Northampton Saints v Saracens: Big match preview for the game at the Gardens

Fixture: Northampton Saints v Saracens
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Competition: Gallagher Premiership (round 14)

Venue: cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens, Northampton

Date and kick-off time: Friday, March 29, 2024, 7.45pm

Tommy Freeman in action against Saracens in December (photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)Tommy Freeman in action against Saracens in December (photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
Tommy Freeman in action against Saracens in December (photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Weather forecast: 8c, clear

Live television coverage: TNT Sports

Referee: Luke Pearce

Assistant referees: Joe James and Andrew Jackson

No.4: James Clarke

TMO: Ian Tempest

Saints: Ramm; Freeman, Odendaal, Dingwall; Sleightholme, F Smith, James; Iyogun, Langdon, Davison; Moon, Coles; Lawes (c), Pearson, Augustus.

Replacements: S Matavesi, A Waller, Prowse, Mayanavanua, Ludlam, Graham, McParland, Litchfield.

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Saracens: Daly; Maitland, Cinti, Tompkins, Lewington; Farrell (c), van Zyl; M Vunipola, George, Riccioni; McFarland, Isiekwe; Gonzalez, Christie, B Vunipola.

Replacements: Dan, Mawi, Judge, Tizard, Willis, Earl, Simpson, Goode.

Not considered for Saints selection: Callum Braley, George Furbank, Paul Hill, Rory Hutchinson, Elliot Millar Mills, Alex Mitchell.

Most recent meeting: Saturday, December 2, 2023: Saracens 12 Saints 18 (Gallagher Premiership)

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Saints director of rugby Phil Dowson: “There's not that many games left so we're going to try to enjoy them and make sure we make the most of the opportunity we've created. We're excited about being at home and I imagine it will be a pretty lively atmosphere. They're on the back of a big win, we're on the back of a fairly humbling loss so we need to see a reaction. We always need the home fans, always need to make it a really good atmosphere. We love playing here. We train here, we eat here, we have all our meetings here so this is well and truly our home. For the fans to come and pack it out has a huge impact on our performance."

Saracens head coach Joe Shaw: “In the break we were working really hard to try and be more us. That (the 52-7 win against Harlequins last weekend) was the most complete 80 minutes we’ve had so far this season but it’s on to the next thing now. We will look to build on that performance for the rest of the season. We’ll continue to take it a week at a time and all our focus has been on Northampton.”

Opposition dangerman: Saracens have quality across the board, but, at times, Theo McFarland makes it seem like Mark McCall’s men have an extra player on the pitch due to his incredible athleticism. The lock is a threat in all areas and is capable of grabbing a game by the scruff of the neck.

Tom Vickers’ prediction: This is a tough one to call, but Saracens seem to have the momentum after hitting the ground running on the return to action last weekend. If they get ahead early on at the Gardens, they will be tough to beat. Saints 20 Saracens 23.