- Latest Headlines
East Meets West: Gallagher Premiership Playoffs
East plays west this weekend in both Premiership semi finals, with the bookmakers predicting a Saracens: Exeter finale. Bath must once more sit out this stage of the season having failed to live up to hope and hype and managing only ‘third best in the west’ and last minute entry to the Champions Cup. Ardent fans across the country will though be watching these games to see who triumphs as must Bath’s new coaching team, to see how it is done. Who then do we think will win and who, as neutrals would we want to?
In The Tiger Den: Leicester v Bath
Bath’s final Premiership fixture takes them into the lair of old rivals Leicester Tigers. Time was when Leicester v Bath was a mouth watering, red -blooded encounter fought tooth and claw which players and fans relished. Since 2015 those days have gone, with both teams in decline, neither hitting the heights they aspire to and their fans demand. This season Tigers’ claws have been blunted at home in 5 Premiership games, most recently by Bristol Bears. So, will they prove to be man eaters or easy meat?
TEAMS UP! Fizz Buzz? Bath v Wasps
Having failed to fizz in defeat at Sale, Bath must next silence Wasps buzz with victory at the Rec. Currently 7th place, Wasps have buzzed only in fits and starts this campaign, slumping to defeat at home last Saturday to Saracens. Both teams will be working out their chances of playoff and Champions Cup positions but while calculating, need to be alert so when their number comes up, they seize the moment. So whose head will be clearest and who will win on Saturday?
Bargain Hunting? Sale v Bath
After flattering to deceive at Gloucester, Bath next travel to a Sale side nursing a grievance. Following a humbling home defeat to Worcester, Sale pulled themselves together and dominated much of a feisty Challenge Cup Semi Final, only to fall to La Rochelle in a match littered with controversial moments. Frustration at such narrow failure should fire them up, as will the knowledge that, like Bath, they now depend on final Premiership position for entry to Champions Cup rugby next season.
Into The Lions’ Den: Gloucester v Bath
Fresh from beating Bristol at Twickenham, Bath’s third successive derby takes them to the Kingsholm Lions’ den. Gloucester claim their rebadging is not a rebrand, like Bristol’s but their Head Coach is a former Golden Lion player and coach, their squad contains four former Lions and they have adopted much of the Transvaalers’ directness and ferocity. They have certainly proven Lion- hearted this season and the Shed will be ready to roar. Will Bath be lambs to the slaughter or Lion tamers?
Derby Day Out: Bath v Bristol (“The Clash”)
Having come away pointless from Exeter Bath must next face another local derby-this time in southwest London. To it’s detractors “the Clash” is pointless, a costly indulgence or giving away home advantage, depending on personal gripe. Its supporters see it as a good day out and a rare chance to back the team at Twickenham. Certainly the 2017 comeback win against Tigers brought happy echoes of 80s and 90s Cup Finals, but now there is a Top 6 place to win and relegation zone to avoid. Can Bath triumph over a fired up Bristol?
Seeking a Miracle: Exeter v Bath. ADD TEAM NEWS HERE
Having kept the faith to defeat Saracens, Bath must next seek a miracle at Sandy Park. Beating Saracens may have restored some of their supporters’ faith but also helped extend Exeter’s lead at the top of the Premiership. Unbeaten in the League at home this season, the Chiefs seem destined to finish top or runners up. Bath, by contrast, have lost touch with the Playoff group and face a dogfight for top European qualification. For them to win at Sandy Park appears a tall order.
Keep the Faith: Bath v Saracens -ADD TEAM HERE
Having surrendered to Quins in the last minute on Saturday Bath must keep the faith on Friday against Saracens. Not necessarily with the game plan, but the self - belief essential to recover from a string of mishaps – a self- belief seemingly absent in 3 of the past 4 Premiership ties. Saracens visit as firm favourites for a bonus point win- while for Bath faith is unlikely to be enough. To win they will probably need to conjure up a miracle – will they have a prayer?
Colourful Challenge: Bath v Harlequins
Having produced a chequered performance in defeat at Northampton, Bath must next withstand Harlequins’ colourful challenge at the Rec. The London club seem secure in 3rd place, have won 4 Premiership ties in a row and are in rich try scoring form. Bath by contrast have been prone to off colour moments in 2 of their last 3 Premiership games, purple patches giving way to pallid errors, letting victory slip at the last. This time, can they be bold and vivid enough to win?
Marching on or Sliding Back? Northampton v Bath
Bath could go marching on with victory over Northampton Saints at Franklin’s Gardens on Saturday. Equally likely, given Saints’ recent form, they could be sent tumbling down. The tie pairs two form sides of the last five Premiership rounds but the hosts boast the more impressive record. They earned 19 points from that Premiership spell, are on a 5 match winning home streak, averaging 8 tries a match in the last three. So will they- as form suggest – prove too strong for Bath?