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Aviva Premiership
Premiership promises stinger of a weekend
ESPN Staff
April 19, 2014
Manu Tuilagi has shone for Leicester since his return from injury in March © Getty Images

The Aviva Premiership is well and truly entering the sharp end of the season, with play-off spots, European entry and even relegation yet to be finalised. With three rounds of Premiership action left and most clubs still with something to play for, ESPN brings you a preview of the weekend's matches.

Bath Rugby v Worcester Warriors

Saturday, Recreation Ground, 3pm

Form: Bath (home) LLWWW ; Worcester Warriors (away) WLLLL

Team News

Their heads surely still spinning from last Saturday's Battle of the West Country, Bath will be relieved to come up against bottom-of-the-pile Worcester in what should be the easiest match of their season. However, Worcester have not given up all hope of escaping relegation, so Bath head coach Mike Ford will have to guard against complacency at the Rec.

  • The Bath trio of Dave Attwood, Carl Fearns and Matt Garvey sin-binned against Gloucester have escaped further punishment, but retrospective yellows have been dished out to Nick Abendanon and Paul James.
  • Worcester have won just once in the Premiership all season - in their last away match, at Newcastle Falcons.

Exeter Chiefs v Sale Sharks

Saturday, Sandy Park, 3pm

Form: Exeter Chiefs (home) LWLLW ; Sale Sharks (away) WWWWL

Team News

It is sixth v seventh at Sandy Park, but Sale lead Exeter by a healthy nine points in the league standings. Exeter are in a precarious position in seventh place, which now brings the chance of entry into the new European Rugby Champions Cup via a play-off against the seventh-placed Top 14 side. Wasps are just one point behind the Chiefs, who will know a slip-up against Sale could cost them their shot at Europe's new order.

  • Exeter have won four of their last five Aviva Premiership meetings with Sale.
  • Sale's Danny Cipriani was named Premiership player of the month for March and impressed again during their recent loss to Harlequins.

London Wasps v Gloucester Rugby

Saturday, Twickenham, 3.15pm

Form: London Wasps (home) LLLWL ; Gloucester Rugby (away) WLLLW

Team News

Wasps' showpiece event sees them welcome Gloucester to Twickenham in 'the Stinger'. While it is sure to be a great occasion for the fans, Wasps say they have only sold 35,000 tickets - a long way short of the 83,000 that Saracens' shifted for their blockbuster match against Harlequins at Wembley. But amid the hullabaloo at HQ, there is a serious rugby match to be played. Gloucester need to get back on the straight and narrow after last Saturday's punch-up with Bath, while Wasps are just two points clear of the visitors and chasing Exeter's European play-off spot.

  • Wasps have one victory in seven league matches, the solitary win coming against bottom club Worcester.
  • Gloucester will be without suspended duo Tavis Knoyle and Sila Puafisi after both were sent off against Bath.

Northampton Saints v London Irish

Sunday, Franklin's Gardens, 2pm, BT Sport

Form: Northampton Saints (home) LWWWW ; London Irish (away) LLWWL

Team News

Whisper it, but the wheels look as though they are slowly coming off Northampton's season. Three straight defeats in the Premiership leave the second-placed Saints vulnerable to a rampant Leicester, who are just three points behind them and eager for a home play-off. London Irish are coming off the back of a comprehensive win over Newcastle Falcons but could run smack into a Northampton revival on Sunday.

  • Northampton have won three of their last four Premiership matches against London Irish.
  • Irish have not scored a try away from home in the Premiership since David Paice crossed the whitewash against Wasps on February 15.

Newcastle Falcons v Saracens

Sunday, Kingston Park, 3pm

Form: Newcastle Falcons (home) LLLLL ; Saracens (away) WWWWW

Team News

The omens do not look good for Newcastle, who have lost all but one of their home league matches this season. Table-toppers Saracens have enjoyed very different fortunes, winning their last six away games in the Premiership. And while the Falcons could do with a win to keep Worcester from snapping at their heels, they cannot expect the ruthless Saracens to do them any favours.

  • Saracens have secured a play-off spot for the fifth year in a row and victory on Sunday would give them a home semi-final.
  • Newcastle last beat Saracens in February 2009, a narrow 13-9 victory at Kingston Park.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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