What's on the line in the final round of the Aviva Premiership?
May 6, 2016
© Matthew Lewis/Getty Images
This weekend sees the final round of the 2015-16 Aviva Premiership season. Saracens, Exeter Chiefs, Wasps and Leicester Tigers have already booked their places in the playoffs but there are home semifinals to fight for and further down the table, teams will be looking to cement their spots for next year's Champions Cup.
ESPN looks at what is on the line heading into round 22 of the English top flight.
Saracens have already secured top place in the Premiership and will be at home against the fourth-placed side in the semifinals. But the battle for second, and the other home semi, is still on. Exeter are in the driving seat two points ahead of third-placed Wasps but Dai Young's team can leapfrog the Chiefs if they win against London Irish and Exeter fall at Harlequins.
If Exeter lose and Wasps win, then Wasps will secure their first home semifinal since 2008. For the Chiefs, this will be their first foray into the playoffs and the omens look good for Rob Baxter's band as they have won their last two visits to the Stoop.
For Leicester, they will be on the road in the Premiership semifinals barring the most monumental points swing. They are three off Wasps in third and five off Exeter in second with the Chiefs benefiting from a superior points difference of +141.
The top-six finish
The battle for the top-six finish is still on, a placing that guarantees Champions Cup rugby next term. Northampton sit pretty in fifth but just two points separate them and seventh. The Saints travel to Gloucester, sixth-placed Quins host the Chiefs and Sale, in seventh, go on the road to Newcastle. There is still a chance for plenty of movement but five-point wins for Saints and Quins guarantee a top-six finish. But if results go their way, Sale could finish as high as fifth.
© Steve Bardens/Getty Images for Harlequins
The Challenge Cup carrot
If Harlequins win their Challenge Cup final against Montpellier on May 13, they will win a spot in next season's Champions Cup regardless of their Premiership position. If Quins finish in the English league's top six and win against Montpellier, then the seventh-placed side qualify for Europe's top tournament, which could benefit Sale. Gloucester also have a chance of finishing sixth but they'd need to thrash Northampton and Sale would have to lose without winning a single point against Newcastle.
Unfortunately for London Irish fans, the Exiles' relegation to the Championship is confirmed barring a minor miracle from Bedford Blues. The Blues are the only side who do not meet the minimum standards criteria for the Premiership so if they win the Championship playoffs, then London Irish would stay up. However, that looks unlikely as the Blues will travel to Bristol for the second leg of their semifinal after losing the first 45-16 at home.
© Tom Hamilton