Jan 19, 2018
MATCH PREVIEW: Saracens vs Northampton Saints
Saracens host Northampton Saints at Allianz Park on Saturday afternoon as they look to qualify through to the Quarter-Finals of the Champions Cup.
The North Londoners sit in 3rd place in Pool 2 and know that only a bonus-point victory will be enough for them to stand a chance of progressing through to the next stage of the competition that they have won for the last two seasons.
Northampton, meanwhile, are out of the competition following four defeats in their first four Pool 2 games before winning their first against Clermont last weekend at Franklin’s Gardens in a thrilling encounter that finished 34-21.
Pool 2 has been hugely competitive this season and whoever emerges following this weekend’s action will be due a huge deal of credit as it really has been a ‘Pool of Death’ with both of last season’s finalists taking their place in the Pool.
Saracens have won the previous two encounters between the sides in European competition (09/04/2016, 29-20 & 15/10/2017, 13-57) and will look to continue the run this weekend having also beaten Northampton on both occasions they’ve played each other this season.
One good sign for The Men in Black is that they have won all seven of their Champions Cup games against Premiership opposition, the last being October’s 13-57 win, the heaviest ever inflicted on Northampton in European competition.
Last weekend’s 15-15 draw against Ospreys was only Sarries’ second ever in European competition after 87 games and Mark McCall has said that his team will ensure they produce a good performance as they seek to make amends this week.
He explained: “We know what’s required but it’s never nice when things aren’t in your control, but what is in our control is Saturday and putting in a good performance, trying to maximise what we can get out of the game.”
Skipper Brad Barritt played in that draw and also spoke of his desire for the team to keep up their hard work and emphasised the need to not focus on a specific points target, saying: “As a team you can never put a goal there in terms of points or scores, we’re going to have to take it minute-by-minute and that’s the way this team best operates.”