Fat Lady to Sing at the Stoop – Aviva Premiership Preview – Round 22

It’s almost time for the chubby lady to start warming up her tonsils as she will be required to sing the chorus from ‘They think it’s all over’ come about 4.50 pm on Saturday evening in West London.

Aviva Premiership Season Launch 2013-2014

Technically there are three games in the final round of the regular season that could affect the top four placings – in reality there is only one which will determine who plays who and where in the semi-finals.

Tigers would need to get 5 points against Saracens and the Saints get nothing at home to Wasps for the second semi to move from Franklin’s Gardens to Welford Road. Even 4 points wouldn’t help Tigers as their point’s difference is not as good – it would take two very freaky results for Saints to lose home advantage. It’s not going to happen and Saints will be at Franklin’s Gardens.

The only real game in town will be at the Stoop and it’s a biggie ‘winner takes all’ confrontation.

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Last week I foolishly suggested they might move it across the road as it should attract a big crowd – I was forgetting that there’s a fancy dress 7s party on there this weekend. If you’re not into rugby a) I wouldn’t venture into Twickenham on Saturday and b) why on earth are you reading this?

I don’t think Bath will have enough to win against a Harlequins side who are difficult to beat at home, but if they did and Tigers get nothing against Saracens then Bath would grab an unexpected third place and avoid a trip to Saracens.

It’s all conjecture and good for pub arguments but I still think it will be Saracens v Quins and Saints v Tigers on the weekend after next.

It’s a big call to go for Tigers over Saracens but I suspect that Mark McCall may rest some of his big names and that will make the difference. They haven’t rested many to date, but with the Heineken and the Play-offs awaiting it might be smart not to risk key players in what is effectively, a dead game.

The other 3 games see the rest of the Premiership seeing out the season knowing that the outcome won’t affect where they will start next September.

London Irish host Sale, who were derailed last week by a rampant Tigers side – they will want to bounce back and Danny Cipriani and Michael Patterson will have one last chance to put their hands up for a seat on the plane down to play the World Champions. It will be Marlon Yarde’s farewell game at the Madejski but I think he will be on the losing team.

The Falcons, who have just signed two of the Tuilagi clan, host a bruised Exeter Chiefs side. I expect the Chiefs to lay down a marker for next season with a tough away win. The Falcons will just be relieved to have got through their first season back in the top flight and not to be in last place.

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Worcester play their last game in the Premiership for at least one year against a Gloucester side that have failed to live up to the promise of their  studded billing this season. It looks like it will be Mike Tindall’s last game and I expect him to leave with a win under his belt.

My predictions are split between three home and three away wins –

Harlequins to leapfrog Bath into 4th place

Tigers to grind a win against Saracens

Irish to fall to the Sharks

Falcons lose at home to the Chiefs

Saints to defeat Wasps

Warriors go down fighting against Gloucester

Whatever happens – all eyes will be on the Stoop – except for Stuart Lancaster that is – who will be nervously waiting for news from every ground and hoping that there are no more injuries to his already depleted squad.

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