Exeter Chiefs: Rob Baxter’s men have won their past five Aviva Premiership games to finish the regular season joint top of the table with Wasps on 84 points, giving the Chiefs all-important home advantage in the semi-finals. They are one of the competition’s form teams, with their most recent victory coming over Gloucester at Kingsholm on the final day of the regular season.
Saracens: Current Aviva Premiership champions, Saracens recorded an historic back-to-back Champions Cup double earlier this month with a 28-17 victory over Clermont Auvergne at BT Murrayfield. Mark McCall’s squad are still on for an unprecedented Aviva Premiership and Champions Cup ‘double-double’, and go into the weekend having suffered just one loss since the beginning of April – a 35-15 reverse to Wasps in Round 22.
Wasps: Although Coventry-based Wasps have lost two of their past six games in all competitions, they finished joint top of the Aviva Premiership table to guarantee a home semi-final. The recent losses to Leinster in the Champions Cup quarter-final and to Harlequins in the league shouldn’t affect their confidence or self-belief too much going into the weekend.
Leicester Tigers: Despite a season of transition for Leicester Tigers, with numerous changes in coaching personnel, the men from the Midlands have yet again snuck into the play-offs in fourth place, having recorded four wins from their past five league games against Northampton Saints, Newcastle Falcons, Sale Sharks and Worcester Warriors. They may have finished the regular season 18 points behind the two leaders, but this is knock-out rugby and Leicester have been here many times before.
Exeter find themselves in the semi-finals for a second successive year, some feat after only being promoted to the top-tier in 2011. They’ve lost only twice at home in the Aviva Premiership this season – once to Saracens in Round Two - and will be looking to avenge last year’s agonising 28-20 loss to the same side in the final. They’re 3/1 with both Ladbrokes and Coral to prevail by 1-10 points, and 7/1 to claim victory by 11-20 points. Starting as underdogs with the bookmakers, Exeter will need to stay in the game as long as possible to have a chance of victory, and they’re 17/11 to be leading after 60 minutes.
Saracens have won their past five games against Exeter, and haven’t lost to their opponents since May 2015. They’re 1/2 odds-on to reach the final and have a shot at retaining their domestic crown. Boasting a squad containing six 2017 British and Irish Lions, including Maro Itoje and the Vunipola brothers, they’re 8/11 to reach 10 points first this weekend, and also priced 8/11 to score the game’s first try.
Wasps’ Dai Young was named Director of Rugby of the Year this week, with fly-half Jimmy Gopperth named Aviva Premiership Player of the Year, Club’s Player of the Season and Players’ Player of the Year. With over 28,000 tickets sold for the semi-final against old rivals Leicester, Wasps are expecting the biggest crowd of the season and they’re a tempting 11/4 to be leading by 1-5 points at half-time. They’re also 21/10 to claim victory by 1-10 points, and 5/7 on to be leading after 20 minutes.
A year of turmoil for Leicester Tigers has seen Richard Cockerill and Aaron Mauger both relieved of their coaching duties, but despite this, they go into the Midlands derby priced 10/3 to reach the Twickenham final. You can get odds on Leicester of 11/2 for Half Time/Full Time betting, and they’re 21/2 to win both halves at the Ricoh Arena. Leicester have the experience and knowhow to weather what is likely to be a punchy Wasps storm, and the Tigers are 4/1 to cause an upset and win by 1-12 points.
- Sports.net’s Top Tips: Saracens to win by 1-10 points at 21/10 and Leicester/Wasps Half Time/Full Time at 6/1