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Anglo-Welsh Cup: State of Play

Travis PerkinsSponsored by Travis Perkins

Northampton Saints enter the final round of the Anglo-Welsh Cup pool stages in the driving seat to qualify for the semi-finals.

Saints have qualified for the knockout stage of the competition three times in the last five seasons, and last weekend’s dramatic late triumph over Sale Sharks means their fate is in their own hands once again.

Victory against Harlequins at Franklin’s Gardens on Friday evening will send the hosts through as Pool 3 winners – that’s the simple part!

But if Saints are to earn themselves a home semi-final in front of a partisan crowd at the Gardens in March, a number of other results have to go their way.

Here’s our breakdown ahead what’s set to be a thrilling clash under the lights on Friday.

Tickets are still available for Saints' Anglo-Welsh Cup clash with Harlequins on Friday 2 February from the ticket office at Franklin’s Gardens, online by CLICKING HERE or by calling the Saints Ticket Office on 01604 581000.

WHO ADVANCES

  • The four Pool winners will advance into the semi-finals of the competition, and will be seeded 1-4 by reference to the number of points earned in the Pools.
  • If two sides in the same Pool end the group stage equal on points, the qualifier will be decided by; matches won, then tries scored, then points difference.
  • The top two seeds will be the home side for the two semi-finals, the top seed playing fourth seed and second seed playing third seed.
  • If two sides vying for a home semi-final are equal on points, the higher seed will be decided by; matches won, then tries scored, then points difference.

HOW THEY STAND

Saints, Bath Rugby, Harlequins and Newcastle Falcons top the pools heading into the final round of action.

But ahead of a thrilling weekend Gloucester Rugby, Exeter Chiefs, Worcester Warriors, Saracens, Leicester Tigers and London Irish can all also progress.

PosTeamPlayedWonDrawnLostPoints DifferenceTries ScoredPoints
1Bath Rugby330019812
2Gloucester Rugby .  3201611711
3Wasps3102-47126
4Cardiff Blues3003-7930

 

PosTeamPlayedWonDrawnLostPoints DifferenceTries ScoredPoints
1Harlequins3300371615
2Exeter Chiefs          3201451610
3Exeter3201699
4Dragons3102-4874

 

PosTeamPlayedWonDrawnLostPoints DifferenceTries ScoredPoints
1Northampton Saints3201231310
2Worcester Warriors3102-1147
3Saracens310211107
4Scarlets3003-7331

 

PosTeamPlayedWonDrawnLostPoints DifferenceTries ScoredPoints
1Newcastle Falcons   3201561810
2Leicester Tigers3201121010
3London Irish310215157
4Ospreys3102-3774

      

WHERE DOES THIS LEAVE SAINTS?

Saints will be guaranteed a spot in the semi-finals of the competition with a victory over Harlequins on Saturday – but a bonus-point triumph could well be the cherry on top of the cake.

Any victory for the hosts at Franklin’s Gardens would end Worcester Warriors’ and Saracens’ hopes of progression, but it’s certain Northampton will need the extra point for scoring four tries to ensure they play again at home in the semi-finals.

That’s because Harlequins, Bath and Gloucester all have higher points tallies heading into Round 4, but Saints can remain optimistic.

If Saints pick up a bonus-point win:

They will be level on points with Harlequins, and the two sides’ seedings will rely on who has scored the most tries throughout the competition.

Saints have 13 to Harlequins’ 16 currently, but that will all change if Saints do cross the whitewash enough times for a try bonus – if the hosts can overhaul Quins’ try tally, it opens up their route to a home semi.

From there a home semi-final will realistically hinge on the fortunes of Ospreys vs Bath, Newcastle Falcons vs Gloucester, Exeter Chiefs v Saracens and Wasps vs Leicester Tigers.

And here’s where it gets complicated! Here’s the perfect string of results for the Saints to end up with a home semi-final:

  1. Saints record a bonus-point victory over Harlequins, taking their points tally to 15 in Pool 3, scoring at least three more tries than their London rivals in the process to leapfrog them in the semi-final seedings.
  2. Bath beat the Ospreys away from home with a bonus-point, ending Gloucester’s chances of qualification and earning a home semi-final.
  3. Gloucester beat Newcastle Falcons at Kingston Park, but cannot overhaul Bath at the top of Pool 1. OR Newcastle win without a try bonus point, leaving them shy of Saints’ points total. Falcons already have five more tries than the Saints in the competition, so a bonus-point for them will deny Northampton a home semi.
  4. Either Saracens beat Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park, OR Exeter win but without claiming a four-try bonus point, leaving both sides short of Northampton’s points total. Similarly to Newcastle, Exeter have an advantage over Saints in terms of tries scored, so a bonus-point win for them will scupper Saints hopes of a home semi.
  5. Wasps beat Leicester Tigers at the Ricoh Arena, OR Leicester Tigers win but without scoring more tries than the Saints. Saints can afford for Tigers to get a bonus-point win and level their 15 points as the Tigers have scored fewer tries in the competition. But if Leicester score more tries than the Saints manage against Harlequins, they will overhaul the Saints’ try tally and poach a home semi-final.

Phew! 

If Saints win, but without a bonus-point:

This scenario is far simpler; the Saints will still be guaranteed a semi-final but will not overtake Harlequins in the semi-final seedings.

This means that whichever way the Newcastle Falcons vs Gloucester clash ends (unless it is a draw), the Saints will be away in the semis – if Gloucester win they will have more points than Saints, whereas if Newcastle win they will be level on points with Saints having scored more tries.

This will push the Saints into third spot at best in the seedings and they will play their semi-final away from home.

Get all that? Good…