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Wednesday, 19 December, 2018

Leicester set for unhappy season-ending at Sale

Depleted Newcastle look vulnerable to Wasps' sting

Newcastle claimed a last-gasp victory at Leicester last week
1 of 1

Newcastle v Wasps
BT Sport 2, 4pm Saturday
Sale v Leicester
BT Sport 3, 4pm Saturday

The final round of Premiership action is missing a little of its edge this year with most of the key issues already wrapped up.

The top four are untouchable, London Irish are cut adrift at the bottom, and while Newcastle and Wasps meet in front of the BT Sport cameras to decide who comes third and fourth, the only impact that will have is whether they have to travel to Exeter or Saracens in the semis, with both equally onerous prospects.

Sale against Leicester, the other live BT offering, should be more of a full-on contest with Champions Cup places at stake.

A single bonus point should be enough for fifth-placed Leicester, but the Tigers have looked all at sea as they blew their playoff chances with back-to-back home defeats to Northampton and Newcastle. The Tigers have also been hit by an injury to centre Matt Toomua, one of their best performers in recent weeks.

Both clubs have lost two on the spin but Sale's schedule has been far tougher - their defeat at table-toppers Exeter last week was only the second time they have failed to take at least one point from a match, while before that they went down narrowly at Newcastle. The Sharks have also scored 25 tries in their last six matches.

Leicester will be hurting after missing out on the playoffs for the first time in more than a decade. But they have paid the price of too many performances lacking in accuracy and ruthlessness, and Sale look the value to make it a miserable end to the campaign for the Tigers.

Wasps are the narrowest of favourites for their trip to Newcastle but they should get the better of a Falcons side missing a few key performers.

Newcastle director of rugby Dean Richards has said he is protecting a few knocks from last week but it looks as if he is taking no chances with a tough semi-final trip in prospect. Top tryscorer Vereniki Goneva, fellow winger Sinoti Sinoti, Scott Wilson, Sinoti Sinoti, Michael Young, Joel Hodgson and Sean Robinson all miss out on the final home game of the campaign.

Wasps have named a strong line-up and look to be over their wobble of two single-point defeats at Leicester and Sale in their last two road outings.

Sale to win by one to 12 points
1pt 2-1 Betfair
Wasps -1
2pts Evs Betway

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Leicester will be hurting after missing out on the playoffs for the first time in more than a decade
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