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Baxter apologises for error

Exeter head coach Rob Baxter has apologised to his players for a club administrative error that could see the Chiefs docked Aviva Premiership points.

Baxter's men resume league business against Sandy Park visitors Saracens - but the threat of a Rugby Football Union sanction is hanging over them.

The RFU look likely to convene a disciplinary hearing following Chiefs' clerical mistake in the registration of their Fijian wing Nemani Nadolo and subsequently fielding three overseas players in a match-day squad - one more than permitted under Premiership rules. "It has been frustrating," said Baxter.

"We have worked very hard this season, and I have already spoken to the players to apologise to them. Anything that means that points we have worked and fought hard for could get taken away from the club is obviously very frustrating for them.

"It's nothing to do with the players at all. They have worked extremely hard and done everything we've asked them to do. You have got to kind of say that behind the scenes we've let them down a little bit."

Saracens could go top of the Premiership if they beat Exeter and leaders Leicester lose at home against Gloucester on Saturday. The Tigers will be without England lock Louis Deacon, who is due to see a specialist in Sweden about his troublesome Achilles' tendon.

Harlequins head to Bath on Saturday for a critical encounter in terms of both clubs' play-off and Heineken Cup qualification ambitions. Quins are currently sixth, one point above Bath from a game more, although they have a possible additional route into top-flight European competition next term through this season's Amlin Challenge Cup.

Bath though, have no alternative other than to secure a top-six Premiership finish, which is by no means guaranteed despite displaying an ability to play thrilling rugby at times this term. "Bath play a very open, expansive game and they will challenge us defensively all over the park," said Quins head coach John Kingston.

Quins have lost their last three league away games, but Bath forwards coach Martin Haag added: "Quins will offer physicality and they will come at us. It is important, especially in the first 20 minutes, that we play to our strengths. As we showed last weekend (against Exeter), if we look after the ball, there are opportunities. We've just got to finish those."

London Irish, three points clear of Quins in fifth, must beat Sale Sharks at Bolton Wanderers' Reebok Stadium - the 30th different venue used for Premiership rugby - to maintain any realistic play-off hopes. Sunday's Premiership action, meanwhile, sees relegation-threatened Leeds Carnegie tackling an injury-hit Wasps team at Adams Park.


From Belfast Telegraph