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Miles expects Saracens and Bath to bring curtain down in style

Saracens Posted 3rd May 2013 view comments

Bath have everything to play for on the final day of the regular season as they go in search of a Heineken Cup spot at Allianz Park.

Currently in seventh spot on the Premiership table, Bath must beat league leaders Saracens and hope that Gloucester beat Exeter if they want to join Europe's top table.

Saracens may have are already booked themselves a home tie in the play-offs but will be disappointed with their Heineken Cup semi-final defeat to Toulon last weekend and Miles Harrison is expecting a fine performance from both clubs.

Sarries hooker Schalk Brits on the charge

Sarries hooker Schalk Brits on the charge

How difficult will it be for Sarries to get over that loss to Toulon and really concentrate on this game, especially as they have already qualified for the play-offs?

MILES REPLIES: I honestly don't think it will be too difficult at all in that this game will immediately refocus their minds on what still lies in front of them this season and that is a great chance to win a trophy! In the final analysis on Europe, of course Saracens will be disappointed but to get to a semi-final in the Heineken Cup is no disgrace. There is a wealth of professionalism in this squad and I'm sure they will now fully zone in on all things Premiership. They will be looking to make sure that they just don't finish top of the table for the first time in their history but also walk away with that title again come the end of May.

James needs to stay on alert because I can't remember a Lions tour when all the props stayed fit throughout the trip. Also, I bet this weekend's front-row meeting with the Lions selections Mako Vunipola and Matt Stevens will be a bit tasty!

Miles Harrison
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What lessons would they have learnt from last week's game?

MILES REPLIES: Now that's a different sort of question and, of course, there are lessons that Saracens can learn from their European exit. They will be even more aware now that the chances in games like those come along much less frequently and, in Europe, at the high end, they simply have to be taken if you want to progress all the way to the top. Saracens will undoubtedly want to continue to develop their game to the point where they have the armoury to take such chances and win such matches. Very often in sport you have to go through certain moments to obtain your ultimate goal and this might well be what we are seeing here with Saracens.

Bath still have an outside chance of making the Heineken Cup this year - if they beat Sarries and Exeter lose to Gloucester - but is there there a sense of underachievement at Bath this season?

MILES REPLIES: Well, I think there will be certainly a sense of disappointment if Bath fail to qualify for Europe and that does seem the most likely scenario given that they are at Saracens and Exeter have a home game against Gloucester. Bath is a club that at the very least needs to be in the Heineken Cup. But, the investment that is being made in Bath at the end of this season, all the signings being announced, shows that this is a longer term project under the guidance of Gary Gold and his coaching team. It is next season when Bath will be really looking to see the ship move in the right direction and I suppose that's when the big judgements will start to be made.

This is the first time in the professional era that no Bath player will tour with the Lions this summer - do you think any of their players were unlucky to miss out? Would props Paul James and Davie Wilson feel aggrieved?

MILES REPLIES: There are lots of players who didn't make the cut that will feel pretty upset this week and I suppose Paul James and Davie Wilson are on that list - both have played well this season. I had heard James' name mentioned a few times; Wilson's less so. Ryan Grant of Scotland and Mike Ross of Ireland were names on more people's lips but someone like James needs to stay on alert because I can't remember a Lions tour when all the props stayed fit throughout the trip. Also, I bet this weekend's front-row meeting with the Lions selections Mako Vunipola and Matt Stevens will be a bit tasty! However, when it comes to the selection of the Saracens duo - Vunipola is a prop with a clear point of difference and Stevens has been watched by coach Graham Rowntree for some time now and his all-round game this season has caught the coach's eye.

How do you see this one going then Miles and will it have any impact on the final standings?

MILES REPLIES: Probably not in that Saracens must be favourites - so them to finish top and Bath to miss out on the top six - is the sensible call. But, Bath proved against Leicester that, when they get it right, they can be a handful, although this hasn't happened away from home for some time now. But, the weather is good - the surface we know will be perfect - so let's hope for a fine finish to the regular campaign. And, as ever, we look forward to your company on Saturday afternoon.

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