Sky Bet's Jordan Fiddes previews this weekend's Aviva Premiership action, fancying Bath to sink Saracens, Harlequins to edge it against Northampton and Leicester to ease past London Irish
By Jordan Fiddes - Twitter: @JordanFiddes85. Last Updated: December 21, 2012 5:23pm
Stephen Donald: Averaging a try in every three games in the Premiership
We are back on home turf this weekend as the Aviva Premiership returns and offers much more hope in the betting.
It can't come soon enough after the Heineken Cup shocks over the past few weeks.
Who could have predicted an Ospreys turnaround against Toulouse or Sale failing to register a point in Toulon?
Kicking off the turnaround for this weekend's Fiddes' Cent bets are Bath at home to Saracens.
Although the two teams are strides apart in the table, the home side are the smart money on Saturday.
Starting the week off at +2 on the handicap, Bath are now +1 and don't be surprised if the game at The Recreation Ground starts at scratch.
In this fixture last year, Sarries managed to grind out a 28-26 win, probably where the bookmakers got the +2 start for Bath.
As they say, a year is a long time in any sport, but since that game in 2011 Bath have a completely different look about them.
One of their main acquisitions has been New Zealander Stephen Donald from the Chiefs.
He is currently averaging a try in every three games in the Premiership and has seen a good rise in form in recent weeks, including a try in Bath's last Premiership outing against Leicester Tigers.
He is 4/1 to score anytime on Saturday and is the only tryscorer I will be looking at this weekend.
Forecasts show that there is due to be a downpour over the weekend and the bookmakers have already slashed the prices of 'No Tryscorer' in most of the Premiership fixtures.
You can get 8/1 for there to be no try in the game at the Recreation Ground.
One thing is for sure, it's likely to go to the wire.
In their previous five encounters, the biggest winning margin has been 11 points and that was in the Sarries' back yard.
At 'The Rec' this fixture has seen much smaller margins and for that reason, I am going for Bath to win by just 1-5 points at 9/2.
It's also unlikely to be high-scoring affair this year.
As previously mentioned, the weather is likely to play a part but Saracens are also currently bottom of the table for tries scored this season, crossing only nine time so far.
However, the old adage of winning games with a good defence certainly applies to the men from St Albans, as they have conceded the least amount of points in the Premiership.
Not raining points
Sky Bet odds
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The under 36.5 market is very appealing at 5/6, however this is likely to change come kick-off time due to the predicted rain.
In Saturday's other big game, Northampton welcome Harlequins to Franklin's Gardens.
Harlequins were comfortably beaten here last year but are the form team coming into this one.
The bookmakers make the Saints favourites pre-match but this is very tight as Harlequins get a +3 start.
Although I don't expect them to run away with it, I can certainly see the Quins taking the spoils here.
They are 11/8 to win the game and 9/4 to win both halves.
Coming into this, Harlequins do not only lead the table in terms of points, they also have the best offensive stats in the league.
They have already scored over 280 points and have received the elusive bonus point on five occasions.
With their two flying wingers, Tom Williams and Ugo Monye, both in the side this week, the Quins are likely to play with the flair we have seen in the opening 10 games.
For them to score a try as the opening play is 8/1, yet more appealing is Tom Williams crossing the whitewash first at 12/1.
One of the more experienced players in their squad, the Quins will be looking to give Williams the ball as much as possible on his return.
My final bet this weekend is Leicester Tigers to beat the bookies handicap of -5 away at struggling London Irish.
Leicester have the second best defence in this year's competition and they welcome back goal-kicker Toby Flood this week.
For Leicester to score the opening points with a penalty is 11/8 and that feels pretty safe to me.
Confidence is key in rugby and London Irish will surely be short on that front following a 47-3 thumping at the hands of Gloucester.
If they concede first, it will take a lot for them to come back, therefore I have lumped some of my money on the Tigers -11 on the 'Alternative Handicap' at 13/8.
A word from the Sky Bet trading room...
"We've taken plenty of money on Bath already, which is why we have cut the handicap to just -1.
"With Brad Barritt and Alex Goode rested for the Sarries, there are a few shrewd bets coming in for the home team.
"Gerrit-Jan van Velze is a popular bet with the Sky Bet traders to score anytime this week.
"The Northampton Saint will certainly be pumped up for this one against the Harlequins and is our tip to score anytime at 13/2."