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Preview: Harlequins v Bath

Preview: Harlequins v Bath

It may have been two weeks since their last competitive match but Paul James insists Bath Rugby have not been taking it easy as they look to reach the Aviva Premiership Rugby semi-finals with victory over Harlequins.

Bath have not reached the semi-finals since 2010 but a win at Twickenham Stoop on Friday would secure a top-four finish with one round still to go.

The West Country side are certainly one of the form sides having won their last four league matches while they hold the second best away record in the competition behind league leaders Northampton Saints.

They have also defeated Harlequins twice this season, 25-6 in the league at the Rec in November and 23-21 in the LV= Cup in January.

But James is not taking anything for granted, insisting second-placed Bath cannot take their foot off the gas with four games still to come before any Aviva Premiership title winner is decided.

“Confidence is pretty high at the moment, it’s been going well for us – but as a group we always want to improve, so we are putting all the work we can in to make sure we are ready for Quins,” he said.

“Momentum is key, it has been going nicely but we understand we have got to be living in the here and now. It’s about taking each day and each game as it comes and we are still building as the season goes on. 

“They are a dangerous team and it is their last home game of the season, so they will be wanting to go out with a bang. They have great attacking threats, so we have to do our homework to be prepared, and then we have to be switched on from the first minute.

“Our boys behind the scrum are class and if they get space out there they can cause serious damage – so we have been working hard to make sure we can give the backs that space and the ball to do damage with.

“As forwards we put lots of work in, we were in training last week putting in big shifts, and hopefully it all pays off.”

Bath will not have things all their own way in Twickenham though with Quins themselves also building up a head of steam having lost just once in their last four games – that defeat coming against Saracens at Wembley in March.

The top four is out of reach – the first time Harlequins have missed out on the semi-finals since 2011 – although slim hopes of qualifying for the European Rugby Champions Cup remain.

The team will need maximum points from their last two fixtures to put them in with a shout and centre Harry Sloan insists the team remains optimistic they can take it to the wire.

“We are preparing properly, we still have a chance to come sixth. If we can get a bonus-point win and take it to the last day that will be a big boost,” he said.

“We can still do it, 100 per cent, though of course it is not in our hands and we need things to go our way. But every game is still like a cup final for me, so it would be good to play a part in coming away with a win.

“It’s the last game of the season at the Stoop and a good opportunity for me to play against a team like Bath.”

Twickenham Stoop, 7.45pm – Live on BT Sport

Referee: Greg Garner (81st Premiership game)
Assistant Referees: Ashley Rowden & JP Doyle. TMO: Rowan Kitt


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