Bath boss Stuart Hooper will prepare his team to face Exeter next weekend, despite not knowing until Wednesday whether they have qualified for the Gallagher Premiership semi-finals.

ADVERTISEMENT

A 17-17 draw at Saracens has left the west country club sweating on the outcome of Sale’s clash with Worcester, which has been postponed until midweek after 16 Sharks players tested positive for coronavirus.

Sale must undergo additional testing overseen by Public Health England and an independent audit of their track and trace processes before the match can be staged.

Video Spacer

Video Spacer
Which Welsh players could make the British and Irish Lions?

If the game is given the all-clear and they win, then Steve Diamond’s men will advance to the semi-finals at Bath’s expense.

“It’s a unique situation. This is the time of year when normally everything is done at the same time,” Hooper said.

“So the only thing we can do is prepare for a semi-final as if we’re going down to Sandy Park. It’s a very strange situation, but one we’ve got to get on with very quickly.

“Before the game we talked about it being in our hands. We had that opportunity, but it’s out of our hands now.

ADVERTISEMENT

“We need to put our trust and faith in Premiership Rugby and Public Health England. We can’t do anything, we just need to prepare as if we’re playing in the semi and see where we go.

“Come Wednesday evening we’ll see where we are. We want to be in the top four competing with everyone and want everyone to have a fair crack and opportunity to play. We’re still in it right now.”

Bath were six minutes from victory and led 17-3 heading into the final quarter, but collapsed thanks to a penalty try and late touch down by Tim Swinson in a dramatic showdown at Allianz Park played out in dreadful conditions.

“We lost control of the game. We gave away two penalties at the set-piece and that gave them some energy back into the game,” Hooper said.

ADVERTISEMENT

“In the conditions, when they get into your final third it’s a difficult place to get out of.”

Saracens have long since been relegated for repeated salary cap breeches, but they put on one last display of trademark resilience to disrupt the play-off race.

“We look back on the last 10 months knowing it could have torn other teams apart, but we’re as connected as we have ever been,” Saracens boss Mark McCall said.

“We’ve seen over the last 10 months a number of young players emerging. The next seven or eight months is another great opportunity for them to get experience.

“We’re hopeful that if we can get ourselves back into the Premiership then we’ll have a good group of young players, as well as the ones we’ve retained.”

Mailing List

Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.

Sign Up Now