Come Sunday night I’m pretty sure that most of the remaining questions for this season will be answered. I think we’ might know the top 4 and it will be confirmed that Worcester will be in the Championship from September.
These things are, however, not certain and it is just possible that some things will go down to the last game of the regular season.
The biggest game is on Friday night (and BT Sport thankfully) – the Saints travel to Bath for a match that is a forerunner for the Amlin Cup Final in Cardiff on 23rd May. But this is no dress rehearsal – both sides need the win – Saints want to secure a home semi-final and Bath need points to guarantee a play-off berth. It is also possible that these two will clash again in the play-offs so getting the psychological advantage is a consideration too.
Both sides have wobbled a little in the run in and Bath have home advantage, but I still expect Saints to grind out a win and calm the nerves of their faithful followers. Bath to get a bonus point but it won’t be enough to confirm a top 4 place yet and it could easily all go down to the last game at Harlequins with both teams still able to squeeze in.
Gloucester against Irish is a dead rubber – both sides are safe and neither have anything to play for. I’ll go with home advantage and the hope that Gloucester will give the Kingsholm crowd something to shout about in the last home game of the campaign. They should have a lot more to cheer next season when the heavyweight recruits arrive to make the Cherry and Whites pack look a lot more like a traditional Gloucester 8.
Saracens, fresh from the Heineken semi-final and arguably the best game ever played by a Premiership side are at home to Worcester. With home advantage in the semi -final already secured, expect Mark Mccall to rest many of his first choice side. They’ll still have too much for the Warriors though. Worcester will be relegated – but maybe only for a season – Dean Ryan has been busy in the transfer market and it would be a surprise if they don’t bounce straight back
Wasps are still wanting to confirm 7th place – now important for the new European Cup and will want to get points at the expense of Newcastle. The Falcons could technically be caught by Worcester but not even Dean Ryan really believes that and Wasps will win comfortably.
The late kick-off on Saturday sees the Tigers at Sale. This offers just a couple of combinations depending on which way it goes. Sale would need to get 5 points to give themselves an outside shot at a top 4 place – they did so easily at Sandy Park in the last round, but the Tigers are a different matter. It would however make their final game at the Stoop very interesting though.
I think that Leicester will spoil that party and move into 3rd in the table and the probability of facing Saints in the play-offs – at Franklin’s Gardens.
If my predictions are right Harlequins will have a chance to keep their top 4 ambitions alive going into the final round. They face the Chiefs at Sandy Park on Sunday and are likely to face a much more abrasive Exeter side than the one which capitulated last time out to Sale. It is the last chance of glory for Quins, having lost in the Amlin semi-final this weekend. I think they will win to still be in the hunt next week after a bruising match with the Chiefs.
My predictions –
Saints to scrape past Bath
Wasps take the Falcons
Gloucester win a meaningless game against Irish
Saracens reserves to down Worcester
Sale to lose to Tigers – just.
Exeter to go down at home again – this time to Quins
Whatever happens there will are likely to be some things still up in the air as we head to the final round of the season