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End is nigh for London Welsh in a huge weekend of Premiership Rugby

With just three weeks to go in the Aviva Premiership before the start of the play-offs every fixture becomes ever more important as the intensity for places in the top four intensifies and the battle to avoid the drop become increasingly clear cut.

There are two particularly eye catching fixtures in that regard this weekend with the bottom two clubs facing the fourth and fifth placed clubs.

First up is Sale Sharks v Gloucester on Friday night; Sale sit 11th, eight points clear of London Welsh at the bottom, while Gloucester are in fifth place, tied on points with Northampton in fourth and just two points adrift of Harlequins in third.

A win for Sale would almost certainly leave them clear of the threat of relegation, it would mean London Welsh would require two bonus point wins and a further two points from their remaining three fixtures, a highly improbably situation, a loss for London Welsh would mean relegation in that scenario.

For Gloucester a win would really heap the pressure on Saints and Quins, and, with the greatest of respect to Sale, the opportunity for a bonus point could make a real difference here.

Saints also have a bonus point opportunity though; they take on London Welsh for whom anything but a victory will make the challenge of staying up near enough impossible, while if Sale beat Gloucester then Welsh’s challenge is all but over as we said.

The other intriguing clash this weekend is Harlequins v Bath on Saturday afternoon. Harlequins have been in a bit of a disastrous run of form of late a desperately need to get back to form before they seriously risk missing out on a top four place, a scenario that would have been almost unthinkable just a few short months ago.

For Bath it is a real opportunity to create a bit of distance between themselves in sixth and Wasps in seventh, therefore increasing their chances of Heineken Cup qualification.

Bath’s chances a further helped by the fact that Wasps face a tricky away trip on Sunday to Welford Road where Leicester Tigers will be looking to avenge their defeat to Toulon last week and to shore up their chances of securing a home Premiership semi-final.

Like Bath and Wasps, Exeter also have hopes of finishing in the Heineken Cup places, just two points separate the three clubs and with Exeter welcoming London Irish to Sandy Park on Saturday it is perhaps the Chiefs who are most likely to be sitting pretty in the Heineken Cup spots by Monday morning.

Finally, table toppers Saracens play Worcester on Sunday afternoon, a win will secure Saracens a home semi final, meaning that they will be able to focus almost entirely on their Heineken Cup semi final on April 28th, a point of any kind will mathematically rule Worcester out of any relegation battle, though in effect they are already very much ruled out of the battle.

It could well be an interesting weekend then, our first home semi finalist could be confirmed while if Sale win and London Welsh lose then the relegation battle will also be over in a battle which looked to be going down to the wire.

Fixtures:

Friday:

Sale Sharks v Gloucester 19.45

Saturday:

Harlequins v Bath 14.15

Exeter v London Irish 15.00

Sunday:

London Welsh v Northampton Saints 15.00

Saracens v Worcester 15.00

Leicester Tigers v London Wasps 15.45

Aviva Premiership Table

Position

Team

Played

Won

Drawn

Lost

Bonus

Points

1

Saracens

19

15

1

3

5

67

2

Leicester

19

13

1

5

9

63

3

Harlequins

19

12

0

7

8

56

4

Northampton

19

12

0

7

6

54

5

Gloucester

19

11

1

7

8

54

6

Bath

19

9

1

9

10

48

7

Wasps

19

9

0

10

11

47

8

Exeter

19

9

1

9

8

46

9

Worcester

19

5

1

13

11

33

10

London Irish

19

6

1

12

4

30

11

Sale

19

5

1

13

4

26

12

London Welsh

19

4

0

15

7

18*

*London Welsh deducted 5 points for fielding an ineligible player.

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