although it will still be a tough task to beat Sarries, there is great value to be had in the handicap market.
Saturday's defeat at Sale was the only away game that Gloucester have been comprehensively beaten in and with the Heineken Cup semi-final on the horizon for the Sarries, I expect them to either win or lose narrowly.
They will be desperate for a bonus point to climb into the play-offs come the end of the season so expect more flair than last week from the Gloucester side.
Saracens are likely to rest a few key men and have one eye on the game next week against Toulon.
They have already guaranteed a home tie in the play-off semi-final this year and have won their last six in the Aviva Premiership, so can be excused for taking their foot off the gas.
Can Dwayne Peel continue his good form this weekend?
Backing the form guide
One team who have firmly put their foot on the accelerator in recent weeks is Sale Sharks, who head to Northampton unbeaten in their last three Aviva Premiership outings.
Their 32-9 victory over Gloucester last weekend was the highlight of round 20 as they ran in five tries in a glittering performance.
It's a much sterner test at Franklin's Gardens this weekend however as they have only beaten the Saints once in their last eight meetings.
They have been given a massive 16 href='http://www.skybet.com/rugby-union?aff=9717&dcmp=ss_betlink_FIDDESCENTRU' target='_blank' class='instorylink'>16 point start for this one and at 10/11 that's good value.
In 32 games between these two sides in the Premiership, Northampton have only won two more.
The Sharks have only lost by 16 points or more on six occasions in the Premiership this year, yet Northampton have only won by more than 16 three times and just twice at home.
Dwayne Peel produced a man-of-the-match performance last week and will be looking to continue that form in front of the Sky Sports cameras this time out.
The scrum-half has scored two tries in just 11 appearances this year and had a hand in over 75 per cent of the tries scored by Sale while he has been on the field.
I expect Sale to lose this weekend but with the Lancashire side in fine form, it will take a monumental effort by Northampton to win by 17 points or more.
View from the Sky Bet trading room...
"Gloucester have proved the most popular bet this weekend, not just on the handicap but outright at 11/10.
"The value in this one will depend entirely on the team news from Saracens as they prepare for their important Heineken Cup game.
"They are +3 at the moment but it could well be scratch come 3pm on Saturday.
"Leicester are the other favourite with the Sky Bet punters this weekend.