Wasps Worth Following
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2.75pts Wasps (+11) to beat Saracens at 10/11 (General)
We saw last week to our cost the confidence that an 'underdog' can garner from a winning run no matter the level of the opposition - and I think London Wasps are worth backing with an 11-point start against Saracens on Sunday.
Let me start by saying that even though a couple of our wins already this season have come even without the handicap being applied, I can't take the leap of faith this time and back Wasps even though they're as big as 11/2.
Saracens remain a formidable outfit - they'll unquestionably finish in the top four once again this season - and have lost just once all season, a 14-12 reverse against Exeter Chiefs at Fortress Sandy Park.
They followed up back-to-back Heineken Cup wins with a road victory over fellow top-four hopefuls Northampton last time out and even though they're without six players on England duty they still have a strong side out.
But missing so many of their key men - Owen Farrell, Brad Barritt, Chris Ashton, Mouritz Botha, Alex Goode and Mako Vunipola are the men in question - could well mean Sarries settle for 'just' the win here with some sensible, percentage rugby, something they're certainly not averse to.
In their seven Premiership matches to date they've only picked up one try bonus point (on the opening day) with only Sale Sharks and London Welsh having scored fewer points than the 146 they've managed to date.
It's only fair to point out the 87 they've conceded is the least in the league by a distance, but it's certainly worth bearing in mind they are rarely high-scorers.
Only once this season - again, the opening-day mauling of London Irish - have they won a game by more than the 11 points they must overcome here, and last week's win over Northampton is the only time they've won by more than five domestically since a 23-16 win at Sale Sharks back in Round Two.
Wasps for their part bring a run of four consecutive victories into this one with Premiership wins over Worcester and London Welsh sandwiching back-to-back Challenge Cup victories over Mogliano and Newport Gwent Dragons.
While Sarries have only won once by more than the 11 handicap here so far this season, Wasps have only lost the one by that margin - a 24-6 defeat against Northampton in Round Five.
Of course, the worry there is Saints themselves lost to Sarries last time out by 10, but it's too simplistic to draw the parallel between those two results.
Besides, on a more positive note, Wasps only lost by two points to Harlequins on the opening weekend, while Sarries only beat Quins by the same margin.
And another thing in our favour is Wasps also won their last 'away' game at Saracens - albeit here at Twickenham - so shouldn't be overawed.
Sarries are back on 'familiar' territory at Vicarage Road for this one, and they've lost there only once in two years.
But I'm not convinced they'll run riot and as such Wasps +11 is the call.