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Gallagher Premiership Weekend – Finals Preview

We’ve reached the final round of the regular season, with three teams still in contention for a place in the top four and a place in the Premiership semi-finals.

Expect many more twists and turns in one of the most unpredictable campaigns in living memory as the race to crown English rugby draws to a close.

With an exciting weekend of domestic drama, read on for a preview including live stream information for our televised matches.

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Watch live stream from 2:30 p.m

Gloucester are targeting a fifth semi-final and their first since 2019 to stay on course for a first Premiership crown.

The visitors of Saracen have reached the last four for the 12th time in Premier League history and will play at home for the seventh time in their first season in the top flight.

The Londoners’ only defeat in their last 10 league games was 30-32 at London Irish in round 17, but Gloucester head coach George Skivington has promised his side will “pack up and see what happens” in their battle for the play-offs . .

Skivington, who recently signed a new long-term contract as head coach, has turned Gloucester into a play-off challenger after finishing 11th last season.

“There’s no point in saying it’s just another game,” Skivington said.

“Everyone knows the permutations and when you start pre-season you want a chance to get into the playoffs.

“We still have one game and a small chance of the playoffs. We need a few things to get in our way, but there’s a chance for us.”

It’s a tall order for West Country Club and the odds are against them securing a top four finish.

Not only do they need to beat the high-flying Saracens at Kingsholm, but Gloucester also need play-off rivals Northampton to lose to Newcastle at home.

If the Saints win, Gloucester’s result is irrelevant as Northampton would join Saracens, Leicester and Harlequins in the semi-finals on June 11.

On Saturday, these two teams meet for the second time in less than three weeks.

Saracens defeated Gloucester 44–15, scoring five tries in a European Challenge Cup quarter-finals win, before losing to Toulon in the last four.

Losing to Quins last weekend means the Gloucester playoffs are at stake

Northampton versus Newcastle – 2:30pm, BT Sport 1HD and BT Sport Ultimate

Watch live stream from 2:30 p.m

In-form Northampton Saints are attempting to reach their 10th Premiership semi-final and first since 2019.

The Saints are on pole position to claim fourth after grabbing two bonus points from a 43-38 loss at the Saracens last weekend that left their fate in their own hands.

Indeed, it’s an easy task for the Saints who know a home win over Newcastle would guarantee them a play-off spot ahead of Gloucester and Sale.

Newcastle are seven places and 37 points behind Northampton but outgoing Saints rugby director Chris Boyd expects a tough encounter in Dean Richards’ final game as Falcons rugby director.

“He (Richards) has had a great run in the Premiership over a long period,” said Boyd.

“He was a great servant of English rugby as a player and as a coach. He is a good man.

“They have an aggressive package with a lot of runners in the backline. They have some dangerous backs and we certainly won’t take them lightly because we haven’t had a great track record against them.”

Boyd returns to his native New Zealand at the end of the season after four years climbing from his current coaching staff to rugby director and head coach with Phil Dowson and Sam Vesty, while retaining his position as long-distance adviser.

Northampton captain Lewis Ludlam could be available for Saturday’s crucial Gallagher Premiership clash with Newcastle after missing England’s most recent training camp through injury.

Ludlam withdrew from the three-day gathering over a thumb problem he suffered in the Saints’ 42-38 loss at Saracens 10 days ago.

Exeter Chiefs v Harlequins, kick-off at 3pm

Comeback kings and defending champions Harlequins secured their place in the Premiership play-offs after beating Gloucester 28-24 last time out at Twickenham.

They are now expected to play Saracens away in the semi-finals next month, with Mark McCall’s men chasing Premiership winners for the sixth time.

Defending champions Quins messed up the odds of beating Exeter and their first title since 2012 last season, but leaders Leicester and Saracens are favored in betting on reaching the Twickenham showpiece on June 18.

Alex Dombrandt says the Harlequins’ doubters are a driving force behind their bid to successfully defend their title.

“There’s a massive desire to do it (to win the title again),” said Quins and England forward Dombrandt.

“A lot of people said last year that we can’t do it and even though we’ve proved we can, I think there’s still a lot of people who don’t think we can do it again.

“They think we’re lucky to be back in the top four. That spurs us on.”

Meanwhile, on Saturday the hosts of Exeter had ended their hopes of making the play-offs for a seventh consecutive season after Bristol beat them 40-33 at Ashton Gate.

With their chances of making the last four hanging by a thread, the Chiefs fought back in a thriller with 11 tries from 14 points behind.

But two late attempts from the Bears brought the hosts home, ending Exeter’s remarkable run of six straight finals since 2015.

Leicester Tigers vs Wasps, kick-off at 3pm

Leaders Leicester Tigers will be eager to inject some winning momentum into the play-offs as they entertain the European-chased Wasps at Welford Road.

The Tigers are already guaranteed a home semi-final but look to end the regular season on a high after a phenomenal season.

11 June will be Leicester’s first appearance in the semi-finals since 2017 and their first appearance at home in nine years, which is why head coach Steve Borthwich is keen to treat Saturday’s encounter as a dress rehearsal for the main event in two weeks’ time.

Indeed, a 24th league win this season would ensure the Tigers would end the campaign with a perfect home record for the first time since the club’s 2001/02 league and European double victory.

In the meantime, Wasps’ visitors are hoping to spoil the end-of-season party as they attempt to secure a spot in next season’s Heineken Champions Cup.

The Midlanders are three points off the last place in qualifying but a win of any kind against leaders Leicester will see them move up to eighth place and overtake the London Irish who are awaiting a bye.

Two-time winners Exeter will miss the play-offs for the first time in seven years

Sale Sharks v Bristol Bears, kick-off at 3pm

Two of last season’s semi-finalists meet at the AJ Stadium on Saturday afternoon when the Sale Sharks host the Bristol Bears in a repeat of their round of 16 tie at the Heineken Cup.

Sale was the winner over two stages in Europe before being knocked out of the competition by eventual winner La Rochelle.

Now the Salford side return to home duties in a bid to secure a spot in next season’s Heineken Cup.

The Sharks retain a mathematical chance to snag fourth and last place in the semifinals but it would take exceptional slips from Gloucester and Northampton.

2006 Premiership champions Sale need to beat Bristol by a bonus point and hope Gloucester and Saints both fail to pick up a significant point to reach the play-offs for a second straight season.

Sixth in the standings going into last weekend, Alex Sanderson’s men need just any point to secure a spot in the top eight, with the ninth-placed Wasps hoping to capitalize on any slip-ups by teams above them.

Meanwhile, Gast Bristol will look to avenge their defeat in Europe as they look to end a season they will forget on a high.

The Bears were preparing for a semifinal showdown with eventual champion Harlequins this time last year, but Pat Lam’s men struggled to confirm last season’s top spot.

Worcester Warriors vs Bath, kick-off at 3pm

Basement boys Worcester Warriors and Bath meet in a shootout at bottom at Sixways, with both teams looking to end their seasons on a high.

With 17 losses and just five wins, both sides have identical records, with Worcester sitting below Bath in 13th place on fewer bonus points.

All of this makes for a winner-takes-all match, with the final spot in the Premiership pile at stake.

Fallen West Country giants Bath head to Sixways after winning just once on the road all season, while Worcester have been winless in the league since they upset Exeter at home in March.

While Bath got off the ground with a brave 27-24 win over London Irish last time out, Worcester are on cloud nine having lifted their first major trophy towards the end of last month.

The Warriors were crowned champions of the Premiership Cup final after scoring the most tries in a dramatic 25-25 draw against London Irish at Brentford Community Stadium.

Now Steve Diamond’s men are hoping to crawl off the bottom of the table and give their long-suffering fans something to cheer for as the curtain falls on another disappointing league campaign.

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