Eyes on Europe for mid-table trio

Rob Baxter
Exeter boss Rob Baxter expects a challenging game against Worcester
©Press Association
 

Aviva Premiership's seventh-placed side Wasps, Gloucester in eighth and Exeter Chiefs one place behind now have an eye on Europe following the creation of European Rugby Champions Cup.

Aviva Premiership standings

Pos Team P Pts
1 Saracens 18 72
2 Northampton Saints 18 65
3 Leicester Tigers 18 58
4 Bath 18 55
5 Sale Sharks 18 51
6 Harlequins 18 49
7 London Wasps 18 39
8 Gloucester 18 36
9 Exeter Chiefs 18 35
10 London Irish 18 26
11 Newcastle Falcons
18 19
12 Worcester Warriors 18 10

Standings as at 11th April 2014

After a two-year deadlock was broken and the future of European rugby secured, the team that finishes in seventh place will play off against their French counterparts for a place in next year's premier European competition with the top six teams qualifying automatically.

Wasps currently sit in the key seventh position but are under threat from Gloucester and Exeter.

And the Chiefs could move above the London side if they can beat Worcester Warriors at Sixways on Saturday.

"People are aware there's a play-off for the seventh-placed team to get in the new European competition so I'll be disappointed if we're under-motivated for the game," Exeter head coach Rob Baxter said.

"Worcester have got a great motivation as they have given themselves a real lifeline with their win at Newcastle."

Worcester captain Jonathan Thomas has urged his side to follow up on their 17-12 win away at Newcastle with another strong performance as they try to save their Premiership status.

They are nine points behind Newcastle but they face fixtures against Bath and Saracens in the remaining four games, making their task an enormousy difficult one.

"It has obviously been a frustrating season," number eight Thomas said.

"Losing every week is tough but in the last two months we have really improved and we have been really unlucky.

"We will go into the game trying to win and confident that we can."

Gloucester's push to reach seventh place begins when they host Bath in the west country derby at Kingsholm.

Gloucester lost to Wasps in last week's Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-final 36-24 and Nigel Davies is demanding an immediate response.

"That performance, particularly the first half, was unacceptable and the players have to react to that," the Cherry and Whites boss said.

This weekend's fixtures

Friday

Sale Sharks v Harlequins

Saturday

Gloucester v Bath
Leicester Tigers v London Wasps
Saracens v Northampton Saints
Worcester Warriors v Exeter Chiefs

Sunday

London Irish v Newcastle Falcons

"Bath is a huge game for us, regardless of last weekend, regardless of what type of season we've had. The Gloucester-Bath game is the biggest game of our season."

Wasps, who have a three-point advantage over Gloucester with Exeter one point further back, head to Leicester, resting in-form number eight James Haskell and naming England lock Joe Launchbury on the bench.

Away from the scrap for the European Champions Cup play-off, Saracens host Northampton at Allianz Park in a match that many are predicting will be a dress rehearsal for May's Premiership final.

"It's a big game, first against second. We understand that against them there will be only one important match, which will be the semi-final or the final," Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall said.

Premiership Rugby - Points Table

 

Widely regarded as the most competitive rugby union league in the world...it can only be the Gallagher Premiership.

12 teams compete in the league over a season, playing every team both home and away, before four move into the playoffs and one is relegated.

The division is becoming more and more exciting as each year passes by so who will be lifting silverware at Twickenham in May?

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