English Premiership: Who will finish in the top four in the play-offs?

  • By Sophie Hurcom
  • bbc sport

image source, Rex Features


Eight teams are still in the race to finish in the top four, along with Saracens.

There are only four rounds of the Premiership left and the race for the top four is coming to a close.

Current league leaders Saracens are 16 points off fifth place and have already secured their place in the play-offs.

Sale, eight points clear in second place, is almost certain to join them, unless he completely collapses.

At the bottom of the table, only Newcastle and Bath -12 points behind the rest- are out of the fight for the top four.

But that means there are still seven other clubs besides Sale vying for the remaining play-off spots.

BBC Sport takes a look at how each club can fare and how their chances of clinching a coveted top four spot stack up.

Second: Sale – 56 points

Still to play: A Bristol, A Gloucester, H Newcastle

image source, fake images


Sale has a four-week gap between his last Premiership game and his next match

Sale have not broken out of the top two all season and unless total disaster befalls them, there is a good chance they will join Sarries in booking a home semi-final.

Eight points clear of Leicester and Northampton, the Sharks need in all likelihood just seven points from their last three games, away to Bristol and Gloucester, and Newcastle, to guarantee second place.

It hasn’t been entirely easy of late though, as three of their six league defeats this season have come in the last four games.

A week off this weekend means they won’t play in the league again until April 14, with director of rugby Alex Sanderson focused on restarting training camp before the final push.

“I’m channeling my efforts to get our guys in shape that is worth the effort we’ve put in so far,” he said.

Third: Leicester – 48 points

Still to be played – H Bristol, H Exeter, H Harlequins

image source, fake images


Leicester seem to have timed their run to the play-offs perfectly in the last two months.

Last season’s champions are one of the in-form contenders, having won their last four league matches despite being without a host of key players during the Six Nations period.

“Five weeks ago our morale was low, it was difficult. We had just lost two games and then two more from our managers and we were struggling,” winger Harry Potter told BBC Radio Leicester.

“The last four weeks morale has been lifted, the team has come together and we’ve just seen how strong it is and can be. The side effect is everyone feeling much more positive and excited for what’s to come.”

Leicester can also rely on home advantage for their last three games, with Bristol, Exeter and Harlequins all having to visit Welford Road.

Fourth: Northampton – 48 points

Still to play: A London Irish, H Saracens, A Newcastle

image source, fake images


Fly-half Fin Smith says the Saints’ next three games are the “biggest I’ve ever played in”

Saints are aiming to match last year’s success by reaching the semi-finals, although it has been nine years since they reached the final (when they won the title in 2013-14).

They have scored the most points, 494, of any team in the league this season, but conversely, they have also conceded the most, their tally of 540 out of 100 more than any team.

That sizeable minus points difference could be their undoing if they end up level with another club on points and wins.

On the bright side, unlike most of their rivals, Saints Northampton are no longer in European action and can focus on the Premiership, starting on Saturday at London Irish, where they have won on their last two visits.

“I would like to be in the top two and that’s what we’re really trying to do,” director of rugby Phil Dowson told BBC Radio Northampton. “We’re not exactly where we want to be, but we’re not a million miles away and we’re working hard to get there.”

Fifth: London Irish – 46 points

Still to be played – H Northampton, A Saracens, H Exeter

image source, fake images


London Irish stopped Sale in his last game for a fifth win in six matches

London Irish have not finished in the top four of the Premiership since the 2008-09 season, so a semi-final berth would not only mark a huge step forward for a club threatened with relegation a few years ago, but also a remarkable turnaround. for your campaign.

The Exiles lost seven of their first eight league games and languished at the bottom of the table until a win over similarly troubled Bristol in January launched their league run, with seven wins from their last nine.

They are now just two points out of the top four and would overtake Northampton if they beat the Saints on Saturday.

“We like to think we’ve grown as a team,” said director of rugby Declan Kidney. “This is the end of the business and we have to see if we have learned enough to deal with the pressure that will come this weekend.”

“We have a good balance in our game now and I think that’s there to be seen.”

Sixth: Exeter – 43 points

Still to be played – A Bath A Leicester H Bristol A London Irish

image source, fake images


Rob Baxter hopes to lead his team back to the play-offs after missing out last season.

Exeter missed out on the top four last season for the first time since 2016 and the two-time Premiership champions currently sit five points adrift, although they have one game left in the four teams above them.

The concern for the Chiefs is that their away form this season has been poor, with just two wins, and three of their last four league games are away.

Director of rugby Rob Baxter said Sunday’s game at bottom-placed Bath is indeed their game in hand, ahead of three “10 points” against play-off rivals Bristol, Leicester and London. Irish.

“If we can get something out of the Bath game, it makes every week a very interesting challenge for us and the opposition,” he told BBC Radio Devon. “We will know a lot more where we stand.”

Seventh: Bristol – 41 points

Still to play: A Leicester, H Sale, A Exeter, H Gloucester

image source, Rex Features


Four straight wins have thrown Bristol back into contention for a top four finish.

After a poor first half of the season in which Bristol languished at the bottom of the table, questions were raised about director of rugby union Pat Lam’s philosophy and whether the club, which finished top two seasons ago, had stagnant.

Bristol weren’t even in the conversation for a play-off place before four straight wins during February and March propelled them within seven points of the top four.

The Bears still have to face Leicester, Sale and Exeter – all currently ahead of them – in their last four games, as well as juggling Challenge Cup games, but Lam is only focused on Saturday’s game with the Bears. tigers.

“The boys are enjoying their rugby because they are working hard, they are the best version of themselves and that comes from each player,” Lam told BBC Radio Bristol.

“Mathematically we can do it, but that’s the big picture. These four or five weeks have been the next job, the next game and we’ve done it that way.”

Eighth: Harlequins – 40 points

Still to play: A Saracens, H Newcastle, H Bath, A Leicester

image source, Rex Features


The Quins have fly half Marcus Smith and number eight Alex Dombrandt back from England duty

This has been an inconsistent season for Harlequins, whose recent loss to Bristol was their fifth loss in six Premiership games, a run that has seen them drop to eighth.

Head coach Tabai Matson hasn’t ruled out the play-offs yet, but has called all of his last four games “must wins”, beginning with a visit to the leaders and rivals Saracens.

If they can get a result in north London, successive home games against bottom two Newcastle and Bath offer hope of taking their fight to a final game in Leicester.

Quins will have Marcus Smith, Joe Marchant, Caden Murley, Jack Walker and Alex Dombrandt back from international duty with England this weekend.

“We have everyone to pick from, which is always great when you hit the crunch and have all your best players available,” Matson said.

Ninth: Gloucester – 39 points

Still to be played – A Newcastle, H Bath, H Sale, A Bristol

image source, Rex Features


George Skivington is in his third season in charge but has yet to lead Gloucester to the play-offs.

After narrowly missing out on the play-offs last season, Gloucester have again suffered a reversal of fortune after spending most of the season in the top four, having slipped to ninth at the most critical moment.

They have only won one of five league games in 2023 and even if the play-offs are still technically possible, it looks like a lost hope.

The Cherry and Whites will have to win their remaining four games and hope other results give them a fighting chance, starting with Newcastle on Friday.

“In the position we are in now, we can only look week by week,” Skivington told BBC Radio Gloucestershire.

“It would be foolish to start thinking ‘we need to be in the top four.’ now.”


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