Nov 06, 2015
Northampton Saints vs Saracens - Match Preview
Saracens return to a new-look Franklin’s Gardens on Saturday afternoon, to face Premiership rivals Northampton Saints in what promises to be a blockbusting clash between the two sides.
However, The Men in Black won 29-24 in May’s semi-final before going on to defeat Bath 28-16 to lift the title.
Saracens head into Round Three with their unbeaten record in tact however didn’t have the easiest of days at the office last weekend against London Irish. With this being the final round before the European competition takes centre stage gaining a victory would add great momentum heading into the clash with French giants Toulouse however, as always, gaining a result at Franklin’s Gardens will be a tough ask.
The Northampton Saints haven’t enjoyed the type of start to the season that they would have liked. Jim Mallinder’s side have won just one of their opening three fixtures however will be rejuvenated playing on home soil for the first time this season now that their building work has been completed on their new stand.
Mark McCall is focused ahead of a testing away trip; “Of course we are pleased to be undefeated after three matches, but we do judge ourselves on our performance levels. Against London Irish there were aspects which were okay, but there were aspects we could improve on. We have a pretty big game now against Saints, our squad is pretty healthy at the moment and we need to try and rotate in a sensible fashion.”
Jim Mallinder knows full well how important this fixture against Saracens is; “It’s a disappointing start to the season for us; we’re not normally in this position so we need a reaction next week. It’s not all doom and gloom, its early in the season and we’ve got time to make it up – the Saracens game will be a cracker and I think George North will be fit for next week.”
Ones To Watch – Saracens
Alex Goode has enjoyed a purposeful start to the Aviva Premiership season after returning from England duties. The full back has maintained his rock solid form at the back and looks dynamic in attack being instrumental in a number of scores. This weekend his positional match up is against a man he knows well, Ben Foden, and it should be a great tussle between two fine full backs.
Brad Barritt makes a welcome return to Saracens colours after refreshing his body following England’s World Cup campaign. Brad’s defensive prowess is world-class, he brings an endless work rate and tremendous assurance to any back line that he is part of.
Jacques Burger has dived straight back into Aviva Premiership life in his usual fearless manner. Jacques’ physicality is second to none in the competition and with the highly experienced Tom Wood part of Saints’ powerful back row he’ll have plenty to get to grips with at Franklin’s Gardens.
Ones to Watch – Northampton Saints
Injury struck at a very cruel time for Ben Foden in terms of his International aspirations however he took it on the chin and worked hard to be fully fit ahead of the new the domestic season. Ben is a naturally gifted attacking full back and reads the game superbly courtesy of his 167 domestic appearances.
This outing will be George North’s first appearance for the Northampton Saints this season after picking up a hamstring niggle with Wales. His re-introduction will provide Saints with a huge boost out wide and as we all know that the Welshman has the ability to create something from nothing and is one of the most powerful runners in the Aviva Premiership
After handing over the captaincy reigns to Lee Dickson, Dylan Hartley has quietly gone about his business in the front row this season. Saints’ hooker has a great deal of experience behind him, is a solid scrummager and of course he has a touch of history with Saracens so all in all it should make for an intriguing mach.
- 150 – Saracens caps for Schalk Brits, he joined the club in 2009
- 88 – Jamie George’s throwing accuracy percentage for the 2014/15 Aviva Premiership Season
- 19 – the number of points Owen Farrell scored in the last meeting with the Northampton Saints at Franklin’s Gardens
- 6 – number of table positions between Saracens and Northampton Saints going into this Aviva Premiership Round 4 match
15 Alex Goode; 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Duncan Taylor, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 Chris Wyles; 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Richard Wigglesworth; 1 Mako Vunipola, 2 Schalk Brits, 3 Petrus Du Plessis; 4 George Kruis, 5 Alistair Hargreaves ©, 6 Maro Itoje, 7 Jacques Burger, 8 Billy Vunipola.
16 Jamie George, 17 Richard Barrington, 18 Juan Figallo, 19 Michael Rhodes, 20 Kelly Brown, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Charlie Hodgson, 23 Marcelo Bosch.
15 Ben FODEN; 14 Jamie ELLIOTT, 13 George PISI, 12 Luther BURRELL, 11 George NORTH; 10 Stephen MYLER, 9 Kahn FOTUALI’I; 1 Alex WALLER, 2 Dylan HARTLEY, 3 Kieran BROOKES; 4 James CRAIG, 5 Christian DAY; 6 Jamie GIBSON, 7 Tom WOOD ©, 8 Sam DICKINSON.
16 Mikey HAYWOOD, 17 Ethan WALLER, 18 Paul HILL, 19 Michael PATERSON, 20 Teimana HARRISON, 21 Lee DICKSON, 22 JJ HANRAHAN, 23 Ahsee TUALA.