Northampton Saints v Leicester Tigers: Tom Vickers' match preview

George North starts for Saints against Tigers on Saturday (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
George North starts for Saints against Tigers on Saturday (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

Fixture: Northampton Saints v Leicester Tigers

Competition: Aviva Premiership - round two

Venue: Franklin's Gardens, Northampton

Date: Saturday, September 9, 2017

Kick-off time: 4.30pm

Television coverage: BT Sport 3

Saints: Tuala; North, Horne, Burrell, Collins; Mallinder, Groom; Waller, Hartley (c), Brookes; Paterson, Day; Lawes, Gibson, Harrison.

Replacements: Haywood, Ma'afu, Hill, Ratuniyarawa, Ludlam, Reinach, Grayson, Foden.

Leicester Tigers: Veainu; Malouf, Smith, Toomua, May; Ford, B Youngs; Genge, T Youngs (c), Cole; Barrow, Kitchener; Hamilton, O'Connor, Kalamafoni.

Replacements: Thacker, Bateman, Mulipola, Williams, Ryan, Harrison, Ford, Tait.

Outs: Saints: Piers Francis (jaw), Stephen Myler (knee), Mitch Eadie (ankle), Tom Wood (shoulder), David Ribbans (unknown)

Referee: JP Doyle (134th Premiership game)

Most recent meeting: Saturday, March 25, 2017: Saints 31 Leicester Tigers 36 (Aviva Premiership)

Tom's preview: "We don't want them to forget it."

Those are the words of Saints attack coach Alan Dickens, who attended this week's media day at Franklin's Gardens.

He was speaking about his players and the need for them to bottle up what happened at Twickenham last Saturday.

He wants them to hold onto the hurt they felt after shipping seven tries in the first half of the 55-24 Aviva Premiership opening-day evisceration against Saracens.

And he wants them to release it by piling into traditional rivals Leicester Tigers on Saturday.

The Tigers, too, will be hurting.

They began their season with a 27-23 loss on home soil against Bath last Sunday.

But Saints' defeat was far more humiliating, far more embarrassing and far more painful.

Now they are tasked with avoiding a repeat against a club who have won the past seven east midlands derbies.

But Saints have been acutely aware that talk is cheap this week.

They know the only way to prove the Saracens game wasn't a sign of things to come is to beat Tigers this weekend.

They need to summon all of the spirit of memorable derby day wins of years gone by.

Several members of the current squad were involved the last time a Northampton team toppled Leicester.

That win came in December, 2014, with Saints showing incredible fighting spirit after Dylan Hartley's first-half sending off.

And they will need no less 'blood and guts', as Tom Wood described it this week, at the Gardens on Saturday.

How they would love a strong start in this crucial derby.

The last thing they need is Tigers to strike early, adding to the pressure that will already be on the shoulders of the home players.

Saints need to come out of the blocks quickly and continue to build towards what would be a big victory.

It is extremely early in the season to be talking about must-win matches, but there is no doubt this is vital for Jim Mallinder's men.

They need to kick their campaign into life ahead of another home game, against Bath, next Friday.

And they desperately need to give their supporters something to cheer.

Many fans were left feeling shame after last Saturday's shocking showing.

And although Saints scored three times against Saracens in the second half, it was no real consolation.

The only consolation will be if Saints can use their humbling Twickenham experience to take down Tigers in what is set to be a fraught fixture at Franklin's Gardens this weekend.

Tom's prediction: Saints 25 Leicester 22