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England Premiership weekend preview: Harlequins handed Marcus Smith boost for Exeter clash

As the Six Nations takes one last pause before the final two rounds, domestic rugby union takes centre stage with Harlequins against Exeter Chiefs a standout fixture.

With a bumper crowd expected at Twickenham for this clash, the match could be the perfect dress rehearsal for England fly-half Marcus Smith ahead of the Red Rose's clash with France, after he was made available for Quins this weekend.

All eyes on Smith for Twickenham showdown

WhatHarlequins v Exeter Chiefs
WhereTwickenham, London
When17:15, Saturday 4th March 2023
How to watchBT Sport 2
OddsHarlequins 4/7, Tie 20/1, Exeter Chiefs 6/4

A few eyebrows were raised when England head coach Steve Borthwick made Smith available for Saturday’s Premiership game at Twickenham.

Having played a matter of seconds in the win over Wales in Cardiff, Smith is back with his club side for the weekend.

There certainly won't be any complaints in the Quins camp and Smith has a chance to impress on a big stage with his club in a mouth-watering clash against Exeter.

Both teams have work to do to finish in the play-off places this season and it should be a thrilling encounter at Twickenham despite many international players away in Six Nations camps.

The presence of Smith could make all the difference for Quins, who are 10/11 to win with a -4 handicap. 

Saints on the rise ahead of Bristol battle

WhatBristol v Northampton
WhereAshton Gate, Bristol
When19:45, Friday 3rd March 2023
How to watchBT Sport 1
OddsBristol 1/2, Tie 20/1, Northampton  17/10

Northampton have impressed over the last couple of weeks as they get set to travel to Bristol Bears on Friday night.

Saints recorded high-scoring wins over both Sale and Gloucester at Franklin's Gardens and now find themselves up in third place going into this week’s fixtures.

Bristol are also growing in confidence during this period without their England stars, following wins over Sale, Newcastle and Bath during February.

Saints have an exciting backline and with fly-half James Grayson set for a return, Northampton look an attractive price at 17/10 to head back to the East Midlands with a victory. 

Saturday provides iconic fixture 

WhatLeicester v Bath
WhereWelford Road, Leicester
When17:15, Saturday 4th March 2023
How to watchPRTV Live
OddsLeicester 1/7, Tie 33/1, Bath 9/2

Two of the most iconic teams in English club rugby, Leicester and Bath, once again prepare to do battle at Welford Road on Saturday.

Once two sides both challenging for silverware, Bath find themselves bottom of the table as they prepare to face the reigning champions Leicester.

This could well be a one-sided affair and the hosts are 10/11 with a -13 handicap for this encounter, as the Tigers look to get themselves back in the top four. 

Tight encounter in store at Newcastle

WhatNewcastle Falcons v London Irish
WhereKingston Park, Newcastle
When15:00, Sunday 5th March 2023
How to watchPRTV Live
OddsNewcastle Falcons 5/6, Tie 18/1, London Irish 21/20

There has been little to choose from between Newcastle and London Irish this year, with the Exiles winning just one more game than the Falcons so far this season.

Newcastle have sprung some surprises at Kingston Park this season and Irish will have to be on their mettle to head back to the capital with something to show for their efforts.

The Falcons are deserved favourites on Sunday at 5/6 to claim a sixth win in the Premiership this season. 

Top two face off in Manchester

WhatSale Sharks v Saracens
WhereAJ Bell Stadium, Manchester
When15:00, Sunday 5th March 2023
How to watchITV1 / BT Sport 1
OddsSale Sharks 4/7, Tie 20/1, Saracens 6/4

Sunday also sees the top two in the table go head to head as Sale welcome Saracens to the AJ Bell Stadium.

Sarries have lost just two league games this season and will face a big test when they make the trip to the North West this weekend.

Sale's preparations have taken a blow with fly-half George Ford being called up to the England squad ahead of next week's clash with France at Twickenham.

That could prove the difference between the sides and Sarcens are at an attractive price of 6/4 to claim what would be their 14th Premiership win of the season. 

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