Tuesday, 23 March 2010

The Guinness Premiership Relegation Run In

Now that the Six Nations has whimpered to an uninspiring conclusion it's all eyes back to the Guinness Premiership, Magners League and Heineken Cup.

As we approach the so called 'business end' of the season, I'll be looking at the teams jostling for position at the top of the Premiership and those fighting for survival at the bottom.

First up, I will cast my eyes over the teams hoping to avoid the dreaded trapdoor.

But which team will come up short?

Will Worcester be saved from the drop by scrappy bonus points?

Can Leeds Carnegie continue their recent winning streak and climb away from the Championship?

Do Newcastle have what it takes to stay in the top flight?

Or will Sale survive despite a torrid run of form?

The Guinness Premiership table

With only six rounds left the battle at the bottom is really hotting up.  Unlike previous seasons, the team that will fall by the Premiership wayside is by no means a foregone conclusion.

Home games are all important in the fight for Guinness Premiership survival, but so are the head to head matches between the teams at the bottom.

Sale play fellow relegation battlers Worcester and Newcastle in their run in, but crucially for Kingsley Jones' men both these games are at home.  The Sharks beat Wasps in their game in hand (also known as Pizzagate take two) to claw their way up to 10th.  However Sale's form has been dire recently, and prior to the win over Wasps they were suffering their worst run in the league since the 2000/01 season.

Leeds approach the final half dozen fixtures on the back of a three game winning streak in the league.  However the two week break won't have helped their momentum. Carnegie only two home games left to play - the lowest of all the teams facing the drop.  These are against high flying Northampton, and what promises to be an epic relegation dogfight against bottom of the table Worcester in the penultimate round.  Still, three of Leeds' five Guinness Premiership wins have been on the road, so this won't trouble Neil Back's men unduly.

Worcester are currently bottom of the pile and have tough games against top four teams Leicester and Wasps.  Wuss also face London Irish, who are pushing for a top four finish.  However all these games are at home, and in their last six matches Worcester only have to two games away from Sixways.  These matches are against fellow relegation fodder Leeds and Sale, which puts extra pressure on Mike Ruddock's team to at least win a couple of bonus points at home.

Newcastle have a nasty run-in, but they will take heart that they have already beaten Wasps and drawn with Sale this year.  Gloucester, Harlequins, Leicester and Saracens aren't the teams you want to be playing at this point in the season, especially as the spectre of relegation is looming.

But what about Harlequins and Gloucester?  Surely these two supremos won't be dragged down into the relegation dogfight? 

Probably not, although Quins did fall into the Championship in the 2004/05 season.  However the reality is that Quins and Glaws are only four points ahead of Newcastle and five points ahead of Sale and Leeds down in 10th and 11th.  Even bottom of the pile Worcester are only two wins away from overhauling these Premiership giants.  So it is possible that if, albeit rather unlikely, that if Gloucester and Harlequins make a hash of their home games, they could find the last few weeks of the season rather uncomfortable.

So what are each teams' chances of survival?  Here is what I think:


Points: 32
Position: 7th
Fixtures: Newcastle (A), Leeds (H), Saracens (H), Northampton (A), London Irish (H), Worcester (A)

Survival chance: As good as Bear Grylls living on a diet of twigs and dangleberries.  4.5/5.


Points: 32
Position: 8th
Fixtures: Bath (A), Newcastle (H), Leeds (H), Saracens (A: Wembley), Leicester (A), Sale (H)

Survival chance: Wins against two of the three strugglers Newcastle, Leeds or Sale will see them safe.  Quins might have experienced a few problems with blood, but nosebleeders they are not. 4/5


Points: 28
Position: 9th
Fixtures: Gloucester (H), Saracens (A), Harlequins (A), Leicester (H), Sale (A), Wasps (H)

Survival chance: Yuk. If the Falcons are to survive it's going to be tough. 1.5/5.


Points: 27
Position: 10th
Fixtures: London Irish (A), Worcester (H), Saracens (H), Bath (A), Newcastle (H), Harlequins (A)

Survival chance: Everything rests on the outcome of the games against Worcester and Newcastle.  Win these and Sale are in with a shout.  Lose them both and Sale are sunk. 1/5.


Points: 27
Position: 11th
Fixtures: Gloucester (A), Northampton (H), Harlequins (A), London Irish (A), Worcester (H), Bath (A)

Survival chance: It's by no means an easy run in, but recent wins over Saracens and Wasps show Leeds could have what it takes to stay up. 3/5.


Points: 25
Position: 12th
Fixtures: Leicester (H), Sale (A), London Irish (H), Wasps (H), Leeds (A), Gloucester (H)

Survival chance: It's another tough batch of games and the match at Leeds looks like it will be crucial.  However, Worcester have a habit of surviving against the odds. 3.5/5.

So by my calculations the toothless Sharks will be swimming in the Championship next season.

Well, unless they are saved by the fiasco of the Championship playoff system that is.

But what do you think? 

Will Sale be the ones plummeting through the Guinness Premiership trapdoor on Saturday 8th May?

1 comment:

  1. As Gloucester boy I reckon they will stay mid table this season, not where I would like to see them finish but as long they don't end up at the bottom, selfishly, I don't worry too much about the others.