Premiership predictions: George Chuter backs home teams and England snubs to shine

Jared Wright
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Premiership Round 12 predictions with George Chuter.

Former England, Saracens and Leicester Tigers hooker George Chuter sits down with Planet Rugby’s Jared Wright to offer his predictions for the upcoming round of Premiership action.

We have teamed up with eToro, the official investing and trading partner of Premiership Rugby, to launch a new feature that will see us get predictions from a famous face before every Premiership round for the remainder of the season.

And just to make it a bit more fun, we’ll be making our own predictions for each game and tracking our performance week-by-week to see whether we can outsmart our illustrious guests.

In Round 11 of the Premiership, we took on Nick Easter, and the former England back-rower nailed his predictions correctly, calling the winner in four of the five games, with Sale Sharks’ loss to Bristol being the outliner. It wasn’t happy predicting from Planet Rugby as we managed to get just two of the winners correct. Nick 4-1 Planet Rugby.

Next up, Chuter…

Harlequins (LWW) v Leicester Tigers (LWW)

This promises to be a tight battle at Twickenham Stoop, but Friday night games always tend to favour the home side.

The Tigers have looked alright in the Premiership this season, and they are more than capable of matching any team upfront; they have got enough firepower, but they are not on top form in terms of their attacking game. They play particularly well at home, but I just don’t think they pieced it all together yet on the road.

They have won a couple of games away from home in the Premiership, but I just don’t think they look that strong on the road, and on the flip side of that, Harlequins are very, very strong at the Stoop.

Head-to-head: At the time of writing, the teams are not confirmed, but we are certain that several England stars won’t be featuring this weekend, which denies the viewers a good fly-half between Marcus Smith and Handre Pollard. But the back-row battle will be key, as it is in most games, Leicester probably has the edge up front, but if Will Collier and Joe Marler are playing, then the scrum will be fairly equal, potentially Quins even being stronger. Even without Alex Dombrandt, Quins have got a pretty tasty back-row. If Tommy Reffell is playing, then he against Will Evans is a classic nuggety seven-over-the-ball battle, so that will be a great match-up.

One to watch: Louis Lynagh! Two fantastic tries last week against Ulster and genuinely has the potential to play for England in this Six Nations; Steve Borthwick needs to get him into the squad sooner rather than later and have him involved. Looking ahead to the next World Cup, he could be a perfect fit. He has got gas, and wherever he plays, he is scoring tries; he is physical, and he is still growing and getting bigger. The two tries last week were from different circumstances, so I’d like to see the same from him again.

Harlequins v Leicester Tigers predictions. Planet Rugby: 28-24 and George Chuter: 25-19

Northampton Saints (WWW) v Newcastle Falcons (LLL)

It’s top v bottom of the table and a return to the Premiership for Steve Diamond, who takes charge of Newcastle in his first league match since replacing Alex Codling.

It’s interesting, my old schoolmate Alex Codling is now gone and Newcastle rebound last weekend and beat Perpignan away from home, which is a very tough place to play regardless of how good or bad Perpignan are. So that dead cat bounce of getting a new coach coming in could still hang over until this week.

I don’t think that they will at Franklin’s Gardens, but it won’t be a cricket score. Diamond will come in, and he will have no trouble in getting across his view for the future and who will be involved and who will not. A lot of players will be on warnings, really, that if you are not going to get stuck in and play hard, then you don’t have a future here. He should get something out of that squad.

But to be honest, playing at Northampton, Saints are flying high at the moment, and they are full of confidence after their own great win at Munster, and they’re just playing a fantastic brand of rugby. Newcastle will not even get a bonus point, but they won’t roll over and die.

Head-to-head: The two wings, Ollie Sleightholme and Adam Radwan. Two exciting youngsters and Sleightholme grabbed a brilliant hat-trick a few weeks ago; he is another that I think England has to get involved in at some point just because he offers something different; he is young and enthusiastic and playing in a team that’s full of confidence. Radwan has been a fantastic broken-field runner for a long time.

One to watch: Quite easy if he is playing, Fin Smith. After the Munster game, people are rightfully singing his praises and saying he is the next best Smith at fly-half or maybe even better than the current Smith (Marcus). He looks like a fantastic player, very poised, and an old head experienced beyond his years. Meanwhile, Courtney Lawes is getting better and better, and England could do a lot worse than go back to the begging bowl and ask him for another year or two.

Northampton Saints v Newcastle Falcons predictions. Planet Rugby 39-12 and George Chuter 32-10

Bristol Bears (WLW) v Bath Rugby (WLW)

It’s always a bit tight with a West Country derby and again it looks like the home side should have the edge despite Bath’s fine form.

The Bears will be a bit sore after last week, having been dumped out of the Champions Cup, and Bath look a bit underpowered without their England stars, particularly after the extra two call-ups.

This should be one of the better games to watch this round, two teams that like to play a bit and throw it around, but I think probably without those England players, Bristol just have a bit of an edge.

Head to head: Two excellent hookers with completely different styles and approaches to the game with Bristol’s Harry Thacker and Bath’s Tom Dunn. Both do well in the loose and the tight, but Thacker is probably a bit more dynamic ball-carrying and link player, whereas Dunn is a bit more of an old-school hard carrier and clears out hard.

One to watch: A lot has been said about Kyle Sinckler over the last six months, and he chimed in on the Owen Farrell situation, and perhaps we will see more and more players take sabbaticals. But for now, he is actually on a bit of an enforced sabbatical from the England squad, and it will be interesting to see how he bounces back and what sort of character he’s got. Does he actually desperately want that place back? This is as good an opportunity as any at home against one of your biggest rivals.

Bristol v Bath prediction. Planet Rugby 25-22 and Chuter 28-21

Saracens (LWL) v Exeter Chiefs (WWL)

It’s a long trip for Exeter, and Saracens have been strong at home, and while Sarries aren’t quite the force they once were, maybe the news of Farrell leaving will galvanise the club to give him a proper send-off this season.

Saracens don’t need a lot of encouragement; they are a very professional team, and if Exeter don’t have all their internationals, I think it is more of a blow to them than the hosts.

Head to head: It will be interesting to see how Billy Vunipola reacts to his dropping as he is a different case to someone like Sinckler, as it might be the last chance to play for England. He is likely to go up against Jacques Vermeulen, two back-rows that play a similar type of game, physical and winning the gain line in the back-row is always crucial.

One to watch: Farrell is the ultimate professional, so I expect him to be business as usual this week. Although even the strongest blokes mentally can have a bit of a wandering mind when it comes to a massive announcement, and I’m sure he will be up to end on the right note as well, starting this weekend. He will be looking to pull the strings and make a statement of intent of what is going to happen at Sarries for the rest of the season.

Saracens v Exeter Chiefs prediction. Planet Rugby 30-20 and Chuter 20-11

Gloucester Rugby (LLL) v Sale Sharks (WLL)

Sale Sharks are struggling at the moment, and this is a great opportunity for Gloucester to get an important win in the Premiership.

Sale have missed the Du Preez twins, they look a little bit underpowered without those two and lack some edge and menace. They look a little bit lost up front and lack direction forward and Gloucester have got an opportunity there.

The Cherry and Whites are a much better team than they have shown in the last few weeks, and they are a different animal. I know Kingsholm isn’t the fortress it used to be, but they still have that fanatical support, and they have a good style of rugby to counter Sale’s.

There is much more on the line for Gloucester too; they can’t afford to keep this losing streak going much longer so they will have a bit more motivation.

Head to head: Another battle of the number eights with Zach Mercer and Josh Beaumont going toe-to-toe. These two guys have been on the periphery of England for a while. Beaumont is a bit further down the pecking order, but again, different players make it a good battle.

One to watch: I have a lot of time for George McGuigan, but I don’t know want more he has got to do to get into the England squad, to be honest. He has been so consistent for such a long time. He is a real force around the pitch, and I don’t know if he feels snubbed or if he has just come to accept that England won’t come calling for him, but I think he is a fantastic player.

Gloucester v Sale Sharks prediction. Planet Rugby 16-18 and Chuter 21-17.

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