Nick Easter’s Premiership predictions: Play-off spots on the line as ‘amazing season’ concludes with ‘fascinating’ final round

James While
Nick Easter joins Planet Rugby to delve in the final round of the Premiership.

Nick Easter joins Planet Rugby to delve in the final round of the Premiership.

And there you have it. The last round of the Premiership is upon us with seven teams having a mathematical chance of qualifying for the play-offs.

Former England number eight Nick Easter is our eToro pundit this week, a champion with his beloved Harlequins in 2012 and now director of rugby at Chinnor RFC.

“It’s been a quite amazing season,” Easter said.

“It might be a bridge too far for Quins and whilst I’m a little disappointed for the guys there, especially those I played with, fighting a campaign in both Europe and at home, with such a fast turn around after a tiring game in Toulouse, may well have cost them their chance.

“But the closeness of the race is testimony to the quality of the league, and also the importance of bonus points. This weekend will be fascinating to watch unfold and I’m sure many will be glued to the results feed as all of the mathematical complexities unravel.”

Bath Rugby v Northampton Saints

Northampton have selected a weaker side having sealed their Premiership semi-final place, but there’s always a balance between resting players and keeping form going. Bath have gone fully loaded – they only need a point or two to get through but Johann van Graam is a man that is intently focused on winning and if they get the full five they still might just sneak past Saracens for that crucial home semi tie.

This will be a wonderful spectacle of running rugby from two exciting sides and one I’m thoroughly looking forward to.

Head-to-head: There’s many around the park, but the one I fancy is the clash of two England boys, Sam Underhill and Lewis Ludlam at openside flanker.

Players to watch: Finn Russell makes his first start for Bath after injury, so watch out for his magic touch, while Ollie Sleightholme has been in fine form for Northampton in 2024.

Easter’s call: It’ll be a home win, but not as big as some might believe. I’m going 21-19 in a real tight and exciting match.

Gloucester Rugby v Newcastle Falcons

What do you do after a 90-0 mauling? I guess Ted Lasso might tell you to be a goldfish and forget about it but, trust me, it takes a long time to forget a pasting like that. It’s all about how George Skivington, a man under great pressure, manages to get his players up for what is on one hand a shot to nothing and on the other, a meaningless game.

On the flip side, Newcastle will quietly fancy this one and have the pack to cause problems. It might be the least glamorous fixture of the round but Falcons will target an away win and I think they’ve got the tool box to make a real impact.

Head-to-head: On the openside, Guy Pepper will play his last game for Newcastle before heading to Bath, and he’s up against a wonderfully consistent leader in Lewis Ludlow, a lineout king and a hugely underrated flanker.

Players to watch: Adam Radwan is always box office but so is Jonny May. It’s another mini head-to-head for the fans to enjoy as two great wingers go up against each other.

Easter’s call: A tough one to predict but I just fancy Dimes to drive his men to an away win, around 28-22, in another tough day for Gloucester.

Northampton Saints’ selection aids Bath’s Premiership play-off hopes as five teams battle for two places in thrilling final day

Harlequins v Bristol Bears

This is where it hots up. Bears cannot afford to lose, but Quins need to get back onto the rails of form. Both teams can only do what they can and then they rely upon the fortunes of others.

It’ll be high scoring but in matches like that it’s the team who does the basics best that tends to get over the line and I do believe Quins have the set-piece edge.

Head-to-head: Benhard Janse van Rensburg v Luke Northmore is two wonderful centres at the apex of their personal form. Janse van Rensburg is a real artisan, doing the simple stuff well, whilst Northmore’s pace and ability over the ball in contact is his USP.

Players to watch: It’s all about the Quins and the Bears half-backs where Danny Care and Marcus Smith, as well as Callum Sheedy and Harry Randall, are all great game managers.

Easter’s call: A very tight one, but despite Bristol’s form, Quins have home advantage. 44-35 in a high scoring thriller.

Leicester Tigers v Exeter Chiefs

A thoroughly intriguing game where Tigers need to turn up in front of their passionate home crowd but Chiefs travel on a wave of form.

Both sides are immensely physical and rely upon gain line and contact dominance to empower their backs. It’ll be an absolute clash of power and muscle but I’m backing the Chiefs to edge it.

Head to head: Greg Fisilau has been topping the carry charts all season but he’s up against a world-class eight in the human boulder that is Jasper Wiese.

Players to watch: Immanuel Feyi-Waboso is box office and his meteoric rise has been a feature of Exeter’s season. For Tigers, Hanro Liebenberg qualifies for England in the autumn and his ability at six is key for the hosts.

Easter’s call: This is the hardest one of the weekend to shout. But there’s something in me that thinks Chiefs might just overturn a doughty Tigers side on the basis of superior firepower. I’ll go 25-23 to Exeter.

Saracens v Sale Sharks

Sharks need an outright win to qualify and there’s so many subplots in this match it’s untrue. Alex Sanderson returning to a club he was at for 17 years, Billy and Mako Vunipola moving on and so on.

I simply cannot see anything other than Saracens here; they’ve timed their run-in to perfection and for every ounce of physicality Sale have, Sarries have just as much and maybe more.

It’s a sad end for Sale’s run but few win at the StoneX and Saracens will be focused on securing a home semi-final.

Head-to-head: Tom Willis and Billy Vunipola v Jean-Luc du Preez at eight is a clash of container trucks at the base of the scrum and big Billy will be desperate to get one more match at home for the club he’s served so well.

Players to watch: Lucio Cinti has quietly been one of Saracens’ best signings in a long time. For Sale, George Ford has been magnificent since returning from the Six Nations.

Easter’s call: A convincing win for Saracens to secure that vital home semi-final. 42-24.

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