Northampton Saints v Saracens: Tom Vickers' match preview

Cobus Reinach scored in Saints' Champions Cup defeat at Saracens in January (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
Cobus Reinach scored in Saints' Champions Cup defeat at Saracens in January (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

Fixture: Northampton Saints v Saracens

Competition: Aviva Premiership

Venue: Franklin's Gardens

Date and kick-off time: Saturday, April 7, 2018, 2pm

Television coverage: None

Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys

Saints: Tuala; Tuitavake, Horne, Francis, North; Myler, Reinach; Ma'afu, Marshall, Brookes; Ratuniyarawa, Day (c); Ribbans, Gibson, Harrison.

Replacements: Clare, van Wyk, Painter, Paterson, Nutley, Mitchell, Collins, Foden.

Saracens: Williams; Maitland, Lozowski, Barritt, Wyles; Farrell, Spencer; M Vunipola, Brits, Figallo; Itoje, Kruis; Isiekwe, Cowan, Wray.

Replacements: George, Barrington, Longbottom, Day, Burger, Wigglesworth, Taylor, Earle.

Outs: Saints: Courtney Lawes (knee), Heinrich Brüssow (hamstring), Dylan Hartley, Mike Haywood (hip), Tom Wood (groin), Harry Mallinder, Jamal Ford-Robinson

Most recent meeting: Saturday, January 20, 2018: Saracens 62-14 Saints (Champions Cup)

Tom's preview: So, this is it: one final chance at Saracens-shaped redemption for Saints.

Three games have come and gone this season, and things have got progressively worse for the black, green and gold against their Barnet-based rivals.

Saints shipped 55 points against Saracens on Aviva Premiership opening day at Twickenham back in September.

They conceded 57 against Saracens in the October Champions Cup curtain raiser at Franklin's Gardens.

And just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, they went to Allianz Park and let in an alarming 62 points in January.

It has been a real tale of woe during the tortuos trilogy.

And now Saints are tasked with at least restoring their reputation.

In years gone by, tussles between the two clubs would be titanic.

Saints actually had the better of Saracens a few seasons ago, beating them regularly on their way to winning the Premiership in 2014.

But now the bragging rights are based firmly in Barnet.

And Saints will have to produce their best performance of a stuttering season if they are to start to put things right on Saturday.

One thing in their favour is that they have been able to put their feet up on the weekend before this game.

Saracens certainly have not, with Mark McCall's men beaten in a thunderous Champions Cup quarter-final at Leinster last Sunday.

Saints should be fresher.

And they must use that spring in their step to put belief in their bodies.

They should not be conceding a half-century of points to any side.

But they have clearly had a mental barrier against Saracens that has been difficult to break down this season.

They owe it to their supporters to shine this Saturday.

And if they can do that, they can at least bring some pride back to a club badge that has been badly damaged by Saracens this season.

Tom's prediction: Saints 16 Saracens 30