July 31, 2021

Ollie Phillips: Premiership play-off place is in Harlequins’ grasp

The final weekend of the Premiership season is upon us and theres plenty to play for, with the last play-off spot still up for grabs.

As it stands Northampton Saints are in pole position, occupying fourth, one point ahead of fifth-placed Harlequins. But despite their points advantage Id rather be in Quins position – and thats all because of how the fixtures have fallen.

Saints face a daunting trip down to Devon to play top side Exeter Chiefs, while Quins are going up to Coventry to play eighth-placed Wasps. No matter which way you look at it the London side have the better game.

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Exeters 38-7 trouncing by title rivals Saracens second XI may have been a few weeks ago now, but the loss wont have left Rob Baxter. With the play-offs looming he will want his side to respond well, avenge the defeat and rediscover some form before the seasons conclusion.

Saints have won their last three Premiership games, but I cant see them turning Exeter over at Sandy Park. They could get a losing bonus point, but I think its in Quins hands.

Wasps have lost their last two games to Bath and Saracens (Source: Getty)

Wasps certainly have something to play for, even if its only an outside shot at a Champions Cup place and pride to round off a poor campaign.

Quins have the chance to secure a top-four finish for the first time in five years and a lot of credit must go to Paul Gustard.

The former England defence coach is in his first year as a head of rugby and plenty of questions were asked of his appointment at the start of the season. Hes answered them and looks to have Quins on the way back towards their glory days.

Saturdays clash at the Ricoh Arena promises to be a humdinger and could help cap a fantastic campaign for Gustard. My gut says theyll do it and pip Saints to the post.

England outsiders

Elsewhere, awards season has once again highlighted the unorthodox way England head coach Eddie Jones picks his squads.

Danny Cipriani was named the player of the year by the Rugby Players’ Association for helping Gloucester reach the play-offs for the first time in eight years.

The fly-half has made two appearances under Jones, but considering his talent it makes little sense to me why hes not involved more often.

The RPA Players' Awards 2019
Danny Cipriani was named player of the year by the Rugby Players’ Association (Source: Getty)

I wouldnt be surprised if Cipriani ended up being a curveball selection for this years World Cup, but for now he remains on the fringes.

While Cipriani is at least in Joness thoughts it seems European player of the year Alex Goode isnt. TheRead More – Source




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