Worcester Warriors v Northampton Saints: Tom Vickers' match preview

Saints ended a five-match losing streak by beating the Dragons last Saturday (picture: Sharon Lucey)
Saints ended a five-match losing streak by beating the Dragons last Saturday (picture: Sharon Lucey)

Fixture: Worcester Warriors v Northampton Saints

Competition: Aviva Premiership (round eight)

Venue: Sixways, Worcester

Date: Saturday, November 18, 2017

Kick-off time: 1pm

Television coverage: None

Worcester Warriors: Pennell; Heem, Willison, Mills, Adams; Lance, Hougaard; Waller, Singleton, Schonert; O'Callaghan (c), Spencer; Faosiliva, Lewis, van Velze.

Replacements: Williams, Bower, Milasinovich, Phillips, Scotland-Williamson, Dowsett,Olver, Hammond.

Saints: Mallinder; Pisi, Horne, Burrell, Collins; Myler, Reinach; Waller, Haywood, Brookes; Paterson, Dickinson (c); Wood, Gibson, Harrison.

Replacements: Marshall, van Wyk, Ford-Robinson, Moon, Eadie, Groom, Francis, Foden.

Outs: Saints: Charlie Clare (knee), James Craig (concussion), Christian Day (leg), Jamie Elliott (hamstring), George Furbank (knee), Lewis Ludlam (illness), George North (knee), David Ribbans (ankle)

Referee: Andrew Jackson

Most recent meeting: Saturday, February 25, 2017: Saints 24 Worcester Warriors 14 (Aviva Premiership)

Tom's preview: Back in November 2013, Saints travelled to Sixways with a big favourites tag around their neck.

They were facing a Worcester team who had lost all eight of their Premiership matches during the formative stage of the season.

And Jim Mallinder's men were desperate to avoid being the ones who slipped up on the sizeable banana skin.

It took them some time to negotiate it as Worcester got the nerves jangling by going ahead on a couple of occasions.

But Saints' class eventually told, with tries from Samu Manoa, Tom Collins and Tom Wood getting the job done.

And they will once again be asked to hold their nerve this weekend.

Worcester go into the game having lost all seven of their league matches and the pressure is on.

But there will also be expectancy on the shoulders of Saints, who need to bounce back from two successive Premiership defeats.

It is an intriguing battle, and one which Saints can win should they play to their full potential.

They will be aware of the threats Worcester pose, with the Warriors having scored plenty of tries in recent weeks.

But if Saints' own attacking game clicks, like it did during September, they should have too much for their hosts.

It is sure to be an entertaining encounter with two sides who have shown their strength in going forward this season.

What could decide it is how capable they are of doing the dirty work in defence and up front.

Saints have been working hard on those areas during recent weeks and they know they need to display significant improvement in three key league games to come.

Fixtures against Worcester, Sale and Newcastle are deemed winnable, if Jim Mallinder's men reach the levels they believe they can.

And a good return from this block of Premiership matches would set them up for festive fixtures against Exeter and Harlequins.

When they avoided a big shock at Sixways in that game four years ago, Saints went on to win the title.

Talk of that is much further away this time round, but a win this weekend would keep them where they feel they belong in this season's league standings.

Tom's prediction: Worcester 21 Saints 28