Northampton Saints v Harlequins: Tom Vickers' big match preview

Fixture: Northampton Saints v Harlequins

Thursday, 31st October 2019, 4:01 pm
Saints secured a dramatic win at Harlequins back in April

Competition: Gallagher Premiership (round three)

Venue: Franklin's Gardens, Northampton

Date and kick-off time: Friday, November 1, 2019, 7.45pm

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Television coverage: BT Sport 1

Weather forecast: 13c, cloudy

Referee: JP Doyle (173rd Premiership game)

Saints: Furbank; Collins, Hutchinson, Symons, Naiyaravoro; Grayson, Taylor; B Franks, Haywood, Painter; Ribbans, Moon; Wood, Gibson, Harrison (c).

Replacements: Van Vuuren, Waller, Hill, Ratuniyarawa, Coles, Tupai, Dingwall, Sleightholme.

​Harlequins: Morris, Ismaiel, Marchant, Tapuai, Ibitoye; Smith, Landajo; Lambert, Ella Ella, Kerrod; Lewies, Symons; Chisholm, Robshaw (c), Dombrandt.

Replacements: Baldwin, Auterac, Collier, Lamb, Bothma, Mulchrone, Herron, Campagnaro.

Outs: Saints: Francois van Wyk (elbow), Harry Mallinder (knee), Dylan Hartley (knee), Alex Mitchell (knee), Reece Marshall (hamstring), James Fish (head), Dan Biggar, Piers Francis, Courtney Lawes, Lewis Ludlam, Cobus Reinach (all World Cup duty).

Most recent meeting: Saturday, April 13, 2019: Harlequins 19 Saints 20 (Gallagher Premiership)

Tom's preview: Saints will have to beware a side seeking vengeance at Franklin's Gardens on Friday night.

Harlequins head north looking to set the record straight after the black, green and gold inflicted last-gasp misery on them not once but twice towards the end of last season.

First came James Grayson's conversion at The Stoop, which sealed a late win for Saints against Quins in April.

And then came the events of a thrilling conclusion to the Gallagher Premiership regular season as Quins missed a kick at Wasps that would have sent them into the play-offs at the expense of Saints.

As it was, Chris Boyd's men booked their place in the end-of-season shoot-out, eventually losing at Exeter Chiefs.

And now Saints and Quins will meet again much earlier in the campaign as the pair look to mount another bid to finish in the top four this time round.

Both have started well, with Quins coming close to winning at Exeter before defeating a good Bristol team last weekend.

Saints have won both of their matches, earning a superb success at Saracens before showing real character to slay Worcester Warriors last weekend.

It means the black, green and gold sit top of the embryonic league standings, and they will be eager to stay there by the time the weekend is finished.

To do so, they must continue a fine record against Quins, which has seen the men from the capital lose their past eight games at the Gardens in all competitions.

They haven't won in Northampton since securing an 18-9 win in December 2012, and they have won just two of their past 12 games against Saints in the Premiership.

So, the signs are good for Boyd's side.

But those sort of statistics were in Saracens' favour when they welcomed Saints on the opening day of the season - and we all know what happened next.

So nothing will be taken for granted, especially against a side who will be eager to ensure revenge is a dish best served cold.

They will get that chance on Friday night, but this Saints side has shown the kind of steel needed to win in such situations.

And they will be expected to do so again.

Tom's prediction: Harlequins can be unpredictable but their away form isn't the best and Saints should be able to get the job done, as long as they play more like they did in the second half than in the first last weekend. Saints 32 Harlequins 20