If things had gone differently then London Welsh’s trip to the Madejski Stadium could have had far more riding on it than just pride.
But even though that is now the case London Irish’s Marland Yarde believes the fans could be in for a real treat with both teams now free from the shackles that have weighed them down this Aviva Premiership season.
Despite losing 27-6 to Exeter Chiefs on Saturday, London Irish’s Aviva Premiership status was secured 24 hours later with London Welsh guaranteed to finish bottom of the table after suffering defeat to Northampton Saints.
The timing couldn’t have been worse for London Welsh as their last victory before embarking on a ten-game losing streak came when they got the better of Irish 15-9 in round ten.
But with both side’s now able to express themselves with their paths already mapped out in front of them, Yarde is predicting a free-flowing game on Saturday.
“The Exeter game wasn’t a great result,” he said. “We took the game to them in the first half and attacked them well, we were really at the races but we lacked that cutting edge.
“But we’ve been working hard all week, there are lessons to be learnt and hopefully we can take them into the weekend with a few shackles off knowing that we’re safe.
“I think it’s going to be quite an expansive game, the shackles will be off for both sides and we’re really looking forward to it.
“We’ve been training all week looking to do so, there’s nothing to lose for either side now, I think it’s going to be a really exciting game.
“They might have a point to prove, but so will we after the loss at the weekend.”
Despite having beaten Irish earlier in the season London Welsh will still be looking to something no other team has done and leave the Madejski Stadium with a 2013 Aviva Premiership win under their belts.
And although London Welsh are condemned to finish bottom, Gordon Ross doesn’t want his side to go out with a whimper.
Ross said: “London Irish have been on some really good form in the last few months, especially at home so we know they will be a very tough opposition.
“But I think it would be terrible if we didn’t do ourselves justice for the last two matches after what we have achieved so far this season.
“We let the occasion get the better of us last time out against Northampton but we can’t let that happen again.
“We have to lift ourselves after a difficult week. It will be a tough challenge, both mentally and physically, but it’s up to us to prove in our last two matches that we belonged in the Premiership.
“The target is to win both matches, it won’t be easy but we want to go out on a high, starting against London Irish.”
Referee: Dean Richards (58th Premiership game)
Assistant Referees: Gareth Copsey & Nigel Carrick.