- Exeter Chiefs clash with Ospreys marks 50 days to go until LV= Cup Final
- Sandy Park will host Cup climax on Sunday, March 16
Photo: RFU Archive
This Saturday will mark 50 days to go until the LV= Cup Final heads to Sandy Park, and what better way to count down to the occasion than with Exeter Chiefs kicking off their Round 3 game at home against the Ospreys.
With both teams propping up their respective pools, Round 3 offers a last attempt for each club to reignite their LV= Cup hopes. Exeter will need a win if they are to stay within reaching distance of the top spot, currently occupied by Leicester Tigers, whilst their opposition Ospreys will need to rely on fellow Pool 4 teams dropping points during the final two stages if they are to progress.
Leicester, who have beaten Ospreys and Worcester thus far, have arguably the toughest test on paper with a trip to reigning champions Harlequins in Round 3. Harlequins have won four out of the last five meetings between the sides in all competitions, including a 23-16 success at Welford Road in the league at the start of November.
Harlequins' hold on the trophy will be over if Pool 3 rivals Bath succeed in beating Cardiff Blues at The Rec on Saturday afternoon. Bath are on a 10-match winning streak at home in all competitions and won 29-19 the last time they played the Blues in the LV= Cup on November 5, 2010. To date Bath have beaten Sale Sharks and Exeter, while the Blues recovered from an opening round loss at home to Worcester – the Warriors' only victory so far this season - with a 21-13 victory at Ospreys.
Former winners Northampton Saints, who lifted the trophy in 2010, are five points clear of Pool 4 rivals Scarlets and Newcastle. Saints travel to east Wales on Saturday to play Newport Gwent Dragons at Rodney Parade. This will be the fifth time the sides have met in the LV= Cup, with Saints boasting three wins to the Dragons' one. Tonderai Chavhanga scored a hat-trick of tries for the Dragons but still ended up on the losing side in the last clash at Rodney Parade: a 30-20 win for Saints on November 18, 2012.
In the final game of the round on Sunday, Pool 1 pace-setters Saracens entertain 2011 finalists Newcastle Falcons at Allianz Park. Mark McCall's men have the only perfect record left in the competition following bonus-point victories over London Wasps and Scarlets. Should they win on Sunday they will all but mathematically be certain of reaching the semi-finals for the fourth time in six years, having progressed to the knockout stages in 2008, 2010 and 2013.
One thing is certain, all teams across the weekend's games will have a spot at the LV=Cup Final firmly on their agenda. Not only is it a chance to give valuable game time to some of the younger players, the promise of major silverware is a powerful motivator that can translate into teams other title hopes; so fans can expect exciting rugby!
Credited for playing a crucial role in the development of elite talent, seen most recently by the inclusion of 2013 LV= Breakthrough Player Jack Nowell in the England EPS, the LV= Cup climax will take place at the home of Exeter Chiefs on Sunday, March 16. The final presents an opportunity for English and Welsh clubs to pick up the season's first piece of silverware, currently held by 2012/13 winners Harlequins.
This year's final will be bringing together all members of the rugby family, from mums to uncles, kit men to ground staff, everyone is invited along to share the occasion at Sandy Park. Buy your tickets now at Ticketmaster and be part of the #rugbyfamily on March 16.
Round 3 fixtures
Friday, January 18
Scarlets v Gloucester, 19:30
Saturday, January 19
Sale Sharks v Worcester Warriors, KO 14:00
Newport Gwent Dragons v Northampton Saints, KO 14:00 (Live on Sky Sports HD)
Bath Rugby v Cardiff Blues, KO 15:00
Exeter Chiefs v Ospreys, KO 15:00
Harlequins v Leicester Tigers, KO 15:00
London Wasps v London Irish, KO 15:00
Sunday, January 20
Saracens v Newcastle Falcons, KO 15:00