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Will Saracens & Exeter make it a repeat of 2018 final? Get Premiership playoff tips

Ben Darvill 23 May 2019
Exeter Chiefs' players celebrate (credit:Simon Galloway/PA Wire/PA Images)

Can Saracens stave off Gloucester's charge and will Exeter replicate their awesome display against Northampton on the final day of the regular season in the playoffs? Read on for our best bets for the semi-finals of the Premiership. 

Saracens vs Gloucester (Saturday, 13:30 BST)

The first semi-final of the 2018/19 Premiership season sees Saracens host Gloucester at Allianz Park in what should be an incredibly interesting match-up. Sarries come into this one on the back of a season in which they were always likely to make it into the playoffs, but they will have been disappointed to have lost six matches in their 22, with this seeing the side finish a rather sizeable eight points behind Exeter, with this gap widened by their shock 31-29 loss to Worcester on the final day of the season. For Gloucester, this is a huge change to play in a semi-final and come into the clash as the major underdogs. The side finished the season with 13 victories, one draw and eight defeats which helped them onto 68 points as they finished 12 clear of Harlequins in fifth in the table. Their strong run means they have the pleasure of travelling to face Sarries in this one with the home side coming into the game as big favourites which will play into Gloucester’s hands as their players should be able to take to the field and play with some real freedom, whereas Saracens will have a huge amount of expectation on their shoulders. Despite this, we think that the European Champions and reigning-Premiership champions will take the last step to the final of the competition against a Gloucester side that have struggled on the road against Sarries. Saracens have won their last seven games in a row against Gloucester at home with the side not losing to Gloucester at their own stadium since November 2008. Gloucester’s Danny Cipriani will come into this one looking to prove a point to Eddie Jones and England ahead of the World Cup, and while we think he will pull the strings for the away side, we think that this Saracens side are too good in knock out competition to lose at home. 

Exeter Chiefs vs Northampton Saints (Saturday, 16:30 BST)

Exeter finished the season as top dogs following a superb campaign that saw the side win 17 times across the season, losing only five times. Their incredible haul of 18 bonus points is something that has helped the side to build up an eight point lead over Saracens in second and go into the playoffs against the fourth-placed team in the competition, and their home semi-final will be a huge chance for the outfit to make it to the final and then remedy what happened in last year’s final, where they were beaten by Saracens in the final despite topping the table and finishing above the side by a healthy margin. Northampton meanwhile arrive after making it through to the semi-finals by the skin of their teeth as they finished in fourth in the table with 56 points, the same as fifth-placed Harlequins. What will be incredibly worrying for the side is the fact that while making it through to the semi-finals was the most important thing, it was actually just a dress-rehearsal for that playoff game, with the Saints beaten 40-21 by Exeter, and now having to travel to the same stadium to play the same team, and we think the same result will be had. In the last seven games between the pair at Sandy Park, Northampton have lost every single match, with the Chiefs incredibly strong at home in the past against their opponents, while they have won 10 of their 11 matches at home this season. With this in mind, we think the Chiefs will set up a replay of the 2018 final if Sarries are also able to beat Gloucester. 

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