Whilst most of the country struggles to remember what day it is over the Christmas period, it is business as usual for Aviva Premiership players with a full Round 12 schedule over the weekend. They will have had a day off for Christmas Day, but it will be all hands to the pump for the rest of the week. Last weekend’s results have left only seven points separating 2nd and 8th in the table. All matches will impact the league standings, but the stand-out game of the round is at The Rec. Bath vs Wasps on Friday evening should be a ‘Christmas cracker’.
Wasps Aiming for Sixth Consecutive Win
Since these two met on the 1st October, where Bath emerged victorious from the Ricoh Arena 25-9, their form has diverged significantly. Wasps have only lost once since in the Premiership and are currently on a five match winning streak. This has propelled them to a more familiar position in the top four.
Consistency Needed For Bath
Meanwhile Bath have won three and lost three since that victory in the Premiership. This inconsistency has kept them in fifth place and they are now looking nervously over their shoulder at the chasing pack. They seem to be suffering from ‘Gloucester syndrome’, namely losing to near rivals whilst beating the top-placed sides. Todd Blackadder will be particularly frustrated at narrow home defeats to Newcastle and Gloucester that have stopped them building on excellent away wins at Leicester and Wasps.
The Somerset men come into this game after two heavy league defeats, so will be very motivated to stop the slide at The Rec. They face a tricky trip to resurgent Worcester in the New Year so need to nail a home win this week.
Bath vs Wasps Preview
In pure league table terms, Bath have more to lose from a defeat here. If other results go against them, for example a Gloucester win over Sale, they could find themselves seven or eight points outside a top four place. Furthermore Leicester, Sale and Newcastle could all overtake Bath if they win.
However a Bath win would lift them level or above their opponents (dependent on bonus points) and keep them right in the top four battle. Equally Wasps will be hungry for the win to keep them in touch with Exeter and Saracens, and most importantly a home semi-final.
This fixture last season ended 24-3 to Wasps back in March, so away wins in this fixture are currently the norm. But with snowfall during the week the weather may be a factor in the result. Wasps were able to blow Gloucester away in the second half in their previous game due to their rapid backplay, orchestrated by Danny Cipriani. This may be harder to do on a boggy pitch with heavy under-foot conditions.
Bath Fined for Faletau International Release
Ahead of this game, Bath have been hit with a £60,000 fine for releasing Talaupe Faletau to Wales outside of the autumn international window. Specifically, this relates to the Wales vs South Africa on December 2nd.
In an official statement, Bath Chief Executive Tarquin McDonald said “This on-going conflict between the club and international calendars is not good for players, clubs or unions. We continue to support the objective of a solution for the separation of club and international calendars in a way which…brings an end to situations such as this”.
Read the full Premiership Rugby statement here.
Aviva Premiership Round 12
The full fixture list for this weekend is as follows:
- Bath vs Wasps
- Exeter Chiefs vs Leicester Tigers
- Gloucester vs Sale Sharks
- London Irish vs Newcastle Falcons
- Harlequins vs Northampton Saints
- Saracens vs Worcester Warriors
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