Having arrested a three-match losing sequence against Brive last week, Bath will look to keep up the momentum against the Tigers of Leicester at “The Rec” this Friday.
Bath and Leicester lock horns this weekend in a game that could have a massive bearing on the shape of this year's semi-finals. With both sides in the hunt for the playoff spots, this one could prove to be an absolute classic.
Bath Rugby v Leicester Tigers | Saturday 8 April | The Recreation Ground | 16h00
To Win (80 Mins)
Bath 17/20 | Draw 18/1 | Leicester 21/20
Bath’s 34-20 Challenge Cup win over Brive last week was a much-improved showing than what we’ve become accustomed to from them recently. They currently sit in fifth, just three points behind this Friday’s opponents on the Aviva Premiership table, and the chance of a place in the semi’s is certainly not out of their reach.
With only six points separating seventh from fourth, the run-in to this season’s playoffs is shaping up to be more than a little entertaining. Have no doubt, Todd Blackadder’s men will be vying for that final playoff spot (to go along with their Challenge Cup semi-final status), and a win this weekend will see them leapfrog the Tigers directly into fourth.
The performance of Welsh no. 8 Taulupe Faletau against Brive was colossal, to say the least, and would have given Warren Gatland a healthy reminder that he is still very much up for British contention, despite being limited by injury of late. His two tries, along with a brace from ace-winger Semesa Rokoduguni, set Bath up for victory, and more of the same will be required to bring down an equally determined Leicester line-up on Friday.
The pressure on the Tigers to remain in fourth will be helped this weekend by the purple-patch the Tom Youngs-led side currently finds themselves in. Three wins on the bounce sets them up nicely for Friday’s massive meeting at “The Rec”, although they will respect this powerful Bath side, especially after their performance in Europe.
The majority of Leicester’s wins this season have been big, with February’s memorable 50-17 annihilation of Bristol standing out in the memory, and their tally of 477 points scored so far is certainly not too shabby. They will, however, be wary of playing too expansively against this Bath line-up, whose ability to punish opposition mistakes is top-drawer.
Shutting down the space of George Ford at fly-half, and nullifying Faletau’s impact is key for Friday.
Verdict: Leicester 21/20
I back Leicester to finish in fourth this season. Bath will be spurred on by home-ground advantage, and they will get close, but Leicester will come out on top.