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Aviva A League semi-finalists confirmed

Bath United will face Worcester Cavaliers in the Aviva A League semi-finals after they downed rivals Exeter Braves by 18-17 in a gripping encounter at Sandy Park.

Braves fly-half Ceri Sweeney had the chance to snatch victory with the last kick of the game but pushed his penalty attempt wide as second-half tries from Richard Lane and Semesa Rokoduguni ultimately made the difference.

The hosts led 14-6 at the interval thanks to converted scores from Sam Simmonds and Byron McGuigan before Bath hit back, with cross-code star Sam Burgess also enjoying a fine game for the Rec outfit at blindside flanker. 

With Saracens Storm having qualified from the Southern Conference in first place, Bath's victory means they take on Worcester at Sixways next Monday for a place in the Aviva A League final on 12 January.

The Cavaliers secured top spot in the Northern Conference with a 100 per cent record, including imposing bonus-point victories over Leicester Tigers and nearest rivals Newcastle Falcons as they scored 31 tries in total.
 
They also had to show impressive resolve against Sale Jets as they overturned a 22-7 half-time deficit, scoring 20 unanswered points to maintain their unbeaten run with a 27-22 triumph.

Despite edging their way into the semi-finals, Bath will be a dangerous proposition as their impressive depth allowed them to call on the likes of Burgess, Rokoduguni and Peter Stringer against the Braves.

Apart from a narrow defeat to Saracens, Bath emerged victorious in five matches as they defeated Harlequins, London Irish, London Welsh and Wasps in imperious fashion before the narrow win against Exeter.

In the other semi-final, Saracens Storm will host Newcastle Falcons at Allianz Park after enjoying a flawless campaign with six wins from six.

Saracens inflicted heavy defeats on Exeter Braves and Wasps and had the league's sturdiest defence, conceding only nine tries.
 
Yet the Storm could have surrendered their home semi final to eventual runners-up Bath, had it not been for Jack Wilson's last-gasp try that secured his side a 27-22 win at the Rec.

Falcons cemented second place in the Northern Conference with a clinical bonus-point victory over Northampton last week.

Despite falling to a rampant Worcester, Falcons enjoyed a successful campaign, notching notable wins against Leicester Tigers and Gloucester United to reach the semi-finals.

When the teams face off in the semi-finals on 5 January, not only will a place in the Aviva A League Final be at stake but also the chance to host the showpiece event.

With Worcester scoring the highest number of tries, a victory for the hosts over Bath will also see them host the final at Sixways.
 
Should Bath emerge triumphant and Saracens win their encounter, Saracens Storm will earn the right to host the final as they won the Southern Conference.

Newcastle are the only side who do not have the chance to secure a home final as should both they and Bath win their respective games, the West Country outfit will host on 12 January having scored more tries than Falcons during the group stage.

The Aviva 'A' League semi-finals will take place on Monday 5 January:

*       Saracens Storm v Newcastle Falcons at Allianz Park

*       Worcester Cavaliers v Bath United at Sixways

Tickets will be available on the gates.

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