Northampton Saints v Saracens: Tom Vickers' big match preview

Fixture: Northampton Saints v Saracens

Saturday, 5th October 2019, 1:00 pm
Saints were Premiership Rugby Cup winners last season

Competition: Premiership Rugby Cup (pool game three)

Venue: Franklin's Gardens

Date and kick-off time: Sunday, October 6, 2019, 3pm

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Saints saw off Saracens in March

Television coverage: BT Sport 1

Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys

Weather: 14 degrees, chance of showers

Saints: Hutchinson; Olowofela, Dingwall, Symons, Collins; Grayson, Taylor; van Wyk, van Vuuren, Painter; Ribbans, Moon; Tonks, Harrison (c), Eadie.

It was a fine day for Saints fans at Franklin's Gardens in March

Replacements: Ma'asi, Waller, Garside, Bean, Brüssow, Tupai, Mathews, Bird-Tulloch.

Saracens: Gallagher; Segun, Lozowski, Tompkins, Lewington; Vunipola, Whiteley; Barrington, Woolstencroft, Ibuanokpe; Skelton, Hunter-Hill; Christie, Reffell, Wray.

Replacements: Pifeleti, Crean, Wainwright, Kpoku, Isiekwe, Spencer, Watson, Obatoyinbo.

Outs: Saints: Harry Mallinder (knee), Dylan Hartley (knee), Alex Mitchell (knee), Reece Marshall (hamstring), Mikey Haywood (knee), Jamie Gibson (shoulder), Paddy Ryan (knee), Dan Biggar, Piers Francis, Courtney Lawes, Lewis Ludlam, Api Ratuniyarawa, Cobus Reinach, Ahsee Tuala (all international duty).

Most recent meeting: Sunday, March 17, 2019: Saints 23 Saracens 9 (Premiership Rugby Cup final)

Tom's preview: Back in March, Saints finally stole some silverware from Saracens' grasp.

It is something not many sides do, no matter what the competition or who the cast list.

Saracens even won the most recent sevens tournament at Franklin's Gardens as their trophy glut showed no sign of relenting.

So Saints can be proud that they deprived the Barnet-based outfit of a win in the Premiership Rugby Cup final towards the end of last season.

And they could be proud that they finally secured a new addition to their own first-team trophy cabinet, which had been gathering dust since the sensational spring of 2014.

But this weekend's meeting with Saracens will not have a trophy attached to it.

Instead, it carries less significance in terms of the result because of the stage of the season it comes at.

All sights are being set on another showdown with Saracens, the Gallagher Premiership opener on October 19.

But there is no doubt that Saints would dearly love to defeat their familiar foes at Franklin's Gardens again.

Gone are the days when wins against Saracens came freely.

In fact, Saints have lost nine successive league games against them since winning at Allianz Park in March 2016.

So you can see just how tough a task it is to defeat Mark McCall's men.

And though the Premiership Rugby Cup is not top of the agenda this time round, a win would be a real shot in the arm for Saints on Sunday.

They know results are not the most important thing during this cup period, which is serving as a kind of pre-season preparation.

But they also know they need some momentum that only victories can bring.

And if they can defeat Saracens and Leicester Tigers during the next two weeks, they will go to Allianz Park with belief flowing through the veins of every player.

The cup final victory against Saracens was part of a strong end to last season.

And now they will hope another success against the same side can help them secure a strong start to this one.

Tom's prediction: This is a really tough game to call because both teams have again named a real blend of youth and experience in this competition. Saracens will possess plenty of threat thanks to the likes of Alex Lewington and Alex Lozowski, but Saints will be fired up on home soil and can get their first win of the season - just. Saints 25 Saracens 23.