For these six teams, it’s so far been a good season, but for some it will turn out to be a great one. Can anyone stop the Chiefs? Will Sarries and Wasps become contenders again? And who will nick that last spot in the top four?
Some quality sides are going to miss out on this top six, which is a mark of the talent within the teams who we think will manage to get there.
To see our predictions for the sides currently in the bottom half of the table click here.
Bath are another inconsistent side. We have seen some fantastic performances, like their win against Harlequins, but some flat ones too, like their defeat to Gloucester and being outplayed at Sale.
They have so much attacking quality, with a backline still full of current and former England internationals, that they really should be doing better than they are currently, and I can see them hitting some real form in this second half of the season.
They will be tested during the internationals, but do still have plenty of depth to call upon and they aren’t as reliant on these players as other teams. Nevertheless, they will again miss out on the top four.
Predicted finish: 6th
5. Newcastle Falcons
I can hear Newcastle Fans cursing this prediction, and for a team that has played some of the rugby they have it may seem a particularly harsh call. But with what is likely to be a major push for Europe, I don’t know whether Newcastle will be able to sustain both campaigns, given the size of their squad.
Nevertheless, when they are accurate in attack they can beat anyone and they could make this prediction look silly if they can find their best form in the important periods of this season.
Predicted finish: 8th
Gloucester have made a transition from a team packed with internationals that didn’t have the toughness to challenge for the top four to a side with a settled squad featuring great club players who put their bodies on the line for their team.
They have become one of the toughest sides to beat, especially at Kingsholm and also have some quick attacking players.
This will end their long wait to return to the play-offs, but I can’t see them winning an away semi-final.
Predicted finish: 4th (semi-final losers)
Many believed that last year’s final defeat would seriously hurt Wasps’ recent progress and as they slipped to tenth in the table it seemed that that reality was panning out.
But they recovered and have gone on a six-match winning run in the league to put themselves firmly in the play-off places.
I can see them staying there, but, like Gloucester, an away semi-final seems a step too far at the moment.
Predicted finish: 3rd (semi-final losers)
Saracens have had an up and down season. It included a seven-game losing run in all competitions with a thumping home defeat to Clermont, but in their last two games they’ve managed to put in fine performances and they will maintain that second spot for the remainder of the season.
They have such a large amount of depth, and with exits from the Anglo-Welsh and Champions Cup set to be early they will be able to turn their attention to the Premiership, and they have shown resilience to overcome rough patches of form.
Predicted finish: 2nd (finalists)
1. Exeter Chiefs
I felt that Exeter’s form would dip this year following their Premiership-winning season, but they’ve done nothing of the sort. Whilst they’ve struggled in Europe, they have looked unstoppable in the league.
They always do the basics right, and when they get a sniff they are absolutely clinical. Even when they play badly, such as the home win against Harlequins, they come away with bonus point victories.
They will join Saracens in the final.
Predicted finish: 1st (finalists)
But who will win?
When both teams are at their best, I can’t help but feel that Saracens have the best squad and are a better team. At a neutral venue, I’d back Saracens to win so they are my champions, with Exeter as the runners-up.
Nevertheless, anything can happen in a Premiership final and whoever’s in it this summer, it sure to be a brilliant occasion.
Nick Powell, Pundit Arena