Predictions: Premiership, PRO12, Top 14

Date published: December 30 2016

With a full slate of fixtures across Europe's top leagues over New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, it's time to see who will come out on top.

Irish derbies and a tricky trip to Welford Road for Saracens are among the standout fixtures this weekend.

Let's see who will come out on top.

PREMIERSHIP

Leicester Tigers v Saracens

Richard Cockerill's side need a response after that underwhelming effort away to Exeter over Christmas, when the Tigers were well beaten and as a result dropped directly out of the top four. As unconvincing as that performance was, much like the 38-0 drubbing Leicester took away to Munster, when it comes to playing at Welford Road only the best come away with a result.

Only Wasps have won there in the league all season, and on top of that Leicester won the battle between the two sides in last season's same fixture.

One win in the last five years away to Leicester is somewhat surprising given Saracens' dominance of the league, and even without George Kruis in the engine room this week due to injury, they seem well placed to end that run given Leicester's persistent injury problems out wide. The combination of Will Skelton and Maro Itoje will be worth watching. Saracens by five.

Other Premiership predictions: 

Newcastle Falcons v Wasps: Wasps by 10
Bath v Exeter Chiefs: Bath by 3
Sale Sharks v Bristol: Bristol by 3
Worcester Warriors v Harlequins: Harlequins by 9
Gloucester v Northampton Saints: Gloucester by 5


PRO12

Leinster v Ulster

Back to full strength after sending a weakened side to Thomond Park, Leinster will look to make up ground at the top of the PRO12. A win on New Year's Eve however will be far from simple, given Ulster head to Dublin with a strong XV including the selection of Ruan Pienaar at fly-half in a rare outing.

Andrew Trimble is a welcome returnee for Les Kiss in the back three since he was injured while on Ireland duty but upfront Ulster look on the back foot before kick-off, coming up against seven Irish internationals and without outstanding hooker Rory Best.

Home form tends to hold sway in this fixture, with Ulster's last victory coming at the RDS back in 2013, so it would be foolish to expect anything else, even with Charles Piutau capable of magic from full-back. Leinster by seven.

Other PRO12 predictions:

Zebre v Edinburgh: Edinburgh by 9
Treviso v Glasgow Warriors: Glasgow by 15
Connacht v Munster: Connacht by 6
Scarlets v Cardiff Blues: Scarlets by 7
Newport Gwent Dragons v Ospreys: Ospreys by 12


Top 14

Toulon v Racing 92

A re-match of last season's Top 14 final comes with defending champions Racing now just a point behind Toulon in the race for the top four, having spent a large part of the campaign getting their act together. Put their efforts into Europe to one side; Racing are still a major threat on their day with Juan Imhoff available.

With just one defeat in their last season Top 14 matches Racing head to the Stade Felix Mayol in good form – their last away result was a 23-23 draw away to high-flying La Rochelle – and the onus is on Toulon to respond to their 33-29 away defeat to Montpellier with a vital home win.

They dispatched Bordeaux-Bègles comfortably at home last time out but are also precariously positioned nine points behind leaders Clermont over halfway through the season. If they want a home semi-final, then games like this one on New Year's Day are vital. Toulon by six.

Other Top 14 predictions:

Lyon v Bordeaux-Bègles: UBB by 7
Pau v Montpellier: Montpellier by 8
Castres v Bayonne: Castres by 14
Stade Français v Brive: Stade by 6
Toulouse v Clermont Auvergne: Clermont by 3
La Rochelle v Grenoble: La Rochelle by 15

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