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The state of play in Gallagher Premiership Rugby ahead of Round 22

The state of play in Gallagher Premiership Rugby ahead of Round 22

A compelling Gallagher Premiership Rugby regular season concludes this weekend with plenty yet to be decided.

Fresh from their Heineken Champions Cup win over Leinster in Newcastle, holders Saracens will look to pip rivals Exeter Chiefs to first place in the table.

The battle for top four and European spots will also go down to the wire, as Northampton Saints and Harlequins duke it out to secure the remaining semi-final berth.

With so much at stake, Round 22 of Gallagher Premiership Rugby promises to be a fitting finale to this most dramatic of campaigns.

Saracens continue double charge

Dominant more or less from the get-go this season, runaway top two Exeter Chiefs and Saracens have already confirmed home semi-finals at Sandy Park and Allianz Park respectively.

With safe passage confirmed and just four points separating them in the table following Saracens’ 38-7 win over Chiefs at Allianz Park two weeks ago, attention now turns to finishing the campaign on top of the pile.

Both teams have testing final-day assignments, leaders Exeter hosting in-form Northampton and Saracens travelling to Sixways to face a dangerous Worcester Warriors outfit.

Finishing as league leaders may just carry symbolic resonance given the end-of-season format but with the semi-final clashes less than two weeks away, momentum, as ever, will be key.

Top four rivals face tricky tests

And then there were two.

With three semi-final spots already confirmed and a cluster of mid-table sides ruled out of the reckoning, the battle for fourth now comes down to a straight shoot-out between Northampton Saints and Harlequins.

After four wins in their last five league encounters, Chris Boyd’s free-flowing Saints are in the box seat – but a narrow victory last time out at home to Leicester Tigers has left Quins just a point behind in fifth.

On first glance, the Round 22 fixture list favours neither side. Saints, for their part, face the daunting task of a trip to Sandy Park, while Quins meet age-old rivals Wasps in Coventry. 

Whatever happens, we’re in for two final day classics in the West Country and the Midlands as Messrs Biggar, Reinach, Care and Smith seek to propel their sides a step closer to Twickenham.

Bears on the prowl for fairytale ending

Bristol Bears’ first season back in the top-flight has already been one to remember – but there is still a chance it could get even better.

Currently perched in ninth in the Gallagher Premiership Rugby table, it is not inconceivable that victory over Newcastle Falcons this weekend could see Pat Lam’s men seal a Heineken Champions Cup place for next season, especially as Saracens’ Champions Cup win opened up another place for Gallagher Premiership Rugby teams.

Standing in their way, though, are Bath, Sale Sharks and Wasps – all of whom have European ambitions of their own.

Current incumbents Bath travel to Leicester Tigers, with Sale hosting Gloucester and Wasps facing off against Harlequins.

You could lay a glove over the middle of this season’s table, and with no gimmes in this incredibly tight campaign, one thing is for certain: the race for Europe is going down to the wire.

Departing stars look to sign off in style

As ever, the final day of the regular league season offers supporters the opportunity to say goodbye to departing club legends.

Wasps’ Willie le Roux and Northampton Saints’ Luther Burrell are just two Gallagher Premiership Rugby stars who could bow out this weekend.

Both will be hoping for one final swansong before they leave for Japan and rugby league respectively.

Expect the talented duo to go out all guns blazing as they seek to give fans one final reminder of their enduring quality.

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