As many would have predicted, after three weekends of Aviva Premiership action, the quartet of Saracens, Leicester, Northampton and Harlequins already occupy the four play-off places – as they have done in each of the last two regular seasons.
However, it is possible to separate the four in favour of Saracens and Leicester.
2011 champions Saracens hold the only unbeaten record after three fixtures – each capped with a bonus point – though it should be noted that they have not as yet played any sides expected to challenge for honours. However, the emphatic nature of their early performances is what makes their odds of 2/1 to win the Grand Final particularly appealing.
Mark McCall’s side are 13/8 to win the regular season – a feat they achieved last term – and given the likelihood of their being dominant at Allianz Park, where they remain unbeaten in the regular season, they are worthy favourites.
Leicester, also 2/1 to win at Twickenham, have competed in every Grand Final since 2005, and for that alone warrant serious consideration. However, they haven’t beaten the north London side in three meetings, including a league defeat at Welford Road last term.
Northampton have an unfavourable record against Midlands-rivals Leicester, losing all their last eight encounters, and have dropped three of their last four with Sarries; they are consequently hard to back at 7/2, though few would deny their upward mobility following the signings of Alex Corbisiero and George North.
Harlequins were dealt a comprehensive defeat to Leicester in last season’s semi-final, and have lost seven of their last eight clashes with Saracens.
At the foot of the table there have been particularly inauspicious starts for Worcester, who only narrowly escaped relegation last term, and Newcastle. They will console themselves on the basis that they have come up against both Leicester and Harlequins so far, and the fact that they haven’t suffered defeat to Newcastle since 2008.
Their rivals for the wooden spoon would appear to be newly-promoted Newcastle, who have amassed a paltry 21 points after their opening three games. Both are currently 2/1 to suffer relegation to Division One, but the Falcons will be especially wary of the fact that they haven’t beaten Worcester since 2008.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing
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