Aviva Premiership Round 22: Who Needs What?

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LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 25: (L-R) Tom Wood, Captain of Northampton Saints, Gerritt-Jan Van Velze, Captain of Worcester Warriors, Ally Hogg, Captain of Newcastle Falcons, Jack Yeandle, Captain of Exeter Chiefs, Greig Laidlaw, Captain of Gloucester Rugby, Tom Youngs, Captain of Leicester Tigers, Brad Barritt, Captain of Saracens, Danny Care, Captain of Harlequins, Guy Mercer, Captain of Bath, Jack Lam, Captain of Bristol Rugby, Joe Launchbury, Captain of Wasps and Josh Beaumont, Captain of Sale, pose with The Aviva Premiership Trophy during the Aviva Premiership Rugby 2016-2017 Season Launch at Twickenham Stadium on August 25, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images for Aviva)

After eight months of grueling rugby we have reached Aviva Premiership Round 22 and there is still a lot to play for. Only Bristol are certain to finish in the same position as they start the day. With all games starting at 4pm on Saturday there is certain to be drama as league places swap hands throughout the afternoon. Last Word on Rugby brings you a one-stop guide to what each team needs at the weekend.

Home Semi-Finals

Gloucester vs Exeter Chiefs

The Chiefs will be looking to extend their try-bonus winning records to eight games and they have every chance of doing this at Kingsholm. They have been averaging five tries a match and Gloucester have one eye, or maybe even two, on the Challenge Cup final. If they can get the maximum five points they will likely finish top of the table, regardless of the result at the Ricoh Arena. A second home semi-final, avoiding Wasps and Saracens should surely see the Chiefs at Twickenham again. On the other hand a Gloucester win could grab 7th but  more likely will solidify 8th.

Wasps vs Saracens

This is essentially a quarter final in Coventry, with the loser likely to be facing an away semi-final. If Exeter do get the maximum against Gloucester then the semi-final may be the exact same match up. Wasps are looking to complete an unbeaten season at the Ricoh and would be a stronger force in the semi at home. Saracens will back themselves to get the win and grab a home semi-final, but equally would not be worried about travelling to Wasps or Exeter. It is Wasps who perhaps need the win more this weekend and this motivation may get them over the line.

Final Play-off Place

Worcester Warriors vs Leicester Tigers

After a season of change, loss and sometimes humiliation, it is remarkable that Leicester are still on course for the play-offs once again. A win at Sixways would guarantee fourth place; the Tigers philosophy means they will be going there to win. They could still scrape through in defeat but that will all depend on the result at the AJ Bell Stadium.

Sale Sharks vs Bath  

Bath have overcome their mid-season slump and are still in with a shout of fourth place. The arrival of Todd Blackadder was expected to propel them back into the top four so there may be a sense of failure come Saturday evening. The men from Somerset need to win, ideally with a bonus point and hope Worcester can overcome Leicester, preferably by more than seven. So very much not in their hands. Sale can come no higher than 10th but a Worcester win could leave them 11th. Therefore there is still motivation for Steve Diamond’s men in front of their home crowd.

Champions Cup spot

Northampton Saints vs Harlequins

This really is winner takes all as sixth spot will be decided at the Gardens. Harlequins are in the driving seat as the Saints must win by more than seven points to overhaul their visitors into sixth. The side who finishes 7th will then have a week to wait to see if Gloucester will take their Champions Cup play-off spot, should they win the Challenge Cup.

Playing for Pride

Bristol vs Newcastle Falcons

If Newcastle were to win with a bonus point there is an outside chance they could finish 7th. More likely they will jump to 8th if Gloucester lose to Exeter. This would be their highest finish since 2006 and would demonstrate the progress made this year. Bristol are already relegated so can only play to give their fans a good Premiership send-off. They didn’t give Saracens an easy time last round so the Falcons should not be complacent.

 

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