Premiership Rugby: Harlequins put pressure on Saints in top four race

Harlequins scrum-half Danny Care
Harlequins are fifth with one game remaining

Simon Mail previews the final day of the Premiership regular season with Northampton and Harlequins battling to secure the final semi-final spot...

"Harlequins have Northampton in their sights and a victory in their final game at Wasps could be enough to see them edge into the semi-finals."

Saints could miss out on top four

Exeter v Northampton

Saturday, 16:00
Live on BT Sport 1

The final semi-final spot in the Premiership is on the line on the final day of the regular season with Northampton bidding to hold onto fourth spot. The Saints have a one-point advantage over Harlequins, with the two teams fighting it out to extend their season, but it's Northampton who face the more difficult final league game.

A tough trip to Premiership leaders Exeter lies in store for Saints but Chris Boyd's side at least bring momentum into the contest. The Saints come into the match on the back of three successive victories. Northampton clinched a 20-19 victory at rivals Harlequins before sending Newcastle towards relegation at Kingston Park. In their last match, Saints eased to a 38-10 bonus-point win over Worcester.

Exeter only need two points to guarantee finishing first in the regular season after another highly impressive campaign from Rob Baxter's side. The Chiefs have won 16 of their 21 matches and are on course to return to the final after losing to Saracens at Twickenham last season. Exeter lost 38-7 to second-placed Saracens in their last game, although Baxter made significant changes to the side with a top-two finish already secure.

Northampton defeated Exeter 31-28 at home back in December and the Saints will make it difficult for their opponents as they look to hold onto fourth and a likely return to Sandy Park in the semi-final. Exeter have not been at their best recently but the Chiefs are still fancied to win this by up to 12 points, leaving Northampton nervously waiting on the result in Coventry.


Quins to boost their hopes with win

Wasps v Harlequins
Saturday, 16:00
Live on BT Sport 3

Harlequins have Northampton in their sights and a victory in their final game at Wasps could be enough to see them edge into the semi-finals. It has been a season of progress under Paul Gustard in his first season in charge and if he can guide the side into the top four it will be seen as an excellent campaign after several disappointing years in the Premiership.

Their 23-19 home win over Leicester in the last round kept them in touch with Northampton heading into the final weekend. Quins badly needed this result after a run of five successive league defeats but it has given them the chance to overhaul the Saints. It is five years since their last semi-final appearance as they bid to challenge for a second title.

Wasps have been a big disappointment this season with Dai Young's side falling short of their recent standards. After finishing inside the top three for the last three seasons, Wasps realistically cannot end any higher than seventh in the Premiership. Wasps were beaten 29-17 at Bath in their last game - their 12th defeat of the season.

This match appears to have false favourites with Wasps hard to trust this season. Harlequins have no shortage of motivation and will be confident about gaining a positive result at the Ricoh Arena where Wasps have won only once since January. Quins defeated Wasps 20-13 at Twickenham back in December and the visitors look worth backing to claim another win which could extend their season.

Follow Simon's bets on Twitter @watfordtipster

P/L 2018-19 season

Staked: 105.5pts
Returned: 106.1pts
P/L: 0.6pts

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