Aviva Premiership: Harlequins set to snatch semi-final spot with crucial Bath win

Nick Evans helped Harlequins to a dramatic comeback win at Exeter last weekend
Nick Evans helped Harlequins to a dramatic comeback win at Exeter last weekend

Simon Mail previews the final day of the regular season and fancies Harlequins to prevail in the winner takes all clash and steal a semi-final spot from Bath...

"All the momentum appears to be with Harlequins after their recent upturn in form which has seen them win four consecutive Premiership games."

Harlequins v Bath
Saturday May 10, 15:15
Live on BT Sport 1 

After 21 matches it has all come down to the final game of the regular season to decide whether Harlequins or Bath claim a top-four finish. The visitors have been in pole position for most of the campaign but could see their title hopes disappear if they are beaten this weekend. Quins must win, whilst making sure Bath do not pick up more than one bonus point, to leapfrog their opponents and clinch a semi-final spot.

All the momentum appears to be with Harlequins after their recent upturn in form which has seen them win four consecutive Premiership games. Conor O'Shea's side had to show all their character last weekend at Exeter Chiefs when they were facing defeat trailing 16-5 at the break. Quins battled back to claim a dramatic 30-29 win which will send them into this decider in great heart. 

Bath have been excellent this season but their supporters must be fearing all their hard work could come to nothing domestically in this final league match. Their side were held at home to Northampton last weekend and have seen their top-four cushion slowly eroded over recent weeks. Mike Ford's team have looked probable semi-finalists for most of the season but still require another big performance to seal this spot.

With the home fans behind them, Harlequins will be difficult to stop. The 2012 champions have been laboured for much of the season but the return of England internationals such as Chris Robshaw, Danny Care and Mike Brown has reinvigorated them and they will fancy their chances of toppling Bath. The visitors have not won at the Stoop for eight years and Quins look the best bet to edge this one and pinch a play-off place from their opponents' grasp. The hosts should get off to a fast start so it also looks worth backing them in the half-time full-time market.
 
Recommended Bets:
Back Harlequins to win by under 12.5 points at 2.47/5
Back Harlequins/Harlequins in the Half Time/Full Time market at 21/1

Northampton Saints v London Wasps
Saturday May 10, 15:15
Live on BT Sport 2

Northampton Saints are on the verge of sealing a home semi-final with the hosts requiring just one point to finish in the top two. The Saints have kept pace with Saracens for most of the season although a few indifferent recent results have enabled the Men in Black to ease clear in first place. Northampton reached the Premiership final last season and will be confident of a return to Twickenham at the end of this month.

Jim Mallinder's side have only won one of their last five league matches but he will not be overly concerned. Northampton came away with a creditable draw at Bath last weekend and the Saints appear to be getting back to top form ahead of the most important stage of the season. In all likelihood Northampton will face a home clash against Midlands rivals Leicester Tigers in the last-four.

London Wasps have already guaranteed themselves seventh place in the league which has handed them a two-legged play-off with Stade Francais for a place in next season's European Rugby Champions Cup. One eye will be turned towards this tie, which has resulted in Dai Young making 11 changes, with nothing at stake for them in the final league game. But Wasps come into this match in decent shape with back-to-back Premiership wins.  

Northampton will be looking to gain momentum ahead of the play-offs and Mallinder's side can be expected to get off to a quick start. The Saints have an exceptional record against Wasps with nine successive wins over them going back to 2009. Northampton should not have too much difficulty extending this run and the hosts are fancied to produce a dominant display with a significant margin of victory. 

Recommended Bets:
Back Northampton to win by over 12.5 points at 21/1

Follow Simon's bets on Twitter @watfordtipster  

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