Thursday, 27 March 2014

Five rounds, Four teams and Two places!


The Aviva premiership is now building up to the business end of the competition, five games left and the third and fourth play off spots are still looking to be hotly contested.

Four teams are in a sub competition for the final two play off positions, with Saracens and Northampton Saints looking to be secure in first and second.
Bath are currently in third although Tigers are equal on 54 points, and only separated by points difference. Nipping at their heels are Sale and Quins who both can't be ruled out of those making the play offs. 
All four teams have some difficult and very important games left, we could see some some interesting "do or die games".

Bath have been many peoples surprise team this season, drawing lots of plaudits and still very much a developing team. With a wealth of young talent Bath seem to be improving game by game, even the learning curve they received against Saracens at the Rec will also help drive them forward hoping to chase the Play offs. 
Bath's remaining fixtures are far from easy, wins and even bonus points will be tough to gain, but it is within their grasp. Having to play two of the teams who are also competing for a top four position, second place Saints and their West Country counterparts Gloucester, all makes for a difficult run in to the end of the season. Worcester Warriors who unfortunately haven't had the rub of the green this season will be classed as Bath's easiest game, yet Warriors still chasing that first elusive win will not make it an easy game for Bath.  

Tigers have had quite an indifferent campaign this season, as last years champions they have potentially under performed for the majority of their games; yet still sit in fourth matching Bath in points. 
Injuries have certainly hampered Tigers this season, which has left them searching further down their ranks to find replacements. With returning players from injury or international duty Tigers tails are lifting and has seen them pass 40 points in their last two premiership ties, the clinical display in which they dispatched Chiefs saw them back to the Tigers we've been used to. 
The five remaining fixtures for Tigers are definitely the harder set of games within the four contenders, playing the top two teams plus two of your competitors for the play off spots which may well hamper their final flourish.

Sale are on a recent run of one loss in six premiership games, as are Bath, both of the the teams loss has come at the hands of Saracens. Sale at the beginning of the season were tipped as a mid table team, yet have raised the bar in their game this year. 
Their recent win over Saints has shown their intent of chasing a top four finish, Steve Diamond has certainly pushed them on in this campaign, with belief and expectations running high. 
With Danny Cipriani hitting some of his best form and the try machine Mark Cuato still showing no sign of tiring of crossing the line, the team headed up by captain Dan Braid are seeming relentless in their drive to be considered one of the big clubs in the Premiership.

Quins on paper should be flying high at the top of the table, but with inconsistent performances, close wins and players on international duties they find theirselves in sixth place. With their returning 6 Nation players; Chris Robshaw, Danny Care, Joe Marler and man of the moment Mike Brown, they can look to take the final five games by the scruff of the neck and push for a top four finish. 
As with the other three teams it's not an easy run in to the finish line, nine points behind with five games to go is a big ask. Still left to play Sale, Tigers and their final game against Bath the play offs is looking like a very difficult task. 

As a Bath fan I am trying to look at this objectively and without my Blue, Black and White tinted glasses on, but I am looking at this as a fan of the game as opposed to a supporter of a team.
Looking at the remaining fixtures for the four teams I've made my predictions on if the teams will win or lose plus how many points they may well be taking away from the game ie W-4.
Cast your eyes over the table bellow see my predictions and feel free to agree or disagree. 


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