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Nic Ladds 14th May 2010 - 20:02

A home double in the Guinness Premiership play-offs?

Northampton v Saracens - 13:30 live on Sky Sports 3

Still smarting from their one point loss to Saracens on home turf, Northampton are at odds of 2/5 to turn the tables when it really matters in the Guinness Premiership semi - final.

Saracens arrive as 21/10 underdogs to progress through and they really did upset the applecart coming and winning at the formidable Franklin's Gardens, a place that the Saints have turned in to such a fortress.

So, who will come good when it matters most? In one corner we have the sublime creativity and attacking prowess of the Saints with Chris Aston (7/1 for first try), Ben Foden (14/1) and Stephen Myler (20/1) all huge threats in the back line, with the outstanding Phil Dowson (18/1) marauding from his flanker position.

In the other corner we have brute force and grit of the Saracens with the likes of Schalk Brits (25/1 for first try), Ernst Joubert (25/1) and Jacques Burger (28/1) set to give the Saints back a torrid afternoon, while Alex Goode (18/1) offers another outlet at full back to go with the pace of Michael Tagicakibau (12/1) and Chris Wyles (12/1) on the wings.

A weather check could be crucial before getting stuck in to this one as if clear and dry expect the Saints to run Saracens ragged with their attacking, flowing rugby, but bad conditions and Sarries look better equipped for a slog in the mud at the time of writing I would veer towards Northampton giving up 6 points on the handicap at 10/11 - they will not be letting victory slip this time that's for sure.

For those who fancy a contest too close to call, backing a winning margin to either side of 1-5 points could be the call with Saints available at 5/1 to win by this margin and Saracens 6/1.

 

Leicester v Bath - 16:00 live on Sky Sports 3

This on paper could be the game of the whole season with the ferocious Leicester as usual perching on top of the Premiership but they face the most in form team around - a Bath side who have won 11 of their last 12.

These two fierce rivals will go for it from the off and it is no surprise to see Leicester installed as 4/11 favourites with the away side at odds of 9/4 as Welford Road is a formidable fortress for the Tigers at the best of times and along with a decent record against Bath, it looks like the away side could be up against it.

Leicester have beaten Bath in their last six meetings and indeed the away side's only Premiership defeat in their last 12 games was against the Tigers, going down 43-20 at Welford Road which may make people jump at the 10/11 on offer about the home side giving up 7 points on the handicap.

In a game as pressurised as this though Bath should not be written off and their formidable attack has the ability to see off any side and Leicester were beaten at home by Saracens in their last game.

Joe Maddock has been on fire on the wing for Bath and is 12/1 to go over first while Olly Barkley and Shontayne Hape have been crucial for them all season and are both 16/1 to go over first but all eyes will be on Butch James at fly half as he does battle with Toby Flood and whoever comes off best out of that one could win the game for their side.

Indeed Flood and Ben Youngs (both 16/1 for first try) are a lethal pairing at fly and scrum half and combined with Alex Tuilagi (10/1), Geordan Murphy (14/1), Lewis Moody (20/1) and co will certainly be tough to break down with every small error likely to be punished.

So, which way will it go? It has to be Leicester on home turf, they have been there, done it and know what these kind of matches are all about but the handicap looks about right at 10/11 giving up 7 points as this promises to be much closer than their 23 point victory last time.

A better bet could be the Tigers by 1-5 points at 5/1 or 6-10 points at 9/2 while another interesting market is the first team try where Bath could be the pick at 6/5 - their devastating attacking play could pick Leicester off early before the boot of flood and pure grit take the Tigers over the line.

Whichever side you'll be rooting for this will be a classic so sit back, relax and prepare for a double dose of pure entertainment.

 

 
 
 

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