Round 20 of the Gallagher Premiership answered three questions with Saracens ratifying a home semi-final with a win over Wasps, Gloucester assuring a semi-final place with a losing bonus point at Sixways while Worcester Warriors made certain of a place in the Premiership next season with their brilliant win. What can we expect in Round 21? With Just two rounds of the season remaining the big games just keep on coming with this weekend again promising fireworks and enthralling action.
Harlequins v Leicester Tigers, Friday 3rd May, Kick-off @ 7.45 pm
Round 21 kicks off at the stoop with 5th placed Quins pushing for the last semi-final place hosting 11th placed Tigers who need 2 points from their last two games to guarantee premiership status for next season.
Following Christmas (Round 11) Harlequins stormed to 5 consecutive wins making them favourites for a semi-final berth but that has now been followed by 5 straight defeats. They are now fifth but level with fourth-placed Northampton Saints on 51 points, and nervously only three ahead of Sale Sharks in sixth position. Quins need points now for any chance of claiming fourth place and that coveted semi-final spot either against Saracens or their conquerors of round 20, Exeter Chiefs who saw them off 17-15 at Sandy Park.
Two of Quins last 5 defeats were at The Stoop, however, they have not suffered three consecutive home defeats since the 2006/2007 Premiership season.
A win last weekend would have seen Leicester Tigers confirm their Premiership status for next season, but a bitter loss to Bristol Bears sees them still requiring points to be mathematically safe. The Falcons need the maximum 10 points on offer to overhaul the Tigers 39, that is if Leicester fails in attaining anymore points. How precious now is their only victory in the last five rounds that was against Newcastle Falcons, 27-22 in round 19.
The Tigers have won their last five matches against the Quins since February 2016 including the entertaining 35-24 win in the reverse fixture at Welford Road in round 10
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Saracens v Exeter Chiefs, Saturday 4th May, Kick-off @ 3 pm
The Top two meet at Allianz Park with top of the pile Exeter Chiefs requiring just two points from two games to secure top spot at the end of the regular season.
Saracens have only lost one of their past six games in all competitions which was at Ashton Gate in round 19 of Gallagher Premiership, 21-23 to Bristol Bears, but still, find themselves trailing by 9 points to their visitors this week. However, with a Premiership home semi-final already secured and a trip to St James Park for the Heineken Champions Cup Final, it is far from doom and gloom for Sarries fans.
Sarries fans can also boast that in this clash of the Titans that Saracens have not lost at home, in all competitions since, in February 2018, currently a winning streak of 20 home games.
Exeter Chiefs avoided back-to-back home defeats last weekend when they overcame a spirited Harlequins side 17-15 and will be hoping for another victory against another London side and their arch nemesis of recent years, Saracens. With only one loss if their last seven outings and one loss against Saracens in also seven matches, last season’s Premiership Final 10-27, Chiefs will be looking to get the job done and therefore secure top spot with one game remaining.
Exeter’s previous last four visits to Allianz Park is won two, drawn one and lost one.
Head to head between these two titans of English rugby is played 20 with Saracens running out with eleven wins to Exeter Chiefs eight and there being one drawn game.
Bath Rugby v Wasps, Sunday 5th May, Kick-off @ 3 pm
The battle for fourth place continues with eight placed Bath Rugby hosting seventh-placed Wasps at The Rec with both still believing premiership semi-final berth can be theirs.
Bath Rugby boasts a strong home record this season with only two losses but this juggernaut of English Rugby still find themselves with plenty of work to do to give respectability to their season. Their last five Premiership games have all ended with the home side being victorious and will be hoping that this trend continues with a bonus point to give them an outside chance of claiming a converted premiership semi-final spot.
Wasps have only won twice in their last seven Premiership games and have only recorded two away wins all season. However, they have won on all of their last three Premiership visits to the Recreation Ground, with only Leicester (between 1999 and 2003) and Saracens (2009-2014) bettering this record with four successive Premiership Rugby wins at the venue. Wasps still believe they can make fourth spot but will need to beat Bath which is something they have already failed to do three times this season – with a 35 all draw in the European Champions Cup, then losing the replay and a loss in round 10 of the Gallagher Premiership.
These two mainstays of the Premiership have played each other forty-five times with the bragging rights belonging to Wasps having recorded 23 wins to Bath’s 21 even, one draw, though Bath leads the try count 101 to 99.
Remaining fixtures from round 21 of the Gallagher Premiership 2018/2019
Friday 3rd May, kick-off @ 7.45 pm
- Bristol Bears v Sale Sharks
Saturday 4th May, Kick-off @ 3 pm
- Gloucester Rugby v Newcastle Falcons
- Northampton Saints v Worcester Warriors