Yorkshire Carnegie head coach Bryan Redpath says “three or four” places are still up for grabs in his play-off plans.
They round off their regular Championship season at home to Ealing Trailfinders today – a side they could face for three successive weeks if they meet up in the semi-finals.
All the top-four has already been confirmed; promotion favourites London Irish comfortably secured first and, with last week’s bonus point win at Bedford Blues, Carnegie cannot now be caught in second place.
Ealing sit in third but if they lose today, and fourth-place Doncaster Knights spring a shock by beating visiting Irish, they could still be usurped by the South Yorkshire club.
First play fourth in the two-legged semi-finals and second versus fourth so all eyes will be on events at Headingley and Castle Park this afternoon.
However, with one eye firmly on the play-offs, Redpath has made 13 changes to his starting line-up with only centres Pete Lucock and Andy Forsyth remaining from the win at Bedford. Lock Dean Schofield captains the team on his return to the side whilst young No8 Brandon Staples makes his Championship debut after impressing in the British & Irish Cup earlier this season.
Asked if the result really matters today, Redpath replied: “It does matter to the guys playing and everyone involved.
“We have to try finish off as well as we can. Potentially we could play Ealing three weeks in a row which is unheard of.
“But we’ll give some players chance to play as some are going at the end of the season, some are staying, and whoever plays will want to do well.There’s probably three or four positions still up for grabs, too.”
One of Redpath’s goals was to secure a top-two place and, on doing that, he admitted: “It’s huge. We spent less money this year but strengthened with a bit more experience and that’s shown especially in the first 10 to 12 games when we were not performing great but coming through with 10 point wins.
“That experience will be really tested over the next month and we’re looking forward to it.”
West Leeds hope to reach Twickenham for a third successive season when they head to Solihull side Silhillians in their Intermediate Cup semi-final today.