The 22nd and final round of the Gallagher Premiership promises to be a tough one. With a lot at stake, we are going to enjoy gruelling jostle for the top positions with titans ready to face each other. Exeter Chiefs are still at the top of the table four points ahead of the Saracens who recently won the Heineken Champions Cup at Newcastle. Both teams will fight for the top spot into the final round. Gloucester have guaranteed a semi-final berth while the battle for the last semi-final spot will go down to the wire with Harlequins, Northampton Saints, Sale Sharks and Wasps all hopeful
What is to be decided this weekend?
Out of the four semi-final slots, three have been decided and several sides ruled out. This weekend, we are going to be treated to a fight for the final position in the semi-finals with contenders being Harlequins and Northampton Saints. The poor performance at Leicester in the last session left the Saints with one point ahead of the Quins. Fortunately, none of the sides has a favourable match ahead as Quins meet archrivals Wasps at Coventry while the Saints head to Sandy Park to face the Chiefs. We are also going to see some action at the lower positions of the table as these teams will determine the top of the table. Wasps will be looking to stop the Quins from going to the semis while Sale still have slim hopes of the semi-finals but play Gloucester.
All Gallagher Premiership round 22 games will kick off on Saturday 18th of May at 4 pm
Preview: Exeter Chiefs v Northampton Saints
Exeter Chiefs are going into their fourth Gallagher Premiership rugby semi-final. The last three have always been at Sandy Park. Despite being at the top of the table, the Chiefs have lost two of their last three matches. The losses at Sandy Park this season have been against Gloucester in round 3 and Wasps in round 19. Their meeting with the Saints is a deal breaker for this season given that it is the game that stands in the way of Saints to getting to the semis. Saints have not played in the semis since 2015.
The recent form of Saints is good having won three of the last matches and only a point away from the fourth position. Their last loss was against Gloucester who beat them 40-31 at the beginning of April. The chiefs met Saints at Franklin’s Gardens in round 11 and the latter won the match. However, they have never won against Exeter in doubles since the 2013/14 season. The difference in the point in the last wins for Chiefs has been getting narrower, giving a possibility that tables can turn in this match. With a lot at stake, it remains to be seen if the Saints will be up for a challenge, especially now that the Chiefs will be on their home ground. The only other option that can guarantee a place in the semis is gaining a point at the match and Harlequins losing when they meet the Wasps. Unfortunately, this possibility is still remote.
Preview: Wasps v Harlequins
Wasps go into this one in poor form this season, having won just two games in the last eight games this season. This was at home to Worcester in the 18th round and Exeter in the 19th round. They have only been beaten by the Warriors at Ricoh Arena this season. Their rivals the Harlequins are bidding for a spot at the semis. They have not reached the semis since their run in 2014. As for the Wasps, it is the first time they are missing out on the semi-finals since 2015.
Before beating Leicester at home in round 21, Harlequins have had a five-game losing streak in this season’s campaign. They have also lost all their recent three away games in the Premiership since they beat Bath in the Round 15. The last time the two teams met was in round 11 where the Quins beat Wasps 20-13 in a decisive match at Twickenham Stadium. However, they have never had a double win against Wasps since their 2013/14 campaign. For the five visits they have made to the Ricoh Arena, they only beat Wasps in September of 2017. Therefore, despite being a decisive game, it will not be easy for the Quins.
Preview: Sale Sharks v Gloucester Rugby
Sale Sharks are also having a season-defining match when they host Gloucester Rugby at AJ Bell Stadium on 18th May. The last time these teams met, Sharks were fighting for a position in the Heineken Champions Cup. The only time that the Sharks have been defeated in this season at the AJ Bell Stadium was when Wasps beat them in round four and their match with Exeter Chiefs in round 14. Gloucester is comfortably at the third position in the Gallagher Premiership Rugby with a wide berth of ten points ahead of the fourth-placed Northampton Saints.
The team has had a rather good season, having only lost once to Worcester in the last six matches. Gloucester has also proceeded to the semi-finals in all seasons since 2011. They have also won two of their last three games at AJ Bell Stadium. However, the Sharks beat Gloucester 30-15 when they met at Kingsholm in the 11th round. However, they have not achieved double wins against this team since their meetings in the 2013/2014 season. Besides, the Sharks have been unbeaten in the last two games with a win against Bath and a draw against Bristol. However, they have not had triple wins since January.
Remaining fixtures from round 22 of the Gallagher Premiership 2018/2019
Saturday 18th May, kick-off @ 4 pm
- Leicester Tigers v Bath Rugby
- Newcastle Falcons v Bristol Bears
- Worcester Warriors v Saracens