Tom Vickers’ Wasps v Saints preview: Wasps have to be swatted at Adams Park

EASY GOING - James Wilson was named man of the match as Saints cruised past Wasps at Franklin's Gardens last year, but he and his team-mates can expect a tougher game at Adams Park on Saturday (Picture: Linda Dawson)
EASY GOING - James Wilson was named man of the match as Saints cruised past Wasps at Franklin's Gardens last year, but he and his team-mates can expect a tougher game at Adams Park on Saturday (Picture: Linda Dawson)

Saints may have won their past seven games against Wasps – but none of those meetings have been as important as the one in prospect at Adams Park this Saturday.

Northampton stand at a tipping point.

Win, and they move at least six points clear of Wasps in the race for the Premiership play-offs.

Lose, and Dai Young’s men could be back above them on Saturday night, knowing they hold the upper hand.

Then there’s Gloucester to throw into the mix. You would expect the Cherry and Whites to beat London Welsh on Saturday, meaning the pressure would be firmly on with four games to go.

Yes, Saints could lose to Wasps and still make the play-offs.

But they will not want to take that risk, with a home game against Leicester to contend with seven days later, and a final-day clash at Harlequins on the horizon.

They will not want to need to win those games, bearing in mind they haven’t beaten a member of the current Premiership top three in their past nine games against them.

Of course, if they make the end-of-season shootout they will have to square up to those sides, but not getting the chance to do so would mean the season had been a failure.

Saints fans crave a top four spot.

They expect success, such is the nature of the winning habit Jim Mallinder has instilled in the club since taking over in 2007.

And the director of rugby will be hoping tradition continues this weekend, against a Wasps outfit who showed little buzz in their 24-6 defeat at the Gardens back in September.

They will, of course, be a much different proposition on their own turf, with the scent of a top four spot in their nostrils.

But Saints have been to tough places and won this season.

Think Belfast. Think Gloucester. Think Bath.

Now they need to maintain their wonderful record against Wasps.