Northampton Saints v Harlequins: Tom Vickers' match preview

Saints supporters saw their side make it three wins in a row at the Madejski Stadium last weekend (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
Saints supporters saw their side make it three wins in a row at the Madejski Stadium last weekend (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

Fixture: Northampton Saints v Harlequins

Competition: Aviva Premiership - round five

Venue: Franklin's Gardens, Northampton

Date: Saturday, September 30, 2017

Kick-off time: 3pm

Television coverage: None

Saints: Tuala; North, Horne, Burrell, Collins; Mallinder, Groom; Waller, Haywood, Brookes; Paterson, Ribbans; Lawes (c), Gibson, Harrison.
Replacements: Marshall, van Wyk, Ford-Robinson, Ratuniyarawa, Dickinson, Reinach, Myler, Foden.

Harlequins: Morris; Yarde, Marchant, Roberts, Visser; Smith, Care; Lambert, Ward (c), Sinckler; Merrick, Matthews; Glynn, Clifford, Luamanu.
Replacements: Elia Elia, Boyce, Collier, Lamb, White, Lewis, Swiel, Alofa Alofa.

Outs: Saints: Mitch Eadie (ankle), Tom Wood (shoulder)

Referee: Luke Pearce

Most recent meeting: Saturday, May 6, 2017: Saints 22 Harlequins 20 (Aviva Premiership)

Tom's preview: Momentum, momentum, momentum.

That is what the past three matches have provided for Saints.

And if Jim Mallinder's men can maintain it during the next two weeks, a good start to the season will become a very strong one indeed.

After Saturday's home game against Harlequins and a trip to Gloucester seven days later, Saints will head into Europe.

And they will need all of their confidence and cunning if they are to mastermind victories against Saracens and Clermont Auvergne.

Last year's Champions Cup finalists will be teak-tough opposition for Saints in the opening two weeks of Europe's top tier competition.

But that is what Saints won in the play-offs for last season - to test themselves against the best.

And how vital it is that they go into those matches in the best possible shape.

Not only that, Saints would love to be sitting pretty in the Aviva Premiership after six games.

In the past two seasons, that was definitely not the case as they got off to slow starts and immediately placed themselves behind the eight ball.

Saints were always chasing their tails, failing to get up the kind of head of steam they had when winning the title in 2014 and finishing top of the regular-season table for the first time a year later.

They recognise things won't be easy against Quins and Gloucester teams who, on their day, can beat anyone.

But they know they have every right to be bullish for those battles, both of which should provide plenty of entertainment.

Saints have produced three stylish performances this season, scoring some eye-catching tries along the way.

And neither Quins nor Gloucester are backwards in coming forward, either.

The men from The Stoop were involved in a thrilling game against Leicester last Saturday, eventually falling to defeat.

Quins have been predictably unpredictable so far, beating Gloucester and Wasps but losing to London Irish and Tigers.

They pushed Saints all the way in the meeting between the teams at Franklin's Gardens on the final day of the regular season back in May.

And Jim Mallinder's men need no reminding of their threats.

But Saints have won eight of their past nine matches against Quins, showing they can deal with the swagger of the south-west London side.

How those of a Northampton persuasion would love another win this weekend.

And how important that could prove ahead of a big October for Saints.

Tom's prediction: Saints 28 Harlequins 21