Gloucester v Northampton Saints: Tom Vickers' big match preview

Fixture: Gloucester v Northampton Saints

Louis Picamoles was in action the last time Saints won at Gloucester, back in January 2017
Louis Picamoles was in action the last time Saints won at Gloucester, back in January 2017

Competition: Gallagher Premiership (round seven)

Venue: Kingsholm, Gloucester

Date and kick-off time: Saturday, January 30, 2021

Weather: 4c, cloudy

Live television coverage: BT Sport 2

Referee: Karl Dickson

Gloucester: Woodward; Carreras, Twelvetrees, Atkinson, Thorley; Evans, Heinz; Rapava-Ruskin, Walker, Balmain; Garvey, Alemanno; Reid, Ludlow (c), Ackermann.

Replacements: Gleave, Ford-Robinson, Knight, Craig, Gibson, Chapman, Seabrook, Moyle.

Saints: Furbank; Proctor, Hutchinson, Francis, Naiyaravoro; Biggar, Mitchell; Waller (cc), Matavesi, Hill; Ribbans, Ratuniyarawa; Isiekwe, Ludlam (cc), Adendorff.

Replacements: Haywood, van Wyk, Painter, Coles, Moon, James, Dingwall, Freeman.

Outs: Saints: Courtney Lawes (international duty),Teimana Harrison (hand), Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi (Achilles), Josh Gillespie (hamstring), Emmanuel Iyogun (ankle), Kayde Sylvester (Achilles)

Most recent meeting: Sunday, October 4, 2020: Gloucester 20 Saints 0 (Gallagher Premiership - Saints forced to forfeit)

Tom's preview: It feels like the Gallagher Premiership season has been on ice for many months for Saints.

In fact, it has been five weeks but, since then, we've moved into a new year.

And the good news for Chris Boyd's side is that they remain unbeaten in 2021.

Okay, they haven't actually played during this calendar year yet.

It has been full of frustration as league games against London Irish and Leicester Tigers were cancelled due to Covid-19 issues.

And then the Champions Cup clashes against Leinster and Bordeaux were also called off as the competition was suspended.

In truth, that wasn't the biggest blow for Saints, who were already on their way out and would have merely been forced to go through the motions.

And there was, of course, the prospect of morale-damaging defeats to those European powerhouses.

So Saints now find themselves finally returning to action this weekend, and they do so on the back of a long-awaited win.

They can carry happy memories of their most recent encounter to Kingsholm, having claimed a richly deserved 29-10 win against Worcester Warriors on Boxing Day.

It snapped a 12-game losing streak and finally put smiles back on Saints faces.

Now they are tasked with ensuring the new year starts as the old one ended.

It won't be an easy task against a Gloucester side who will be fired up as they currently sit bottom of the Premiership standings.

The Cherry and Whites, unlike Saints, haven't been handed any Covid points to boost their position in the table.

They have had to do it all the hard way, racking up just six points so far, leaving them desperately searching for a shot in the arm this Saturday.

And they will fancy their chances against a Saints side who have not won at Kingsholm since January 2017.

These are usually lively encounters between two teams who like to play.

And although both teams will be a bit rusty this weekend, that shouldn't change.

Saints will hope that is also the case when it comes to their upward curve.

The win against Worcester had been coming, and it was finally delivered just a day after Christmas.

Now it's time to do it all again for a Northampton team who must make sure 2021 is much better than 2020.

So strap yourselves in, it's time to get back on the black, green and gold ride.

Tom's prediction: With both teams a bit rusty after having some time away from playing games, it's tough to know how this one will go. But let's keep the faith with Saints and back them to build on that Boxing Day win at Worcester in a lively affair. Gloucester 23 Saints 27.