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Premiership Rugby Cup: Northampton Saints’ state of play

Northampton Saints booked their place in the semi-finals of this season’s Premiership Rugby Cup following last weekend’s impressive 47-20 victory over Leicester Tigers.

Chris Boyd’s men marched into the knock-out stages of the competition by running in seven tries against their East Midlands rivals, having already seen off Bristol Bears and Wasps in the group stages.

Saints are guaranteed to finish top of Pool 3, but will have to keep one eye on this weekend’s fixtures to find out their opponents in the last four – with either Exeter Chiefs or Newcastle Falcons lying in wait.

We’ve crunched the numbers and here’s the state of play heading into the weekend.

Permutations

With Saracens already securing their passage from Pool 2 on 16 points, Saints (Pool 3 winners, 15 points) are guaranteed either the second or third seeding going into the semi-finals.

Worcester Warriors can catch Sarries in Pool 2, but even if they match their 16 points (beating Saints’ tally in the process), whichever side has the lower points difference and goes through second in the group will automatically qualify as fourth seeds.

Gloucester Rugby and Sale Sharks both also have an outside chance of progressing, but can only advance as Pool runners-up and therefore as fourth seeds.

So, Saints will face the winners of Pool 1 whatever the outcome of the weekend’s other matches – and with Exeter Chiefs having played four times already, there is only one match Northampton supporters need to keep their eye on this weekend.

Sale Sharks take on Newcastle Falcons at the AJ Bell Stadium, with five possible scenarios that affect Saints:

1.    Sale beat Newcastle;
Any win for the Sharks means Exeter will top Pool 1, and owing to Saints’ superior points difference over the Chiefs, the sides will lock horns at Franklin’s Gardens.
OUTCOME: Northampton Saints v Exeter Chiefs (Franklin's Gardens)

2.    Newcastle beat Sale, but do not secure a try bonus point;
If Falcons win but do not score the four tries required for a bonus point, they cannot top Pool 1 and Saints will welcome Exeter to Franklin’s Gardens.
OUTCOME: Northampton Saints v Exeter Chiefs (Franklin's Gardens)

3.    Newcastle beat Sale with a bonus point, but by fewer than eight match points;
If Falcons do win and secure a bonus point in the process, they need to win by more than eight points to top Pool 1. If they win by a score or less, Exeter will stay above them on points difference and Saints will be at home against the Chiefs in the semi-finals.
OUTCOME: Northampton Saints v Exeter Chiefs (Franklin's Gardens)

4.    Newcastle beat Sale with a bonus point by between eight and 36 match points;
If Falcons win with a bonus point and their margin of victory is between eight and 36 points, Saints’ points difference will still be superior to Newcastle’s and they will host a semi-final between the sides at Franklin’s Gardens.
OUTCOME: Northampton Saints v Newcastle Falcons (Franklin's Gardens)

5.    Newcastle beat Sale with a bonus point by more than 36 points;
If Falcons win with a bonus point by more than 36 points, they will qualify top of Pool 1 and surpass Northampton’s points difference, meaning Saints will have to travel to Kingston Park for their semi-final showdown.
OUTCOME: Newcastle Falcons v Northampton Saints (Kingston Park)

The semi-finals will be played on the weekend of 8th/9th/10th of February, with the match date to be confirmed as soon as possible following the final whistle of Sunday’s remaining matches.

If Saints do achieve a home semi-final, tickets will be on sale on Sunday evening from £10 for Season Ticket Holders and from £15 for general admission. STHs will receive a 24hr priority window to purchase their seat. More details to follow on Sunday.