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Premiership play-off predictions: Our experts on who will win semi-finals – do you agree?

Bath No 8 Alfie Barbeary gives the thumbs up
This Bath side feels different to the chokers of recent years - Getty Images/Patrick Khachfe

Ahead of this weekend’s Gallagher Premiership semi-finals, Telegraph Sport’s rugby writers give their expert views on who will make the final at Twickenham on June 8.

Northampton Saints v Saracens

Alex Mitchell gets the ball away under pressure from Saracens
Alex Mitchell gets the ball away under pressure from Saracens - Getty Images/David Rogers

I am breaking a long-term promise to myself never to bet against Saracens in these types of situations, but Northampton have shown they have the mettle to handle this type of occasion. From doing the double over Saracens to beating Munster away and running Leinster mighty close at Croke Park, Phil Dowson’s side have shown they are ready to shed their pretenders tag.
Predicted score: Northampton Saints 31 Saracens 26

There was an ominous calm about Saracens this week, with Owen Farrell pointing out that none of his colleagues will be defined by this semi-final and Mark McCall suggesting that an odd season, as well as the underdog tag for this game, could “free up” his players. Despite back-line injuries, the reigning champions will surely rouse themselves for a serious scrap. I would not be surprised if they prevail; I just think that Saints are good enough to prolong an impressive campaign and reach Twickenham.
Predicted score: Northampton Saints 28 Saracens 25

It should not end this way for Northampton, the best side in the country this season, but writing off Saracens, even an out-of-sorts Saracens, with so much on the line ahead of the departures of Farrell and the Vunipola brothers feels like dangerous territory.
Predicted score: Northampton Saints 21 Saracens 23

In this match, two things are certain: Northampton will score tries; Saracens will not roll over. To that end, expect a Friday-night cracker where Saints’ fluidity and harmony – coupled with home advantage – should see them home to give Courtney Lawes a deserved Twickenham swansong.
Predicted score: Northampton Saints 32 Saracens 26


Bath v Sale Sharks

Bath No 8 Alfie Barbery is tackled by Luke Cowan-Dickie and Jean-Luc du Preez
Bath No 8 Alfie Barbery is tackled by Luke Cowan-Dickie - Getty Images/David Rogers

Would you rather have home advantage or the hot hand? I am going with the form team. Sale have effectively been playing knockout rugby for the past two months and their pack has got a properly nasty edge to it. As impressive as Bath have been this season, they have lacked a signature victory this season.
Predicted score: Bath 12 Sale Sharks 18

Two home victories, for me. Sale have done quite brilliantly to get this far, and seem set to bring back Tom Curry to a snarling pack. George Ford is in a groove and relishes this time of year. Bath, though, possess creativity and dynamism. They can seize try-scoring chances while muscling up in the trenches – at the scrum and in the maul, gain-line and breakdown battles.
Predicted score: Bath 31 Sale Sharks 23

Given the torrid time third-placed teams have had in the play-offs – no side has made it since Saracens in 2010 – we are overdue someone breaking that curse and Sale are in form. But this Bath side feels different to the chokers of recent years and they have the pack and backs – including Finn Russell – to deliver.
Predicted score: Bath 29 Sale Sharks 19

Sale enter the final phase bulwarked by a stiff breeze, having won their final five league matches – including a first win at the StoneX – to leapfrog more fancied contenders into not just fourth, but third. Bath, however, should have too much firepower for the plucky Sharks, and the hosts’ strength in depth will be a defining factor in the closing stages. There is a pretty good fly-half battle on Friday night but in Finn Russell versus George Ford the Rec could play host to one of the all-time great showdowns.
Predicted score: Bath 29 Sale Sharks 20

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