Tom Vickers’ view: Saints will want a Madejski grind

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Saints head to London Irish this weekend sitting pretty at the top of the Aviva Premiership.

But it’s unlikely to be an attractive game of rugby at the Madejski Stadium if Jim Mallinder’s men get their way.

IN IT TOGETHER - Saints travel to London Irish in search of their sixth straight Premiership win (Picture: Linda Dawson)

IN IT TOGETHER - Saints travel to London Irish in search of their sixth straight Premiership win (Picture: Linda Dawson)

While an expansive game may suit Irish, whose strength lies in the back division, Saints will again use target the forward area as one which they can win, and win well.

While the likes of James Wilson, Ken Pisi and Luther Burrell offer plenty going forward, the pack remains the place where Saints pack most of a punch.

And against an Irish side who have failed to show their strength this season, winning once in a fairly open encounter against Bath, that looks like the best point of attack.

Brian Smith’s team have got talent in their backline, with the likes of Jonathan Joseph and Sailosi Tagicakibau providing plenty of go-forward.

Tom Vickers staff photograph

Tom Vickers staff photograph

But they’re not as comfortable when asked to grit their teeth and win a clash in the set piece and Saints will know they’re there for the taking.

It certainly won’t be as easy a game as the table might suggest – there is an 18 point gap between the sides already – but if Northampton front up they will get maintain their 100 per cent record.

The game provides a big chance for young Mike Haywood, who replaces skipper Dylan Hartley at hooker, to show his worth.

And if he and the men alongside him in the Saints pack can have their now trademark big impact, it will be another big victory for Mallinder’s in-form team.