There will be lots of very nervous fans and players this week as by Sunday evening we may well have a clearer idea of who is in line for all the season’s prizes – home semi finals, top 4 and Champions cup places.
Leicester Tigers, who spent most of the season looking a very poor version of themselves, have purred into top gear these last few weeks and win this weekend and I think they will yet again make the play offs. A remarkable achievement by the club. Bath, to stay in the game, just have no choice but to go all guns blazing to win their last two games and hope the Tigers slip up but their confidence will be wobbling with that narrow defeat in the Challenge Cup. Bath could however also be playing to guarantee a top 6 finish so there will be an absolute focus from the Bath lads to maximise their points. They have a wonderful squad of players and will rightly feel disappointed if they drop out of the European places in the final run in.
Wasps, who have dazzled this season and quite rightly sit in top place, find themselves at the business end and still feeling slightly threatened by Exeter and Saracens for that home semi final. They know a win away against Harlequins guarantees a home semi so I suspect coach Dai Youngs has made tonight’s game feel like a cup final. If they nail the win they will feel a lot of pressure off for their final game against Saracens which should mean a more relaxed performance and a good chance of a sweet final season win over the European Champions.
But like an episode of Line of Duty the twists keep coming as Harlequins are also in the hunt for a Top 6 place and have good reasons of their own to feel confident they can beat the league leaders. Their Kiwi superstar fly half Nick Evans is finally calling time on his Harlequins career and what a legend he has been for Quins. A classy player and man Nick has been a key figure for the club for what seems like forever. I know fairy tale endings do not always happen in sport but you would have to be hard hearted to begrudge the man a glorious final game at the Stoop. Maybe a draw with four tries a piece and Nick Evans scoring the final try?
Everyone’s favourite second team Exeter Chiefs are camped out in Sandy park this weekend looking for the Northampton Saints scalp. They cannot afford a wobble with Saracens just two points behind them but they know they need to win their last two games to seal that home semi which would be a marvellous reward for the club. I have a feeling though this may not be straight forward as yet again Saints are absolutely in the hunt for Top 6 and a win here can put space between them and the other two chasing clubs. The news on the ground however is they have some major injuries which will probably tip the balance back to Exeter.
Finally a word for my old club Gloucester and their outstanding win last weekend in the Challenge Cup. I am absolutely chuffed that they went as the underdogs to take on the leaders of the French league La Rochelle and came away with the win. La Rochelle has an incredible record at home and a passionate a very vocal support. It shows Gloucester has got the players and the game plan and they will fancy taking a shot at Bath this weekend. Confidence is crucial in sport as is momentum so Gloucester have a good opportunity to sneak another rare away win - and with just 2 points separating them and 6th place the incentive could not be any better.