Northampton Saints v Worcester Warriors: Tom Vickers' big match preview

Fixture: Northampton Saints v Worcester Warriors

By Tom Vickers
Thursday, 24th December 2020, 12:17 pm
Updated Thursday, 24th December 2020, 12:20 pm
Francois van Wyk scored when Saints beat Benetton at Franklin's Gardens back in January
Francois van Wyk scored when Saints beat Benetton at Franklin's Gardens back in January

Competition: Gallagher Premiership (round four)

Venue: Franklin's Gardens, Northampton

Date and kick-off time: Saturday, December 26, 2020, 4.30pm

Weather: 8c, light rain

Live television coverage: BT Sport 2

Referee: Christophe Ridley

Saints: Furbank; Proctor, Dingwall, Hutchinson, Tuala; Biggar, Mitchell; Waller (cc), Matavesi, Hill; Ribbans, Isiekwe; Lawes, Ludlam (cc), Harrison.

Replacements: Haywood, van Wyk, Franks, Moon, Adendorff, James, Collins, Naiyaravoro.

Worcester Warriors: Nanai; Humphreys, Lawrence, Beck, David; Searle, Hougaard; Waller, Annett, Schonert; Clegg, A Kitchener; Hill (c), Kvesic, Mama.

Replacements: Cutting, Thomas, Palframan, Batley, du Preez, Simpson, Weir, O Morris.

Outs: Saints: Harry Mallinder, Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi (Achilles), Samson Ma’asi (illness), Ollie Sleightholme (ankle), and Kayde Sylvester (Achilles).

Most recent meeting: Friday, March 6, 2020: Worcester Warriors 10 Saints 16 (Gallagher Premiership)

Tom's preview: If you'd said on January 12 that Saints would not win again at home in 2020 going into their final game of the year, you'd have been laughed out of town.

Chris Boyd's side had just beaten Benetton 33-20 at a jubilant Franklin's Gardens as the hosts continued to march on in two competitions.

They would go to Lyon and grab a memorable win on the following weekend, earning a Champions Cup quarter-final in the process and everything looked rosy in the Gardens.

But here we are, 11 months later, with Saints having endured a horror run at home and, largely, away, too.

They have lost their past 12 matches in all competitions, are on a nine-match losing streak at home and have lost 17 of the past 19 games they have played.

There's no sugarcoating it, since winning their first three matches of 2020, Saints have had a horrible year.

Covid-19 has wreaked havoc on all of our lives and it has hit the men in black, green and gold hard.

But now they have one final chance to put a smile on the faces of their fans this weekend.

Worcester Warriors provide the opposition and they may seem like a good side for Saints to face, given they have lost four of their five games this season.

They are only two points above bottom side Saints in the Premiership, with the Warriors' edgy opening-day win against London Irish giving them at least a little joy so far.

But Worcester showed they can be a threat when winning at the Gardens in pre-season, a game that Saints never led during the entirety of the 120 minutes.

And the away side will travel with real belief.

But Saints have been much better in recent weeks.

They should have beaten Bristol and Bordeaux before pushing Leinster in Dublin last weekend.

They have so often talked of positives after defeats but now it's time for points. Only four or five will do.

It would give them the lift they desperately need going into games against London Irish and Leicester Tigers.

And it would finally put that long losing streak at home, and at all venues, to bed.

No fans will be able to witness it as Northamptonshire is now a Tier 3 area, denying supporters entry into the Gardens on Boxing Day.

But they won't feel quite so bad if their side do the business this weekend.

Merry Christmas to all.

Tom's prediction: Saints have got plenty of firepower available this weekend and they really should have enough quality to beat Worcester. Whether the belief is there to get over the line in the closing stages, it remains to be seen, but there have been signs that a win is coming, and it really should be on Boxing Day. Saints 30 Worcester Warriors 18.