Harlequins v Northampton Saints: Tom Vickers' big match preview

Fixture: Harlequins v Northampton Saints

Thursday, 18th November 2021, 12:12 pm
Updated Thursday, 18th November 2021, 12:14 pm
Connor Tupai celebrated with Tom Litchfield after the centre secured Saints a try bonus point against London Irish last weekend

Competition: Premiership Rugby Cup (pool game two)

Venue: Twickenham Stoop, London

Date and kick-off time: Friday, November 19, 2021, 7.45pm

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Weather forecast: 11c, mostly cloudy

Live television coverage: None

Referee: Mike Hudson

Harlequins: David; Beard, Jones, Anyanwu, Morris; Benson, Steele, Garcia Botta, Musk, Trenier; Tizard, Hammond; Taulani, Wallace, White (c).

Replacements: Head, Osborne, Hobson, Scotland-Williamson, Alikhan, Stafford, Hyde, Green.

Saints: Hendy; Gillespie, Litchfield, Hutchinson, Collins; J Grayson, Tupai; Iyogun, Haywood, Carey; Moon, Coles (c); Wilkins, Newman, Irvine.

Replacements: Fish, Auterac, Garside, Lockett, Tonks, James, E Grayson, Skosan.

Not available for Saints selection: Matthew Arden, Callum Burns, Teimana Harrison, Oisín Heffernan, Dani Long-Martinez, Reece Marshall, Taqele Naiyaravoro, Brandon Nansen, Matt Proctor, Ollie Sleightholme, Kayde Sylvester, Ahsee Tuala, Tom Wood, Dan Biggar, Tommy Freeman, George Furbank, Courtney Lawes, Frank Lomani, Lewis Ludlam, Sam Matavesi, Alex Mitchell, Api Ratuniyarawa.

Most recent meeting: Sunday, March 7, 2021: Harlequins 37 Saints 19 (Gallagher Premiership)

Tom's preview: Alex Coles said it best this week: "Everyone's very aware of the fact that losing and winning become habits."

Last weekend's captain was asked about how vital it is that Saints get back on the horse against Harlequins on Friday night.

If they don't, it will be four successive defeats for the black, green and gold.

And, of course, they have been down that road before.

During a barren 2020, they were beaten in 12 successive matches in all competitions.

It was a dark hole that they found themselves in before finally ending the sorry streak against Worcester Warriors on Boxing Day.

And they do not want to get anywhere close to that kind of horror run again.

Instead, they really need a shot in the arm this week or, at the very latest, next Friday when the Premiership action returns with a game against Bristol Bears at Ashton Gate.

But the fixture list hardly gives them any easy outs.

After taking on Bath on December 4, Saints will face Racing 92, Ulster, Harlequins and Saracens.

Then it's a trip to the north-east to face Newcastle before further clashes with Ulster and Racing 92.

It is an incredibly tough set of games, and Saints really need to go into the festive period with some momentum.

That can start this week if they can prevail at the Twickenham Stoop.

It doesn't matter that most of the men considered the first-team won't be the ones wearing the black, green and gold.

They are all part of the Saints picture.

And how great it would feel for these players, many of them young, to be the ones to kick-start a better run of form.

They just have the small matter of beating a side fielded by the current Gallagher Premiership champions to contend with first.

Tom's prediction: Just as with last week, these games are so hard to predict. But let's keep the faith for another week and say Saints will snatch the victory. Harlequins 24 Saints 30.