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  • Squeaky Bum Time approaches

    (By Piquet - not my work!)
    1/2

    That time of the season so beloved of Sir Alex Ferguson is coming into view.

    There will have to be major rule changes next year, given that of all the Premiership teams, only one, Saracens, are not in the bottom half of their Pool.
    Peculiarly enough, of the ten fixtures in Round Four, only three had different results from the previous Round.
    Significant gaps have developed in three of the pools and the first four casualties have been revealed with one or two hanging on grimly but unlikely to progress.
    When two teams finish on equal points, the first tie-breaker is the Match Points in the two games between the teams. Next is Points Difference in the two games and then Tries in the two games. If that doesn’t split the teams or if they haven’t met, then the order is:
    • Overall Points Difference
    • Overall Tries Scored
    • Players Suspended
    • Lots.
    The current Rules are silent on more than two teams finishing level. In 2016, however, Exeter, Bordeaux-Begles and the Ospreys finished level in Pool 2 on 16 Points with Exeter going through on the three-way Head to Head (Level with B/B but ahead on PD)
    The lowest second-placed teams total that qualified since the format change have been:
    2015 17 (another team on 17 didn’t qualify)
    2016 19
    2017 18 and
    2018 18
    Pool One P W D L F A PD TF TA TB LB PTS Rank
    Toulouse 4 4 0 0 116 90 26 13 9 1 0 17 3
    Leinster 4 3 0 1 138 56 82 19 6 2 1 15 6
    Bath 4 0 1 3 80 116 -36 10 16 1 2 5
    Wasps 4 0 1 3 81 153 -72 9 20 1 0 3
    Next Fixtures: 12th Jan 13:00 Leinster v Toulouse; 15:15 Bath v Wasps.

    Saturday’s match in the RDS will decide the Pool. Any win for Toulouse wins them the Pool. Any other result would leave things open ‘till the last round where Leinster visit Coventry and Toulouse host Bath. Any win for Leinster except “4-2” or “4-1” would put them ahead and win them the Head to Head. A “4-1” win would put them ahead but they would need to win by more than one point or by a point scoring more tries to win the Head to Head in that case. If they do that, Leinster would only need to match Toulouse’s final Points Total. It could mean that any win in Coventry would do no matter what Toulouse do v Bath.

    Any draw would leave Leinster having to do better in the last Round than Toulouse. They would need to win, and hope that Toulouse didn’t.

    Both Bath and Wasps are out.
    Pool Two P W D L F A PD TF TA TB LB PTS Rank
    1 Munster 4 2 1 1 88 50 38 9 6 1 1 12 5
    2 Castres 4 2 0 2 61 86 -25 5 7 0 1 9 10
    3 Exeter 4 1 1 2 83 83 0 11 9 1 1 8
    4 Gloucester 4 2 0 2 85 98 -13 10 13 0 0 8
    Next Fixtures: 11th Jan 19:45 Gloucester v Munster; 13th Jan 13:00 Exeter v Castres

    This is the proverbial dogfight. Anything could happen from here. All teams can qualify with two wins, although Gloucester would need Exeter to slip up, given that Exeter have won that particular Head to Head and Castres would need Munster to slip up since they don’t play each other again (except possibly in the Knock-out Rounds) . There is even a combination of Scenarios that would leave three teams on 16 Points. (Gloucester beat Munster 4-2, Exeter beat Castres 4-0, 4-1 or 4-2, Exeter beat Munster 4-2 and Gloucester beat Castres 4-0, 4-1 or 4-2) In that case, the Three-way Head to Head would put Exeter and Munster level on 9 with Points Difference deciding the Pool winners and the Runners up unlikely, in the extreme, to go through.

    Taking Munster first, any two wins would win them the Pool on 20 Points at least. Seven Points would also do because they won the Head to Head (5-4) with Castres. Six points would do as long as four of them were in a win v Exeter and Castres drop a point somewhere.

    Losing in Gloucester with one bonus would necessitate a fiver in Round Six and Castres dropping a point to be sure.

    A point of any description in Kingsholm would win the Head to Head and mean that 18 Points would be enough to stay ahead of Gloucester. A Four Point win in the last round would also win the Head to Head with Exeter and would be enough as long as Castres were to drop two points and Gloucester were to drop one point in either of their last two matches.

    No points in Gloucester would make things much tighter. Depending on how many points Gloucester get, a Fiver would be the minimum needed and that might not be enough. 17 Points might possibly be enough for the last second placed spot. If Gloucester were to get a Fiver and overturn the Head to Head (Munster currently lead 5-0, by 5 tries to 3 and by 14 points) then Munster would need two points more than them in the last round. Any win for Gloucester in Castres would put Munster down into second at best and probably out. In those circumstances, a four-point win would almost certainly mean curtains and anything worse would definitely be fatal.

    4-0 to Gloucester would firstly win Munster the Head to Head and secondly leave the two teams level. Matching Gloucester’s match points in the last round would keep Munster ahead of them but, of course how the Points went in Exeter in Round 5 would influence matters. A win for Exeter would put them on 12 or 13 and Munster would pass them out with a win in Thomond. (this might not be enough if Gloucester got a fiver in Castres and Munster didn’t get one in Thomond) A win for Castres would have them on 13 or 14 and leave Munster needing to get one or possibly two points more than them in the last round.

    As hinted at above, two wins for Castres would have then on 17 points at least (with Gloucester and Exeter on 15 at most) and hoping that Munster get no more than four points in the last two rounds. That would win them the Pool and probably eliminate Munster, 16 points being unlikely to be enough to qualify in second. If Munster were to get five, they would be ahead of Castres on the Head to Head and Castres would have a chance, on 17 of qualifying in second.

    One bonus between the two matches would put them on 18 points and in a stronger position. They could afford for Munster to overtake them and be in with a good chance of qualifying in second. Getting two bonuses would almost certainly qualify them on 19 points no matter what happens elsewhere.

    Losing one of their matches would have them on 16 at best and almost certainly out.

    Having won the Head to Head over Gloucester, all Exeter have to do to stay ahead of them is to match their Match Points from here on. Bonus Point wins for them would put them on 18 points and win them the Pool, unless Munster get seven points from their last two games. 17 points would do but only if Gloucester didn’t get to 18 by getting two bonuses themselves and Munster don’t get six. Similarly, 16 would only do if Gloucester don’t get to 17 and Munster don’t get five. (But see the “three on 16” scenario above)

    Failing to win both matches might work for Exeter. A Fiver and a Three-point draw might do. If the Fiver was v Castres and the Three-pointer was in Thomond, Munster would have to either get two or fewer in Kingsholm and only two in Thomond or none in Kingsholm and three in Thomond and Gloucester would have to get no bonuses. Three against Castres and Five in Thomond would only do if, as above, Gloucester get no bonuses and Munster get four or fewer between the last two matches.

    Gloucester’s prognosis is similar to Exeter’s with the proviso that they have lost the Head to Head against them and, therefore must overtake their points tally to finish ahead of them.
    Two Bonus Point wins would only win them the Pool if Exeter fail to get two Bonuses as well and Munster either get five points or fewer or get six and Gloucester overturn the Head to Head which Munster lead 5-0, 14 Points and five Tries to three. Seventeen points would do as long as Exeter get no bonuses and Munster either get four points or fewer or five and Gloucester overturn the Head to Head. Sixteen would make matters very tight. Exeter would have to fail to win one of their matches (but if they got a fiver in one match, a three-point draw in the other would be bad for Gloucester see above) and Munster would have to get three or fewer or four with Gloucester overturning the Head to Head.

    • mr chips
      #1
      mr chips commented
      Editing a comment
      2/2





      Pool Three P W D L F A PD TF TA TB LB PTS Rank
      1 Saracens 4 4 0 0 119 52 67 14 6 2 0 18 2
      2 Glasgow 4 3 0 1 95 57 38 11 7 2 0 14 7
      3 Cardiff 4 1 0 3 81 127 -46 10 15 0 0 4
      4 Lyon 4 0 0 4 63 122 -59 7 14 0 0 0
      Next Fixtures 13th Jan 15:15 Glasgow v Cardiff; Lyon v Saracens

      Saracens are powering towards the Play-offs having beaten Glasgow in Glasgow in Round One. As things stand, they need Seven Points to win the Pool. Five would do if two of them were in a draw with Glasgow. Four would do if they were in a win over Glasgow.

      In truth, they are probably through at the moment, 18 points will probably be enough for a second place spot.

      To win the Pool, Glasgow need to get five points more than Saracens do in the last two rounds. Four more would do if they overturn the Head to Head with Saracens. Sarries lead that at the moment, by four Match Points, 10 Points difference and by one try. To do this, they need to beat Cardiff, preferably with a Bonus, and win in Hendon in the last round and Sarries mustn’t get more than five points in their last two matches if Glasgow get a Bonus in Round Five or four if Glasgow don’t get a bonus in Round Five. (If Saracens get five points in their last two games and one of them is in the last round, then Glasgow will need a Fiver to level the Head to Head and Saracen’s Bonus must be a Try Bonus with Glasgow winning by more than ten or by ten and by more than one try.)

      Cardiff and Lyon are both out.



      Pool Four P W D L F A PD TF TA TB LB PTS Rank
      1 Racing 4 4 0 0 128 62 66 16 9 3 0 19 1
      2 Ulster 4 3 0 1 91 93 -2 13 11 2 0 14 8
      3 Leicester 4 1 0 3 92 121 -29 11 15 2 0 6
      4 Llanelli 4 0 0 4 79 114 -35 10 15 0 2 2
      Next Fixtures: 12th Jan 15:15 Ulster v Racing; Llanelli v Leicester

      Racing are in an even stronger position than Saracens. Six more points wins them the pool no matter what else happens. A 2-2 draw or better in Belfast on Saturday would win them the Head to Head with Ulster and the Pool. A 2-3 draw would leave them needing only one more. You would expect them to do a right number on Llanelli in the last round and that would do them unless they were to lose by 33 points v Ulster. 19 points is probably enough to get a second placed spot so they are through in all probability.

      To win the Pool, Ulster must get six more points in their last two games than Racing do. Five points more would do, but only if they overturn the Head to Head which Racing currently lead 5-0, by 32 points and three tries. Two fivers would only do if Racing get only four between their last two matches or if Racing get five, those five must be all in the Llanelli game and the Head to Head must be overturned. Realistically, Ulster are shooting for a second place spot. Two wins would put them there on 22 points at least

      While Leicester are strictly speaking still in with an outside chance, the best they can do is 16 points in second which is unlikely to be of any use.

      Llanelli are out.



      Pool Five P W D L F A PD TF TA TB LB PTS Rank
      1 Edinburgh 4 3 0 1 107 56 51 12 7 2 1 15 4
      2 Montpellier 4 2 0 2 103 89 13 13 9 2 1 11 9
      3 Newcastle 4 2 0 2 70 97 -27 6 10 0 0 8
      4 Toulon 4 1 0 3 90 128 -38 10 15 1 1 6
      Next Fixtures: 12 Jan 13:00 Montpellier v Newcastle; 17:30 Toulon v Edinburgh

      This is an interesting Pool. Two wins for Edinburgh puts them on 23 points minimum (out of reach of Munster) and wins them the Pool. Seven points for Edinburgh would also do. Four would do if they were all in a win v Montpellier.

      Montpellier need to get five more points than Edinburgh do. Four more would do if they avoid losing the Head to Head which they lead 4-1, 21-15 and 3-2 at the moment. So matching Edinburgh’s points next time out and beating them 4-0, 5-0 or 5-1 would do. Two more wins of any description would put them on 19 at least and if that were not enough to win the Pool, they would probably go through in second.

      Newcastle need things to go their way to go through. Having lost the Head to Head to Edinburgh, they need to get eight points more than them and three more than Montpellier to win the pool. The latter can be done with two fivers but the former would need favours from both Toulon and Montpellier.

      Believe it or not, Toulon can still win this Pool. Two Fivers would put them on 16 points and if Edinburgh were to get nothing from here on, Montpellier were to get four and Newcastle were to get seven, that would be enough. Wins for Newcastle over Montpellier 5-0 or 4-0, and Montpellier over Edinburgh 4-0 would do nicely. You never know.


      At present the Quarter Finals would be
      Racing v Ulster
      Saracens v Glasgow
      Toulouse v Leinster
      Edinburgh v Munster

      Three repeat pairings. Five from the Pro14, two from the Top 14 and one from the Premiership. Definitely a rule change is needed!!

      The Semi-Finals would be

      Racing/Ulster v Edinburgh/Munster. In France if Racing win, in Scotland if Ulster and Edinburgh win and in Ireland if Ulster and Munster win.
      Saracens/Glasgow v Toulouse/Leinster. In England if Saracens win, in France if Glasgow and Toulouse win and in Ireland if Glasgow and Leinster win.


      To get a home Quarter-Final, Munster (12) must overtake one of the teams ahead of them.

      Racing (19) and Saracens (18) are more than a winning bonus ahead so they are probably out of reach, needing to lose twice or lose and draw to be caught.

      Toulouse (17) are five points ahead so on first look, they are a possible target. Of course, if Toulouse lose, they are more than likely to be overtaken by Leinster (15) who must then lose for Munster to catch them.

      The only realistic target, therefore are Edinburgh (15) They are away to Toulon next time out but Toulon are hovering above the Relegation Zone in the Top 14 so can’t be relied upon to do us any favours. Montpellier visit them in the last round and might do us a favour but only if they are still in the running.


      The race for second place spots is, as always, interesting.
      Pos Team Points PD Tries Suspensions
      1 Leinster 15 82 19 0
      2 Glasgow 14 38 11
      3 Ulster 14 -2 13
      4 Montpellier 11 13 13
      5 Castres 9 -25 5 2
      6 Exeter 8 0 11
      7 Gloucester 8 -13 10 1
      8 Newcastle 8 -27 10
      All teams, with the exception of Castres must play their Pool leaders between now and the end. Leinster and Montpellier, in particular but also Castres, Glasgow and to a lesser extent Ulster, Exeter, Gloucester and Newcastle if they keep winning could well finish first in their pool, dragging down Toulouse (17) Edinburgh (15) Munster (12), Saracens (18) and Racing (19) into the mix.

    • rathbaner
      #2
      rathbaner commented
      Editing a comment
      Squeaky brain time, I think ????
    Posting comments is disabled.

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