Gallagher Premiership Round 22 Preview

Rugby players engage in a scrum

Round 22 of the 2018/19 Gallagher Premiership will get underway on Saturday the 18th of May. 

Saturday 18 May

Exeter v Northampton 
Sandy Park

Northampton can qualify for the playoffs with a bonus-point win over Exeter at Sandy Park on Saturday.

Fifth-placed Harlequins are one-point behind the Saints with a points difference of 70-less. Given the enormity of that gap, a win for the latter should be enough to see them through to the semi-finals. A winning bonus-point will guarantee it.

Exeter can consolidate top spot with a win themselves. A loss, coupled with a positive Saracens result over Worcester, could see them fall behind the Londoners.

While the Saints may arguably be the hungrier side this weekend, the Chiefs will use this match as preparation for their impending semi-final. They should take the W.
Verdict: Chiefs by seven or more.


Newcastle v Bristol
Kingston Park

A win over relegated Newcastle at Kingston Park could put Bristol in contention for a place in next season’s Champions Cup.

Currently sitting ninth, three-points behind the seventh-placed Sale and therefore outside of Champions Cup qualification, Bristol will look to do everything in their power to give themselves a chance at making the grade.

Other results do need to go their way, but the Bears should be proud of their first season back in the top-flight no matter Saturday’s outcome. They are assured of Challenge Cup rugby again at the very least and that is a big achievement in itself.

They will be too good for the lowly Falcons on Saturday and should record a comfortable win.
Verdict: Bristol by 14-points or more.


Leicester v Bath
Welford Road

A win for Bath over Leicester at Welford Road will ensure Champions Cup qualification next season.

It may have been another campaign full of what-ifs for Bath, but they are on the verge of qualifying for Europe’s elite once more. While they are likely to make the cut regardless of their result on Saturday, they will still be going full-throttle in the final game of the season.

Leicester have endured an absolute nightmare in 2018-19 and will be glad to finish up this weekend. 11th-place is not good enough for a club with such an acclaimed history and they will require a serious shake-up in the off-season if they are to get back to where they once were.

Come Saturday, though, Bath should take away a win.
Verdict: Bath by five or more.


Worcester v Saracens
Sixways Stadium

Newly crowned European champions Saracens can still finish top of the standings with a win at Worcester on Saturday.

Fresh off their 20-10 defeat of the mighty Leinster in Newcastle last week, Mark McCall’s men can ascend to the summit of the Premiership by beating the Warriors and hoping that Northampton pull off a miraculous result at Sandy Park.

The Warriors were good in spurts during the season but ultimately couldn’t put together any meaningful run of results when it mattered. A loss for them, coupled with a Leicester win, could see them drop a spot to finish 11th. That might just be the case for them come the weekend, with Sarries looking unlikely to show them any mercy.
Verdict: Saracens by 14-points or more.


Sale v Gloucester
AJ Bell Stadium

Gloucester can cap off a memorable round robin run this season with victory over Sale at the AJ Bell on the weekend.

Gloucester have won five of their last six Premiership encounters and will be confident of putting Sale to the sword in anticipation of their upcoming semi-final next week. Johan Ackermann’s side have looked fit and focused over the past several rounds and will be fighting tooth and nail for a spot in the final.

The Sale Sharks, having just announced the capture of Coenie Oosthuizen to go with a plethora of other Saffa - and particularly Natal Sharks - signings, look set to be a proper threat next season. They sit in seventh but will look to go out with a bang with victory this weekend.

That said, Gloucester don’t look like letting up and should take it away from home.
Verdict: Gloucester by six or more.


Wasps v Harlequins
Ricoh Arena

Harlequins can maintain pressure on Northampton for a playoff berth with a win over Wasps at the Ricoh Arena this weekend.

Paul Gustard’s charges have enjoyed a strong finish to the season and have come within touching distance of a place in the semi-finals. All they can do now is win away and hope the Saints slip up at Exeter.

Wasps stand in stark contrast after starting well before fading rapidly as the campaign progressed. They are still in danger of failing to qualify for the Champions Cup with Bristol breathing down their necks, and would surely hit a new low with failure to navigate safe passage through to the tournament.

They may just have to prepare for the worst, though, with Quins unlikely to relent this Saturday. They should be too good for Dai Young’s deflated troops.
Verdict: Harlequins by five or more.

Written by Shaun Goosen 

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