Tom Vickers’ Saracens v Northampton Saints preview

WINNING STREAK - Saints celebrate one of George Pisi's three tries in the most recent success against Saracens (Picture: Linda Dawson)
WINNING STREAK - Saints celebrate one of George Pisi's three tries in the most recent success against Saracens (Picture: Linda Dawson)

Saints’ last venture into Aviva Premiership action came against a side they just can’t seem to beat, but this weekend it is Jim Mallinder’s men who hold the mental edge.

Saracens have lost their past four games against the green, black and gold – and have been well beaten in three of those.

They will be desperate to buck that alarming trend on Sunday at Allianz Park, the ground where the streak began.

Saints, who were huge underdogs having finished fourth in the regular season, rocked up and routed the side who had deservedly finished top of the shop.

And from then on the switch in mentality was clear as a Saracens team who had won the three meetings previous to that found themselves on the back foot.

They were thrashed at Franklin’s Gardens in the Premiership in October and were also on the end of heavy defeats in the LV= Cup, in February and March.

They will be desperate to set the record straight on Sunday, while Saints, who suffered defeat in their most recent league game, against arch rivals Leicester, need a win to keep pace at the top.

The Tigers, who have not lost to Northampton in 10 games, held the upper hand in terms of psychology and Saints have a similar advantage over Saracens.

It is not all about the mental side of the game - Saints have beaten Sarries up physically in recent matches – but it clearly has a part to play.

Belief is half the battle in sport and with the ability Mallinder’s side possess they can beat anyone on their day.

They need this to bring their A game this weekend because overhauling Sarries at the top of table could be the key to avoiding a semi-final against Leicester.

And it should also be remembered that only seven points now stand between second-placed Saints and third-placed Tigers.

A home semi-final is the minimum requirement and should it not be achieved, it would be a real hammer blow.

Saints have given themselves ample time to prepare for Sunday, resting men who needed a breather and jetting the players off to Lanzarote for a warm weather break.

That should mean the batteries are well and truly recharged as they pursue another big Barnet victory.

Meanwhile, Saracens go into this match still trying to shake the bruises of last weekend’s Heineken Cup battle in Belfast out of their system.

It promises to be an intriguing affair, with two powerhouse teams going head to head.

Sarries have called on the big guns, with the Vunipola brothers and heavyweight tighthead prop James Johnston set to pack a serious punch.

But Saints have plenty of heavy artillery of their own, with Samu Manoa and Courtney Lawes among the men to return to their starting 15.

There should be plenty of shockwaves sent through north London this Sunday and Saints will hope it is they who one again make the biggest rumble.