Just two Guinness Premiership Rounds to go

The Guinness Premiership now has just two rounds to go, meaning teams have 160 minutes of rugby left to achieve their goals, whether that be a Guinness Premiership semi-final place or a place in the Heineken Cup.


Qualification for the Heineken Cup may be clarified this weekend; should Cardiff Blues beat Toulouse, English clubs would be guaranteed seven places in the premier European tournament next season.


The top three clubs are now separated by two points, with Bath Rugby in fourth and Gloucester Rugby fifth.


After Harlequins’ win over Bath Rugby at the Recreation Ground it seems clear that predicting results in the Guinness Premiership is a futile exercise, with the league as competitive as it has ever been and surprise results about the only guarantee.


The top five go into those final two rounds with contrasting histories in terms of finishing the season.


Both fifth placed Gloucester Rugby and fourth placed London Irish won their last two matches last season; Gloucester away to London Wasps and at home to Bath Rugby and London Irish at home to Leeds Carnegie and away to Sale Sharks.


Gloucester Rugby will have to travel to London Wasps on the last day of the season and would dearly love to replicate that win.

 

Before that however, they must play Worcester Warriors on a Tuesday evening, their commitments in the EDF Energy Cup and Worcester’s place in the European Challenge Cup quarter-final depriving them of the chance to play Worcester Warriors the previous Saturday.

London Irish face two matches away from the Madejski, they visit fortress Franklin’s Gardens in round 20 and Sixways on the final day of the season.


Bath Rugby beat Saracens in convincing fashion in their penultimate match of last season, before losing at Kingsholm to Gloucester, a loss which saw them slip to third in the table and sent them to Adams Park for a semi-final against Wasps.


Bath face Newcastle Falcons at Kingston Park in round 20 before their final home match of the season, when Saracens are the visitors once more.


Harlequins lost both of their final two matches last season, with Tom Varndell’s last minute try in their final match denying them their first crack at a semi-final. They had surprisingly been turned over at home by Sale Sharks the previous week.


This season, Harlequins’ place in the top four looks far more secure after their 3-19 win over Bath Rugby strengthened their position at the top end of the Guinness Premiership table.


Quins have a tricky trip to Sale Sharks in round 21, before they finish the season at home to Newcastle Falcons, who may well still have a chance of Heineken Cup rugby.


The bookmakers’ favourites for the title are Leicester Tigers, with Coral.co.uk, the Official Betting and Gaming Partner of the Guinness Premiership, pricing them at 5-4, ahead of Quins at 10-3, London Irish at 7-2 and Bath Rugby offering some decent value at 6-1. Gloucester Rugby are the outsiders after their defeat at Franklin’s Gardens, priced at 9-1.


Tickets for that Final continue to sell well with sales standing at 52,000 after this weekend.


Remaining Guinness Premiership fixtures


Round 20


Friday 17th April, 19:45, Sale Sharks v Harlequins, Edgeley Park


Saturday 18th April, 15:00, Northampton Saints v London Irish, Franklin’s Garden


Sunday 19th April, 15:00, Bristol Rugby v London Wasps, Memorial Stadium
Sunday 19th April, 15:00, Saracens v Leicester Tigers, Vicarage Road
Sunday 19th April, 15:45, Newcastle Falcons v Bath Rugby, Kingston Park, Sky


Tuesday 21st April, 19:30, Gloucester Rugby v Worcester Warriors, Kingsholm


Round 22


Saturday 25th April, 15:00, Bath Rugby v Saracens, Recreation Ground
Saturday 25th April, 15:00, Harlequins v Newcastle Falcons, Twickenha

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