Rugby Union:Leaders look to pull clear

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The Independent Online
SARACENS and Newcastle can go eight points clear at the top of the Allied Dunbar Premiership if they both win today.

Newcastle expect a crowd of 6,000 for their match against London Irish and will be expecting a convincing victory over the bottom-placed club.

Saracens' only defeat in the Premiership was due to a late drop-kick by Leicester's Joel Stransky and they will also be confident of beating troubled Harlequins.

Quins' season descended badly around the New Year when they lost to Bristol, were knocked out the cup by Wasps and endured the internal conflict which led to former England captain Will Carling's exit this week.

By contrast Wasps, who host Gloucester today, found their fortunes rocketing upwards. "The last week was good for us after a nightmare run of defeats," said their director of rugby, Nigel Melville.

"We finally won in the League for the first time since August when we beat Gloucester. We played very well to knock Quins out and then we received a good cup draw against Fylde.

"It was an enjoyable seven days. Now we want to maintain our perfect home record against Gloucester - seven wins in seven. But they have Philippe Saint-Andre back in action for the first time in two months and we have to ensure that we stop such a dangerous attacker."