Bath have have risen like the Phoenix from the flames this season and are in a very strong position for being rewarded with some long awaited silverware, but can Northampton keep the lock firmly shut on the trophy cabinet at the Rec.
In their quest to reap the rewards of their efforts Bath could potentially meet Saints on three occasions in their possible next six matches. For the eternal optimists amongst us this is the remaining games that Bath could be competing in.
Definite fixtures -
Wasps ~Amlin cup ~ 27th April
Saints ~ Premiership ~ 2nd May
Quins ~ Premiership ~ 10th May
Possible extra fixtures -
Play off semi ~ 17/18 May (Saints)
Amlin final ~ 23rd May (Saints)
Premiership final ~ 31st May (???)
A top four finish for Bath has been on target for the majority of the season and with only two fixtures left in the league competition Bath aim to remain in the running. The main competitors for 3rd and 4th places are the current holders of those positions; Bath and Leicester Tigers, although hot on their heels are Harlequins. Saracens are sat at the top of the pile and Saints nestled underneath needing only four points from their last to games to secure second, both sides will have the home advantage in the semi-final play off, but who will face who?
Bath's last two games against Saints and Quins certainly make it easy to keep hold of the 3rd slot, but Tigers have to face Sale and Saracens, no certain victory for either side and may even let Quins nip in to the top four. As the league stands at the moment; 1st (Sarries) will play 4th (Tigers) and 2nd (Saints) draw 3rd (Bath).
The dream scenario for Bath to get into the play offs they will need to beat Saints at the Rec, then Quins at the Stoop which will lead them on the road to Franklins Gardens for round 2 of the battle with Northampton.
Saints 18-10 win over Quins in the first of the two Amlin Cup Semi-Finals means if Bath beat Wasps in their Semi-Final yet another bout between the two clubs will be set, this time in Cardiff at the Arms park. Saints for the bulk of the game were the team in control, with a man of the match performance from Fotuali'I who set up one try and scored himself and fully deserving the MOM award. Quins managed to fight their way back into the game, but it just wasn't quite enough.
With so much at stake all of these possible games are hugely important, not just for Bath but for Northampton also, both clubs (as with all clubs) want to fill their trophy cabinets and these two clubs could stop the other. Over their possible three meetings pressure could be the deciding factor, and who handles it the best. Unfortunately of recent times the pressure seems to of got the better of Bath so this will be a huge test of their character.
Unfortunately statistics don't speak in Bath's favour, only winning 10 out of their 31 league matches with Saints, with one draw in their match ups. So if your a believer of statistics Bath will go into the games as underdogs, and hope to upset Northampton's apple cart if they wish prevail and grab the much converted silverware.
Saints have already been in the LV=Cup final this season and lost out to Exeter Chiefs, who won their first trophy in top flight rugby. Could Saints be a team that also can't handle the pressure, which could lead to some very tentative games between Bath and Northampton?
Obviously all of this is hypothetical and Bath have to win their games to ensure their progression in the quest for the silverware that the club and fans have so been desperately yearning for!