Gloucester v Northampton Saints: Tom Vickers' big match preview

Mike Haywood will make his 200th Saints appearance at Gloucester on Friday night (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
Mike Haywood will make his 200th Saints appearance at Gloucester on Friday night (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

Fixture: Gloucester v Northampton Saints

Competition: Premiership Rugby Cup

Venue: Kingsholm, Gloucester

Date and kick-off time: Friday, November 9, 2018, 7.45pm

Television coverage: BT Sport 2

Referee: Greg Macdonald

Gloucester: Woodward; Banahan, Trinder, Twelvetrees, Thorley; Atkinson, Heinz (c); Hohneck, Hanson, Balmain; Savage, Slater; Evans, Kriel, Clarke.
Replacements: Walker, Rapava Ruskin, Knight, Grobler, Ackermann, Braley, Purdy, Hudson.

Saints: Furbank; Collins, Dingwall, Francis, Naiyaravoro; Grayson, Reinach; Davis, Haywood, Hill; Ribbans, Moon; Wood (c), Ludlam, Harrison.
Replacements: Fish, Waller, Franks, Ratuniyarawa, Gibson, Mitchell, Kellaway, Burrell.

Outs: Saints: Rory Hutchinson (knee), Ken Pisi (shoulder), Nafi Tuitavake (neck), Andy Symons (knee), Jamal Ford-Robinson (knee), Tom Emery (ankle), Harry Mallinder (knee), James Haskell (ankle), Matt Worley (concussion), James Craig (concussion), Ehren Painter (back)

Most recent meeting: Saturday, September 1, 2018: Gloucester 27 Saints 16 (Premiership)

Tom's preview: At Kingsholm on Friday night, the players taking to the field in Saints colours will be charged with maintaining their club's momentum.

Three wins have come since the difficult day against Clermont Auvergne last month, and Saints would love to stretch their winning streak to four this week.

It would further fuel the fires ahead of the return to Gallagher Premiership action next Saturday.

And it would add extra belief to the squad as they continue to implement the coaches' plans.

Saints' young guns have done a good job during recent weeks, not only stepping into the shoes of senior players, but excelling in them.

They have given boss Chris Boyd more food for thought as he continues to place real trust in anyone who performs well for him.

Age is just a number at Franklin's Gardens this season, with players allowed to show they are ready to step up on a consistent basis.

Senior players are being pushed by those tussling for their position and no one is allowed to feel safe in their shirt.

And if established stars don't perform, you can be sure Boyd will call on the youngsters who have impressed during the past two weeks.

Saints didn't have an easy start to the season in terms of results and there is no doubt things will get tougher over the next few weeks.

After the clash at Kingsholm, three key Premiership games lie in wait, with Wasps, Sale and Newcastle Falcons providing the opposition.

Saints will expect to do more than just compete in those matches, setting their sights on priceless Premiership wins as they bid to climb a slippery league ladder.

And they would be in great shape for that should they deliver against a strong Gloucester side on Friday night.

Tom's prediction: Gloucester 25 Saints 18