Leicester Tigers v Northampton Saints: Tom Vickers' big match preview

Saints won at Welford Road in March
Saints won at Welford Road in March

Fixture: Leicester Tigers v Northampton Saints

Competition: Premiership Rugby Cup (pool game four)

Venue: Welford Road, Leicester

Date and kick-off time: Saturday, November 12, 2019, 3pm

Referee: Christophe Ridley

Television coverage: None

Weather forecast: 14c, showers

Leicester Tigers: Worth; Thompstone, Forsyth, Eastmond, Holmes; Reid, White; Gigena, Youngs (c), Heyes; Spencer, Wells; Liebenberg, Reffell, Thompson.
Replacements: Kerr, Leatigaga, Cortes, Green, Boladau, Harrison, Hardwick, Olowofela.

Saints: Furbank; Olowofela, Dingwall, Symons, Naiyaravoro; Grayson, Taylor; van Wyk, Fish, Painter; Ribbans, Coles; Tonks, Brüssow, Harrison (c).
Replacements: van Vuuren, B Franks, Hill, Moon, Eadie, Mitchell, Hutchinson, Collins.

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: Friday, March 22, 2019: Leicester Tigers 15 Saints 29 (Gallagher Premiership)

Tom's preview: This weekend's trip to Tigers is probably the ideal fixture for Saints right now.

Not because they will be expecting to cruise to a win at Welford Road back in March.

In fact, it's the total opposite.

With Tigers still harbouring hopes of progressing from their Premiership Rugby Cup pool - never mind the fact it's an east midlands derby - Geordan Murphy's men will come out all guns blazing on Saturday afternoon.

For Saints, it will be a final test of their mettle before the serious stuff starts with the trickiest of trips, to Saracens, a week later.

And it will give them a chance not only to really sharpen up a defence that has shipped 129 points in three matches this season, but also to secure a morale boost before the league begins.

If they win, that is.

If they lose, and fail to show the desired improvement at Tigers, there will be worries.

Because although the Premiership Rugby Cup is bottom of the priority list this season, they do need some sort of momentum to take to Allianz Park.

If they lose, and lose badly at Leicester, they will be shorn of that.

But recent trips to Welford Road should give them confidence that it won't turn out like that on this occasion.

They have outgunned Leicester twice in as many meetings on Tigers turf, with belief finally flooding through the Franklin's Gardens camp ahead of derby-day dates.

In years gone by, Saints couldn't purchase a win at Welford Road.

Prior to their win there in April 2018, they hadn't prevailed at Tigers since February 2007.

It was a long old wait, and when they finally broke the curse, it felt so sweet for Saints.

Now they will be desperate to make it a hat-trick of wins in their old foe's back garden.

Tom's prediction: Leicester will really fancy this as they look to progress to the semi-finals, but Saints should give them a tough test. The Tigers team doesn't look too formidable and Saints could just sneak a win. Leicester 23 Saints 27