Jordan Fiddes looks to build on last weekend's treble triumph with some more handicap hopes in the Aviva Premiership...
By Jordan Fiddes - Twitter: @JordanFiddes85. Last Updated: January 5, 2013 2:00pm
Saracens: Backed to cruise to victory against Sale on Sunday
The Aviva Premiership is beginning to take shape with the leading pack pulling clear and, although it may be tight at the top, the pre-season favourites are finally proving the bookies right.
Sky Bet's pre-season favourites Leicester, Saracens (both 8/5) and Harlequins (2/1) put some distance between themselves and the rest of the table last week and look to be in a three-horse race for the title.
This makes life a little easier when making the week-to-week predictions too, so there is no excuse for us not to get a clean sweep again this week.
The three forecasts on the handicap in Round 12, Wasps, Leicester and Harlequins, would have worked out at over 5/1 as a treble so, going by the old premise of 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it', I'll be looking at three handicaps again with a few side-bets as well.
Saracens are huge favourites at home to Sale at 1/10 and also have a 15-point start on the handicap.
Skipper Steve Borthwick returns for Sarries and this bodes well as they have only lost 17 of their 73 games with him in the side.
With Sale languishing at the foot of the table and having not won a game away from home in the league since December 2011, they face an uphill struggle to say the least.
On the plus side for the Sharks, they did double their Premiership victory total to two by beating Worcester last time out.
All the pressure will be on Saracens, but the same could be said every week and they have only lost twice this season. Therefore, the first addition to this week's accumulator is Saracens on the 'Alternative Handicap' of -21 at 6/4.
With Saracens top of the defensive charts and Sale bottom of the offensive stats, I could see Sarries walking away with this at Vicarage Road.
Next up are the team who we were successful with on the 'Alternative Handicap' last week - London Wasps, who are at home to Bath.
The Wasps ran out emphatic 34-15 winners at London Welsh and the roll could finally be on for the Adams Park side.
Wasps have won all their home games this season and also managed a narrow win at The Rec against the same opponents in September.
Sky Bet odds
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Bath will be no pushovers, however, and have an excellent defensive record in the Aviva Premiership.
In the 2011/12 season Bath conceded the least amount of points for any club outside the top four and are on course for a similar record again this season.
Therefore, I am predicting a low scoring game in this one and using the low handicap given by the bookies on Wasps.
So, the second accumulator addition is Wasps -6 at 10/11.
As a side bet, Kyle Eastmond of Bath is 7/2 to score anytime in this one. Having only started 12 games since his move from rugby league, he has scored three tries in the Premiership.
In a low scoring game, speed and agility could prove vital and the Bath centre undoubtedly has that in abundance.
Finally, I am going for another London club to beat the handicap on Sunday.
The -9 given to top-of-the-table Harlequins away at London Welsh this weekend is easily beatable, so I'll be looking for a bit more value elsewhere.
Not only are the Quins top of the tree on points, they have also scored more tries and more points than anyone else in the country.
Contrary to this London Welsh lie in the bottom three for all defensive and attacking statistics this season, so a big win is on the cards for the Twickenham Stoop club.
Therefore, to complete your accumulator this week, add Harlequins -12 at 11/10 to your selections.
As the outside bet, Sam Smith to score the first try at 8/1 looks great value, having scored four tries from his 18 starts for the Quins.
This week, he has two centres inside him, Jordan Turner-Hall and George Lowe, who are renowned for passing wide, so expect to see Smith getting his hands on the ball at every available opportunity.
A word from the Sky Bet trading room...
"We have a lot of favourites facing lower league opposition this week so we have some large handicaps on offer.
"Saracens are very popular early on at -15 so that handicap could be larger come kick-off time.
"Tom Varndell has once again proved popular on the try-scorer market, especially after scoring last week. However, the returning Chris Wade for Wasps is the most popular in that market at 8/1.
"In saying that, plenty of punters seem to be expecting an upset at Wasps with Bath well backed at +6."