Northampton Saints v Newcastle Falcons: Tom Vickers' big match preview

Fixture: Northampton Saints v Newcastle Falcons

By Tom Vickers
Friday, 3rd June 2022, 12:33 pm
David Ribbans is ready to return for Saints, and he will hope to be celebrating again on Saturday
David Ribbans is ready to return for Saints, and he will hope to be celebrating again on Saturday

Competition: Gallagher Premiership

Venue: cinch Stadium at Franklin's Gardens, Northampton

Date and kick-off time: Saturday, June 4, 2022, 3pm

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Weather forecast: 17c, mostly cloudy

Live television coverage: BT Sport 1

Referee: Karl Dickson

Saints: Furbank; Proctor, Dingwall, Hutchinson, Freeman; Biggar, Mitchell; Waller, Matavesi, Hill; Coles, Ratuniyarawa; Lawes, Hinkley, Ludlam (c).

Replacements: Haywood, Iyogun, Painter, Ribbans, Nansen, Augustus, James, Skosan.

Newcastle Falcons: Tait; Radwan, Orlando, Burrell, Carreras; Hodgson, Young; Brocklebank, McGuigan, Davison; Peterson, Robinson; Graham, Basham, Chick (c).

Replacements: Blamire, Mulipola, Kenny, Merrick, Fearns, Nordi-Kelemeti, Haydon-Wood, Wacokecoke.

Not considered for Saints selection: Matthew Arden, Conor Carey, Teimana Harrison, Ollie Newman, Tom Wood.

Most recent meeting: Wednesday, March 30, 2022: Saints 34 Newcastle 26 (Premiership Rugby Cup)

Tom's preview: If you'd said on March 5 that come the final day of the regular season Saints would need a win to book a play-off semi-final spot, some psychological assessment may have been suggested.

But here we are, three months on, with Chris Boyd's side a victory away from booking their place in the Gallagher Premiership end-of-season shootout.

It's not quite fair to say they have enjoyed a seismic transformation because they were actually playing pretty well prior to March 5, when they suffered a fourth successive league defeat.

They really should have won three of those games, leading late on against Sale Sharks, Exeter Chiefs and Gloucester.

But they just couldn't get over the line and it looked as though any lingering hopes of a top-four finish had been well and truly extinguished.

However, what has been shown since then, by the bucketload in fact, is incredible character.

Saints have picked themselves up after a string of the most agonising defeats they have suffered during Boyd's four-year tenure.

And not only have they won matches, they have won them in sizzling style.

It hasn't always been easy - in fact Saints so often do things the hard way - but it has been so, so entertaining.

Saints have taken 27 points from the past 30 on offer in the Premiership, scoring at least four tries in each of their previous six matches.

They have come back from the dead at Bath, beaten Harlequins despite being beset by injuries and secured two crucial bonus points in stunning fashion at Saracens.

And that is before you even mention the three league games prior to those.

It has been a thrilling ride that has really reignited the passion supporters have for their team after a couple of difficult years.

And fans are now daring to dream again.

However, they will know just how many nightmare days they have had against Newcastle Falcons in recent years.

Dean Richards' side have caused plenty of upsets at cinch Stadium at Franklin's Gardens.

And they will be desperate to deliver another in Richards' final game in charge.

But Saints know a win, any win, will do.

They have been good at getting them in recent months and now it's time to make sure the fun continues for at least another week.

Tom's prediction: Saints know they must win, and if they can get ahead early on and build momentum, they can get the points they need to make the play-offs. Saints 35 Newcastle Falcons 23.