Gloucester v Northampton Saints: Tom Vickers' big match preview

Fixture: Gloucester v Northampton Saints

By Tom Vickers
Friday, 4th March 2022, 12:38 pm
Rory Hutchinson and Co beat Gloucester on the opening day of the Gallagher Premiership season
Rory Hutchinson and Co beat Gloucester on the opening day of the Gallagher Premiership season

Competition: Gallagher Premiership

Venue: Kingsholm, Gloucester

Date and kick-off time: Saturday, March 5, 2022, 3pm

Weather forecast: 8c, mostly cloudy

Live television coverage: PRTV LiveReferee: Ian Tempest

Gloucester: Moyle; Carreras, Seabrook, Twelvetrees, Thorley; Hastings, Meehan; Elrington, Socino, Balmain; Clarke, Alemanno; Reid, Clement, Ackermann (c).

Replacements: Walker, Rapava-Ruskin, Ford-Robinson, Davidson, Craig, Chapman, Barton, Rees-Zammit.

Saints: Hutchinson; Skosan, Proctor, Dingwall, Collins; Biggar, Mitchell; Iyogun, Matavesi, Painter; Ribbans, Ratuniyarawa; Coles, Harrison, Augustus.

Replacements: Haywood, Auterac, Hill, Nansen, Wilkins, James, Grayson, Francis.

Not considered for Saints selection: Matthew Arden, Emeka Atuanya, Tommy Freeman, Jake Garside, Oisín Heffernan, Tom Lockett, Lewis Ludlam, Taqele Naiyaravoro, Kayde Sylvester, Alex Waller, Tom Wood.

International duty: George Furbank, Courtney Lawes.

Most recent meeting: Saturday, September 18, 2021: Saints 34 Gloucester 30 (Gallagher Premiership)

Tom's preview: This Saturday, Saints will take another step towards the last chance saloon.

Kingsholm is the next stop on a journey that has taken a turn for the worse in recent weeks.

Chris Boyd's side have gone from having the chance to move into the Gallagher Premiership top four, to staring up at several sides who now sit above them.

Saints head to Gloucester sitting ninth in the standings.

And although they have a game in hand on many of the teams above them and sit just eight points off fourth, there is no doubt that they are now moving into must-win territory.

In fact, given how many sides are in the play-off picture, it seems fair to say that they have to prevail this weekend.

Because if the three-match losing streak becomes four, it seems like there will be too much ground to make up.

Especially as a win would lift sixth-placed Gloucester even further ahead of Saints.

Every week it feels like a victory counts double as the black, green and gold battle teams in and around them.

But if they are not careful, they will soon start slipping closer to 10th than fourth.

And that would see their league season peter out in sad fashion.

It's not supposed to be like that.

At the start of 2022, there was talk of giving boss Chris Boyd the perfect send-off by picking up the Premiership trophy.

And after bonus-point wins at Newcastle Falcons and Worcester Warriors, it seemed Saints could keep themselves in the hunt to achieve their aims.

But losses to Leicester, Sale and Exeter have put a spanner in the works.

Saints should have seen off the Sharks and the Chiefs, but the lack of a killer instinct late on cost them dear.

They lost both games in the final couple of minutes and the heartache was felt all around cinch Stadium at Franklin's Gardens.

Saints now face a trip to Gloucester followed by a home game against Wasps.

Win both matches and suddenly things look a lot rosier at the Gardens.

Lose one or both and the questions that have been asked for some time will grow louder.

Saints have to show they have the substance to stay in the title race.

We know they have the style, but can they ally that with steel and composure, especially late on in games.

That is still to be shown.

And if Saints don't do it this weekend, then destination Twickenham will be a more than distant dream.

Tom's prediction: Gloucester have really developed under George Skivington, and they now have the backs and the pack to do the damage. This might be too big an ask for a Saints side without a full-time full-back once again. Gloucester 27 Saints 18.