Weekend preview: Big spenders Bath look to Europe to save their season

 

Bath (7th) v Leicester (2nd)

The semi-final arguments are all but done – Harlequins and Northampton have the two remaining play-off places all but nailed down – so the attention this week is on Heineken Cup qualification, which makes a pleasant change. Usually, the focus is on Heineken Cup politics, the running sore of the season.

By their own admission, big-spending Bath have not provided value for Bruce Craig’s money this term, but they can still give themselves a shot at salvaging something with victory over the old enemy at the Recreation Ground today. Not that the West Country faithful are holding their breath.

Wasps (8th) v Exeter (6th)

Bath’s challengers for a European qualifying spot meet at Adams Park tomorrow in what could well be the game of the weekend. The Devonians have generated a good deal of late-season momentum with four victories in their last five league outings and having just subjected London Irish to a thorough spanking, they keep an unchanged side.

Wasps have not enjoyed such a fun time of it lately, but if ever there was a moment for their brilliant youngsters – Elliot Daly, Christian Wade, Joe Simpson, Joe Launchbury and Billy Vunipola – to serve up some fresh pizzazz, this is it. Exeter are taking the game so seriously, they are talking of it as their “cup final”. The Londoners need to be thinking along the same lines.

Northampton (4th) v Sale (10th)

A bonus-point win over opponents who rarely travel well will see Northampton safely into the semi-finals with a match to spare, and there will be plenty of emotion flying around Franklin’s Gardens as they go in search of the needful. Four years after making his way to the  East Midlands from South Africa, the Springbok prop Brian Mujati plays his final home game before heading for a spell of league rugby in France.

Sale’s home form, combined with the many and varied calamities visited upon London Welsh, has steered them clear of relegation, so they have a licence to play today. Danny Cipriani is back at No 10, but some of their most effective players – Sam Tuitupou and Dan Braid among them – are missing.

Gloucester (5th) v Saracens (1st)

Tom Savage, a fast-developing back five forward who has caught the eye more than once this season, leads Gloucester at Kingsholm this afternoon. Victory is a must for the Cherry and Whites – no easy matter against the supremely bloody-minded league leaders – but even if they manage it, they will probably fall short of a semi-final spot. Sarries are resting three current internationals in Chris Ashton, Brad Barritt and Kelly Brown, but restore half a dozen key figures, including Owen Farrell and Steve Borthwick. Thanks a bunch.

Worcester (9th) v H’quins (3rd)

Worcester’s week of upheaval concludes today with a tough game against the champions, for whom Nick Easter makes his 200th appearance and two colleagues – Danny Care and James Johnston – reach the century mark. Nigel Redman, one of the coaches steering the home ship after the abrupt departure of Richard Hill as head coach, has handed the 19-year-old wing Ben Howard a first Premiership start.

L Irish (11th) v L Welsh (12th)

London Welsh have a thankless task: already relegated, they are still suffering from a debilitating casualty list. Irish, on the other hand, have  the England prop Alex Corbisiero back in the front row after a long-term knee injury.

Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
News
people
News
Campbell: ‘Sometimes you have to be economical with the truth’
newsFormer spin doctor says MPs should study tactics of leading sports figures like José Mourinho
News
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey VC
voicesBeware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
Alexander McQueen's AW 2009/10 collection during Paris Fashion Week
fashionMeet the collaborators who helped create the late designer’s notorious spectacles
Sport
football
News
i100
News
Perry says: 'Psychiatrists give help because they need help. You would not be working in mental health if you didn't have a curiosity about how the mind works.'
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?