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Wednesday, 14 November, 2018

Northampton have the pack power to make Gloucester work

Manu Tuilagi's return boosts Leicester's attacking threat at Exeter

New Gloucester fly-half Danny Cipriani
1 of 1

Gloucester v Northampton
BT Sport 2, 2pm Saturday
Exeter v Leicester
BT Sport 2, 4.30pm Saturday

All eyes will be on the starting fly-halves in Saturday's opening TV Premiership clash at Kingsholm as Danny Cipriani makes his debut for Gloucester and another new arrival Dan Biggar pulls on the number ten shirt for Northampton.

New-look sides are always hard to gauge, but the Saints pack look set to get an edge up front and that makes the visitors worth chancing with a seven-point start.

Cipriani lines up in an exciting backline for the hosts, and they have a decent set of forwards who will no doubt have been challenged to stand up and fight by hardline coach Johan Ackermann.

But the Saints forwards include new signings Ben Franks, a World Cup winner with New Zealand, and the much-travelled James Haskell, and with Biggar pulling the strings they can make the best of any territory they win.

Gloucester won eight home games last season, beating top two Exeter and Saracens along the way, but six of those were by seven points or fewer and their only blowout wins came against relegated London Irish and tenth-placed Harlequins.

Last season's table-toppers Exeter made only one signing over the summer in Cardiff winger Alex Cuthbert and he is sidelined for their opening match against Leicester.

But there's still a depth of talent to their squad and they can claim a hard-fought win over the Tigers.

Again, pack power could be the key, but Leicester fans will be excited to see centre Manu Tuilagi back to line up alongside Aussie Matt Toomua.

Nine of the Chiefs' ten home wins last season were by a double-figure margin, including a 30-6 success over the Tigers. The handicap is set at ten points at Sandy Park, and Leicester have enough attacking talent to keep it close.

Recommendations
Northampton +7
2pts 10-11 general
Exeter to win by one to 12 points
1pt 15-8 Paddy Power


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Gloucester won eight home games last season, beating top two Exeter and Saracens along the way, but six of those were by seven points or fewer
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