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By Blue Shark
May 16 2018

New writer Blue Shark emerges from the depths of the clear Mersey waters and looks ahead to semi-final time in two competitions….    

Sorry if you were expecting a 46-year-old Welsh tenor called Wynne Evans – he of the evening dress and the twirly moustache - to invite you to take up an attractive insurance offer, but I’m here purely for the rugby.

A long nine days after the final-round demise of Sale Sharks’ European Champions Cup hopes, I forced myself to take a good look at the final Aviva Premiership table (it is the last one because there’s a new sponsor next season).

Sale Sharks were eighth with a points difference of +25. It doesn’t really matter, because – as will be mentioned again soon enough – wins count. It’s just galling that, one place above, with a -107 record, are the team who slipped up in Bilbao, Gloucester. Sharks accounted for 47 of those at the AJ Bell on 29th September. 57-10, what a night! But I digress.

Bath sneaked into sixth at the death, then came Leicester “it’s an early end to the season for us” Tigers.  They were equal on points (56) with fourth-placed Falcons, and this is where the wins come in, for Dean Richards’ team were victorious fourteen times, same as Wasps who were eight points clear of them. 

Sharks were assisted by fourteen bonus points, bettered only by table toppers Exeter Chiefs, who take on the Falcons at Sandy Park this Saturday in the second semi-final.  Sarries (2nd) v. Wasps (3rd) is the lunchtime fare.

There’s a constant background suggestion that the Guinness Pro 14,  having no promotion and relegation, is less intense than England’s premier competition.  Surely that has been blown out of the water on the European stage

The winners in Bilbao, Cardiff Blues and Leinster, ply their trade in that competition. I watched both games (intensely – of course!) and I’ll be following their semi-finals closely this weekend.  Holders Scarlets travel to Scotstoun on Friday to face Glasgow, whilst there’s bound to be a mighty battle at the RDS on Saturday when Leinster take on Munster.

All four games are bound to be close encounters, and I’m going to compare the intensity with a keener eye than usual.  Who are your winners?

I can’t see past Chiefs, Sarries and Leinster but my surprise package could well be from Scotland.  Enjoy your rugby if you’re not tied up with the Royal Wedding and the FA Cup Final………

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