Tom Vickers’ Northampton Saints v Worcester Warriors preview

Saints conceded seven tries in a defeat at Newcastle last Sunday (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
Saints conceded seven tries in a defeat at Newcastle last Sunday (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

Fixture: Northampton Saints v Worcester Warriors (Aviva Premiership - round 16)

Date and kick-off time: Saturday, February 25, 2017 (3pm)

Venue: Franklin’s Gardens, Northampton

Saints: Tuala; K Pisi, Tuitavake, Mallinder, Foden (c); Myler, Groom; A Waller, Haywood, Brookes; Paterson, Day; Gibson, Clark, Harrison. Replacements: Clare, E Waller, Hill, Ratuniyarawa, Dickinson, Dickson, Wilson, Estelles.

Worcester Warriors: Adams; Heem, Olivier, Willison, Humphreys; Mills, Hougaard; Bower, Annett, Schonert; O’Callaghan (c), Spencer; Dowson, Lewis, Poitgieter. Replacements: Bregvadze, Leleimalefaga, Alo, Cavubati, Mama, Baldwin, Lamb, Pennell.

Outs: Saints: JJ Hanrahan (hand), George Pisi (shoulder), Jamie Elliott (shoulder), Luther Burrell (ankle), Dylan Hartley, Courtney Lawes, Tom Wood, Louis Picamoles, George North (international duty)

Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys

Most recent meeting: Friday, November 18, 2016: Worcester Warriors 17 Saints 18 (Aviva Premiership)

Tom’s preview: This weekend’s clash with Worcester Warriors is about more than just points.

It’s about pride, too.

Those wearing the club’s white away shirt last Sunday knew they had not done justice to the badge on it.

The combined reaction as the team trudged out of Kingston Park was one of shock.

Shock that they had let the game slip away from them so badly.

Shock that they had conceded seven tries to a team that started the day below them in the Aviva Premiership standings.

And shock at the fact they fell to eighth in the table with just seven games to go.

Make no mistake, the players were feeling the pain.

And after what is likely to have been a tough week of training, they will be desperate to make amends against Worcester.

And they have to.

With their final three away games so tough - they come at Sale, where Saints do not have a good recent record, Wasps and Exeter Chiefs - Jim Mallinder’s men have to win their home matches.

To be fair, they have been doing just that since losing to Leinster in December.

Sale Sharks, Bristol, Castres and Scarlets have all been beaten at the Gardens since that Champions Cup defeat.

And how Saints need to extend that four-match winning run on home turf for the remainder of the campaign.

They are now two points off the top six ahead of Harlequins’ meeting with Leicester Tigers tonight, and finishing outside of the Champions Cup places would be criminal with the squad Saints possess.

With or without their key internationals, Saints have plenty of talent.

And they have to show their home fans that this weekend because another defeat is unthinkable.

Tom’s prediction: Saints 27 Worcester 18