Leicester Tigers v Northampton Saints: Tom Vickers' match preview

Tom Collins scored as Saints beat Leicester at the Gardens back in September (picture: Sharon Lucey)
Tom Collins scored as Saints beat Leicester at the Gardens back in September (picture: Sharon Lucey)

Fixture: Leicester Tigers v Northampton Saints

Competition: Aviva Premiership

Venue: Welford Road, Leicester

Date and kick-off time: Saturday, April 14, 2018, 3pm

Television coverage: Channel 5 and BT Sport 2

Leicester Tigers: Veainu; Thompstone, Smith, Toomua, May; Ford, Harrison; Genge, T Youngs (c), Cole; Fitzgerald, Kitchener; Mapapalangi, Hamilton, Kalamafoni.

Replacements: Polota-Nau, Bateman, Mulipola, Wells, Evans, B Youngs, Worth, Holmes.

Saints: Tuala; Foden, Horne (c), Francis, North; Myler, Reinach; Ma'afu, Haywood, Hill; Ratuniyarawa, Craig; Gibson, Harrison, Eadie.

Replacements: Clare, Waller, Painter, Paterson, Nutley, Mitchell, Burrell, Collins.

Outs: Saints: Courtney Lawes (knee), Dylan Hartley (concussion), Tom Wood (groin), Heinrich Brüssow (hamstring), David Ribbans (shoulder), Harry Mallinder (illness), Reece Marshall, Kieran Brookes, Jamal Ford-Robinson, Christian Day,

Referee: Matthew Carley (71st Premiership match)

Most recent meeting: Saturday, September 9, 2017: Saints 24 Leicester Tigers 11 (Aviva Premiership)

Tom's preview: There hasn't been much to smile about for Saints this season - but a win at Welford Road would certainly be a beacon of light amid the gloom.

Whether the black, green and gold can deliver it is another matter.

Saints have lost five successive games going into this weekend's east midlands encounter, while Leicester's form is the antithesis, with Tigers having won five in a row.

The old adage suggests that form goes out of the window on derby day.

And Saints will certainly hope that is true this weekend.

Because they have not won at Welford Road since February 2007, during a season that eventually ended in relegation from the top flight.

And they know a victory at Tigers this weekend would make certain their Premiership status for another year.

In truth, there should not be much danger of the drop as basement side London Irish, who are 10 points behind Saints, face Exeter Chiefs, Saracens and Bath in their final three games.

But Saints know they should not be relying on other teams and they will be so desperate to secure safety in style on Saturday.

That kind of desperation and drive was evident during the first half of last Saturday's 63-13 defeat to Saracens.

But what happened after half-time was so far from what was required as they produced surely the worst half in Northampton Saints history, shipping 48 unanswered points.

It was an embarrassing experience for the home players and the only way to wipe it from the memory is to win at Welford Road this weekend.

Another sloppy showing simply won't be accepted by supporters.

But, sadly, it seems many expect it these days.

There are three more chances to salvage some pride from this sorry season, and the biggest comes against a Tigers team Saints stunned at the Gardens back in September.

On that occasion, the black, green and gold bounced back from the previous week's Twickenham torture against Saracens to secure a 24-11 success.

Needless to say it was one of Saints' best showings of the campaign.

They barely gave Tigers a sniff throughout, bullying the old enemy in a brutal display.

And much more of the same will be required if Saints are to even get close to claiming their first league double over Leicester since the 2003/04 season.

Tom's prediction: Leicester Tigers 33 Saints 18