Tom Vickers’ Harlequins preview: Saints have to build on Ulster win

BIG WIN - Saints saw off Ulster last weekend, but now they have to see off Premiership champions Harlequins
BIG WIN - Saints saw off Ulster last weekend, but now they have to see off Premiership champions Harlequins

There are five words I don’t want to be writing come 5pm on Saturday evening: After the Lord Mayor’s show.

That would signal Saints have failed to replicate the standards they set in their superb success at Ulster last Saturday.

And it would mean that English champions Harlequins, the opponents at Franklin’s Gardens, had moved a step further away from Jim Mallinder’s men in the title race.

Okay, so Quins are no mugs. They are one of the better teams in Europe right now and are a tricky proposition at the best of times.

But Saints, with the wind at their backs following that morale-boosting win in Belfast, will be desperate to taste victory on their own turf.

They know they weren’t good enough in front of their own fans, when Ulster came to town, and won 25-6 a couple of weeks ago.

They atoned for that by slaying the Irishmen at Ravenhill, but now they need to step up to the plate in the Premiership.

Because if they don’t, they could be in a precarious position after the next three games.

Following the Quins clash, Saints must take on Saracens at Milton Keynes (in the Fezheads’ home game) and take on the spiky Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park.

It’s not a fixture list to fill you with festive cheer, but if Northampton can claim a couple of victories from those games, they have real reason to be optimistic about what 2013 may hold.