BATH, ENGAND – The Recreation Ground may not be the most desirable location for top flight rugby matches in the twenty first century, but for the purposes of the Aviva Premiership on Friday, it might as well be the center of the universe. Bath will be facing Saracens in one of the most fiercely contested fixtures of the season, in a match that may determine home field advantage in the playoffs. As always, RWU has you covered with a complete Round 16 Aviva Premiership Preview:
Bath and Saracens Battle
Bath may not be pleased that they are missing fly-half George Ford for this particular match, but Sarries are certainly missing Owen Farrell and Billy Vunipola much more. Chris Ashton has remained a viable option on the wing during the course of the Aviva Premiership season, while Chris Wyles continues to prove his worth. Bath may have to wait another season or two to assert themselves among the ranks of the European elite, but they are certainly on the ascendancy, with the Sam Burgess signing serving as a serious statement of intent.
Exeter Looks to Stop Slide
The Exeter Chiefs, who are in a serious slide, are looking to arrest their slippage against the London Irish, who have been in the ascendancy since their new ownership took over in December. The Chiefs management has garnered great attention for their maximization of limited resources, but since Exeter have campaigned in two consecutive Heineken Cup campaigns, the board of directors have come to expect a top six finish. This year, it may prove too much for a limited Exeter outfit, who have struggled to cope with the demands of multiple competitions. With all fairness to the Chiefs, they have coped excellently with limited resources, and it would prove an immense surprise if they were to lose to the Irish at home. Sandy Park still affords and immense home advantage, and the Chiefs should take advantage.
Worcester Last Chance
This weekend likely marks the Warriors last chance to provide a serious threat to the Newcastle Falcons in the relegation sweepstakes. The Warriors will be facing the Harlequins at Sixways. Though their home-field advantage was supposed to carry the Warrior through this season’s competition, their inability to win a single match this season has proved their undoing. A mid-season signing, Ryan Lamb, has not proved to be a major improvement for the Warriors, and the Wasps continue to impress offensively, especially with last week’s display against Bath. Dean Ryan’s side looks doomed, but if they are to survive, a memorable comeback must begin this weekend.