Rugby Union / Five Nations Focus: Barnes delighted with Bath's semi-final trip to Orrell

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The Independent Online
THE ONLY neutral venue in the Pilkington Cup is Twickenham, so yesterday's semi-final draw brought glad tidings for Harlequins and Orrell in the form of home ties against Bath and Leicester respectively, writes Steve Bale.

The sponsor would prefer its competition, like the Swalec Cup in Wales, to be uninfluenced by home advantage at this stage, and the idea was even floated that Quins would do best out of their game by taking Bath across the road from The Stoop to HQ itself.

This was swiftly knocked on the head by Dudley Wood, the RFU secretary, but the strange thing is that many at Bath are quite content at having to travel. 'No disrespect to Harlequins, Leicester, Orrell or our own pitch,' Stuart Barnes, the Bath stand-off, said. 'I'm a very superstitious animal and was dreading a home semi-final.' Bath have won not only all the previous seven but also all their seven finals.

Meanwhile, Leicester, the holders, have already done the double over Orrell this season, and so are less bothered by their visit to Lancashire than their earlier record against these opponents would have made them.

In Wales, last night's Swalec Cup quarter-final draw paired last season's finalists, Neath and Llanelli, at The Gnoll. Cardiff's home tie with South Wales Police will be postponed so that the Barbarians can play their traditional Easter Saturday match at the Arms Park.

PILKINGTON CUP Semi-finals: Harlequins v Bath; Orrell v Leicester (To be played 2 April).

PILKINGTON SHIELD Semi-finals: Malvern v Hucclecote Old Boys; Old Hamptonians v Kidderminster Carolians (To be played 2 April).

SWALEC CUP Quarter-finals: Neath v Llanelli; Pontypridd v Newbridge; Cardiff v South Wales Police; Maesteg v Tenby United (To be played 2 April).

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