Round Four of the Premiership Rugby Cup: The state of play
Having been placed on ice since last November, the Premiership Rugby Cup takes centre stage once again over the next two weekends – and it’s do or die.
Gallagher Premiership Rugby sides enter the last-chance saloon in the fourth and final round of pool fixtures and if the stakes weren’t already high enough, six Derby Day fixtures are on the menu.
There’s certain to be drama unabated, with the first three showdowns taking place this coming Saturday, so here’s a reminder of how things stand heading into round four of the Cup.
Can the Chiefs stay unbeaten?
One of two teams in the competition yet to taste defeat, Exeter Chiefs are in the box seat in Pool One.
However, the Chiefs, who have two wins and a draw to their name heading into Round Four, will need a positive result on the road this weekend when they travel to Ashton Gate to take on west Country rivals Bristol Bears (kick-off 3pm).
Newcastle Falcons are second in the pool, a point behind Exeter – they go to Sale Sharks on February 3 – while fourth-placed Bath Rugby bring the curtain down on their campaign against Gloucester Rugby at the Rec on the same day.
Third-placed Harlequins are also in action on Saturday, as they face the unenviable task of rolling out the red carpet for unbeaten Saracens (kick-off 3pm).
Something’s gotta give in Pool Two
Two teams are locked on 11 points at the top of Pool Two and it’s Saracens that will make the first move in a bid to win the group.
They head to the Stoop to face Harlequins this coming Saturday, looking to maintain their unbeaten record having recorded two home wins and a draw at Sale Sharks thus far.
Worcester Warriors – beaten 34-22 by Saracens last time out – are currently top of the pile due to their superior points difference and they’ll be interested observers of what happens between Saracens and Quins whilst also waiting patiently for their meeting with Wasps at Sixways on February 3 (kick-off 3pm).
Fourth-placed Leicester Tigers go to Northampton Saints this weekend (kick-off 3pm) while third-placed Sale, who had six points to their name, could take advantage of any slip-ups when they host Newcastle next month.
A nail-biting finish looms
Pool Three is finely poised as the tightest of the three groups in the competition, with three teams separated by just a single point.
Northampton Saints go into Round Four in first place, with 10 points to their name, but both Bristol and Gloucester – each on nine points – are breathing down their necks.
Saints’ task is to hold their nerve and get the job done as they host Leicester at Franklin’s Gardens this Saturday while the Bears, who currently lie third, require a positive result at home to Exeter on the same day.
On February 3, it will be Gloucester’s turn to chance their arm at near neighbours Bath while Wasps end their Cup interest with a trip to Worcester.