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Full-on battle for Cup semi-final places

All four semi-final places and potential home advantage in the knockout stages are still to play for as the Premiership Rugby Cup reaches its unique derby round this weekend with Leicester Tigers at home to Northampton Saints.

Five of the six fixtures kick off simultaneously at 3.00pm on Saturday, meaning anything could happen in the final round of the qualifying stages.

Tigers host Saints in the first derby day of the season at Welford Road knowing that victory would put them in the frame for the last four. And while Saints cannot qualify from their group, they will need no further motivation than a derby to bring out their best at the home of their local rivals.

After the 18-7 win at Bath in round 3, Tigers are second in Pool C with nine points, one behind leaders Exeter Chiefs. Final placings are still wide open, though, with Worcester (6 points) and Bath (5) also still within reach of second spot in the tightest of the pools.

The three pool winners will be joined by the best runner-up in the semi-finals, with Sale Sharks top seeds so far with 14 points from three wins in Pool A. Saracens and Wasps are also still in the fight from the pool, while Harlequins and Bristol Bears are in the driving seat from Pool B.

After Gloucester and Bath set the ball rolling on Round 4 in front of the BT Sport cameras on Friday evening, Exeter host Bristol in the other televised game on Saturday. Saracens face Harlequins, Wasps are at home to Worcester Warriors and Sale Sharks go to London Irish as Tigers welcome Saints.

The criteria used to determine rankings of the teams within the pools is as follows:

  • Greatest league points
  • Most wins
  • Greatest points difference
  • Greatest points for
  • Most tries
  • Disciplinary record (red cards)
  • Match points from the game between the two clubs
  • Determined by draw

Seeding of the semi-finalists is as follows:

  • League points
  • Wins
  • Points difference
  • Points for
  • Tries scored
  • Disciplinary record (red cards)
  • Determined by draw

In the semi-finals, the team seeded 1 will be at home to the highest-ranked pool runner-up and the second-seeded team hosts the team seeded 3. The final in March will be held at the home ground of the finalist team which finished with the highest seeding in the pool stages.