Winners and losers from the final round of the Premiership as semi-finalist confirmed and legends bow out

James While
Sale Sharks flanker Ben Curry and Bristol Bears prop Kyle Sinckler.

Our winners and losers from the final round of action.

Following a thrilling final round of the regular Premiership Rugby season, here are our winners and losers.

The final day of action saw Bath and Sale Sharks claim the final two spots in the semi-finals with Saracens and Northampton Saints securing their places last week.

Winners

Sale Sharks

A memorable return to the club he spent many years at as both a player and a coach saw Alex Sanderson’s Sale secure a vital win to send them into the play-offs. It was the first time Sale had won at the StoneX in the league’s history and tries from Tom Roebuck and Rob du Preez, with a vintage display of control at ten from George Ford was enough to seal the deal for the Cheshire club.

They’ll face Bath, who overcame a depleted Saints, at the Rec on Saturday June 1st and given their form curve, there will be plenty who will back their physicality to pull off an unexpected win.

Sale Sharks stun Saracens to seal semi-final spot as holders lose home advantage

Bath Rugby

As Saracens faltered so Bath shone in the Somerset sun as they disposed of Saints for a five pointer, thus ensuring that they qualify as a host for the Saturday play offs.

It’s been a yo-yo season for Johann van Graan’s men and up until last weekend they looked as if their form curve drop-off would see them miss out but it’s testimony to the new-found resilience of Bath that they’ve now got their fate in their own hands as Twickenham beckons.

Six-try Bath come out on top against Northampton Saints to clinch second spot

Premiership Rugby

It wasn’t until the 79th minute of the season that we had real clarity of the play-off situations. At 3.00pm this afternoon, seven sides could qualify mathematically for the semi-finals and for a season to go so closely to the wire, for two teams to finish in the top two on 60 points and for the cliffhanger plot not to reveal until the last wind in the road will please the PRL team and particularly their Comms team, Jonny Fordham and Tom Hickson, whose efforts, knowledge and passion this season has seen the coverage opportunities reach new and outstanding heights.

It’s not only the drama, but the rugby we’ve been treated to has seen record scores, record crowds and record tries. Not bad for a sport that’s supposedly struggling to attract new fans. One thing is for sure- the product is outstanding and it’s been a white knuckle ride during The Run In to the very last moments.

England Rugby

England’s coaches will have learned a lot about their fringe players over this last round. Down at the Stoop, Chandler Cunningham-South, Max Malins, Luke Northmore and Harry Randall were in thrilling form as all had huge matches for their respective clubs. Bevan Rodd put in a performance of the highest quality alongside George Ford in the Sale win at the StoneX and elsewhere, Ben Spencer, Will Muir and Alfie Barbearry starred for Bath.

Not such good news for Steve Borthwick is Ellis Genge’s ankle/Achillies issue might keep him out of the frame for the New Zealand tour, but with the form of Rodd and also Fin Baxter, England have plenty of playing cover but they’ll rue the absence of Genge’s no-nonsense leadership.

Losers

Saracens

Make no mistake, Mark McCall and Owen Farrell will be spewing over the fact that their loss to Sale has cost them a home tie at Fortress StoneX. Sarries went in fully loaded to this match to claim their battleground, but came off very much second best to the side that they beat in last year’s Premiership Final.

For a few Sarries legends, Farrell, Sean Maitland and both Vunipolas, this will be the last time their skills grace the Sarries 4G pitch but they can leave their shirts behind, knowing they’re in a better place than when all four first picked them up over a decade ago and they will be disappointed that they won’t see the North London ground for one last time.

Whilst the trip to Saints is an unwelcome speed bump, it might very well be the kick up the inspiration Sarries will need to get to the final. One thing we do know though is that Saints often struggle against the tightness of the Saracen game plan and the match on Friday May 31st at Franklins Gardens is going to be an absolute corker.

Quins and Bears

They couldn’t have done much more, especially Bristol who lost three key players in the first half yet still shoved a cricket score onto a Harlequins side that finally buckled under the cumulative workload of their last three weekends.

Quins’ loss at Exeter and Bristol’s form blip around the Christmas and New Year break has cost both clubs dearly, but it serves only to emphasise that a league is a nine-month affair and when the log has been as tight as it has all year, then one slip up costs you a play-off, it’s that simple.

Depleted Bristol beat Harlequins in thriller as both teams miss semi-finals spots

Newcastle Falcons

Played 18 Lost 18 is the dismal record of England’s northernmost club. Not one solitary win in the season and Steve Diamond will be pleased to close the door on the dressing room, send his players away to recharge and to plot the manner in which he turns this team around.

If he fails to do so, then real questions need to be asked about the long-term viability of rugby at Falcons as PRL needs ten competitive teams and bluntly put, the Falcons have been nothing but whipping boys this season.

To compound matters, Diamond loses both Phil Brantingham and Guy Pepper, both England candidates at prop and flank respectively, just to make his task even more spicy. It’s a story we look forward to watching develop with as much hope as a rugby fan can muster as Falcons have a great history in the Premiership.

Winless season confirmed for Newcastle who fall short to Gloucester in final round

Jasper Wiese

Big Jasper has been a Premiership superstar for three barreling seasons as he has dominated the carry stats in every aspect. Man of the Match in the 2022 Prem Final was to be his last match at Mattioli Wood Welford Road before he heads to Japan to join in the financial fun over there with a number of his Springbok teammates.

However, his last act in the Prem was to spear tackle Ross Vincent in the 68th minute in a dangerous enough act to see a red card waved in his direction, closing a wonderful Tigers career in the most ignominious manner possible.

Springbok red carded as Leicester Tigers end Exeter Chiefs’ play-off run

Leavers and Retirees missing out

It’s sad to see players of the calibre of Will Collier, Andre Esterhuizen, Jasper Wiese, Kyle Sinckler, Callum Sheedy, Magnus Bradbury, Louis Lynagh and many others wave their farewells today without getting that extra match that their talents so deserved. For others, like Farrell and the Vunipola’s, there will be another chance, but for those mighty men of the Premiership leaving their club, they’ve reached the final chapter in their fantastic careers.

We will likely not see those men again at domestic level but each and everyone has made a massive contribution to the Premiership and we thank them for sharing their journey with us.

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