Northampton Saints v London Irish: Tom Vickers' big match preview

Fixture: Northampton Saints v London Irish

Friday, 12th November 2021, 12:38 pm
Kayde Sylvester

Competition: Premiership Rugby Cup (pool game one of four)

Venue: cinch Stadium at Franklin's Gardens, Northampton

Date and kick-off time: Saturday, November 13, 2021, 3.30pm

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Weather forecast: 12c, mostly cloudy

Live television coverage: None

Referee: Greg Macdonald

Saints: Hendy; Gillespie, Litchfield, Hutchinson, E Grayson; J Grayson, James; Iyogun, Haywood, K Garside; Moon, Nansen; Coles (c), Sylvester, Wilkins.

Replacements: Marshall, Auterac, Carey, Lockett, Irvine, Newman, Tupai, Collins.

London Irish: Stokes; Rowe, van Rensburg, Williams, Redmond; Jennings, O’Sullivan; Dell, Cornish, Parker; Nott, Munga; Cooke (c), Curtis-Harris, Cracknell.

Replacements: Willemse, Dever, Green, Mafi, Moore-Aiono, Englefield, Atkins, Cokanasiga.

Not considered for Saints selection: Matthew Arden, Callum Burns, Oisín Heffernan, Dani Long-Martinez, Taqele Naiyaravoro, Matt Proctor, Ollie Sleightholme, JJ Tonks, 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: Saturday, October 2, 2021: Saints 23 London Irish 21 (Gallagher Premiership)

Tom's preview: For Saints supporters heading to the Gardens on Saturday, it will be hard to know what to expect from the home side that will take to the field.

After all, many of the faces are fresh and so are the combinations within the team.

But one thing that you can be sure of is that appetite levels among the Saints players will be as high as is humanly possible.

Because for so many, this is the chance to shine in the black, green and gold.

With no Wanderers action for so long, fringe players and talented youngsters have been sent to Bedford Blues to learn their trade and keep their bodies ticking over.

But on Saturday, they finally get to run out in the environment they have dreamed of.

There will be several debuts and the words of the coaches will be ringing in their ears, with Matt Ferguson this week warning his men that 'this is not the Wanderers'.

While the fixture doesn't carry the significance of a Premiership or European encounter, it is certainly meaningful for many of the young men in this Saints squad.

This is their chance to stake a claim, to show how strong the Academy setup continues to be and to represent the club they have grown up at.

There will be no backwards steps from the boys in black, green and gold.

Highly-rated youngsters such as Manny Iyogun and Kayde Sylvester will get an opportunity to signpost a bright future for Saints.

And for so many reasons, this is an exciting occasion.

Many current and former Saints stars took their first footsteps in this competition.

And on Saturday, it will be more of the same as supporters get a glimpse not only of today, but tomorrow, too.

Tom's prediction: It's really hard to know what to expect from two much-changed sides, but Saints have home advantage and I'd expect them to get the job done in front of their own fans. Saints 31 London Irish 23.