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

Fixture: Northampton Saints v Worcester Warriors

Thursday, 21st October 2021, 1:17 pm
Updated Thursday, 21st October 2021, 1:18 pm
Ollie Sleightholme scored four times when Saints won at Worcester in March

Competition: Gallagher Premiership

Venue: cinch Stadium at Franklin's Gardens, Northampton

Date and kick-off time: Friday, October 22, 2021, 7.45pm

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Weather forecast: 11c, partly cloudy

Live television coverage: BT Sport 1

Referee: Ian Tempest

Saints: Freeman; Sleightholme, Dingwall, Hutchinson, Skosan; Biggar, Mitchell; Waller, Matavesi, Hill; Ribbans, Ratuniyarawa; Lawes, Ludlam (c), Harrison.

Replacements: Haywood, Iyogun, Painter, Wood, Augustus, Lomani, Francis, Coles.

Worcester Warriors: Shillcock; Doel, Lawrence, Venter, van der Merwe; Smith, Heinz (c); Sutherland, Annett, Judge; A Kitchener, G Kitchener; Hatherell, Lewis, Kvesic.

Replacements: Baldwin, Waller, Owlett, Batley, Vailanu, Chudley, O Morris, Heward.

Not considered for Saints selection: Matthew Arden, Callum Burns, George Furbank, Oisín Heffernan, Dani Long-Martinez, Ollie Newman, Matt Proctor, JJ Tonks.

Most recent meeting: Saturday, March 27, 2021: Worcester Warriors 14 Saints 62 (Gallagher Premiership)

Tom's preview: Saints may possess double Worcester's current Premiership points tally, but it's fair to say neither side will be particularly happy with the season so far.

Because while the Warriors have really struggled, losing four of their five matches, shipping an eye-watering 180 points in the process, Saints are also far from satisfied.

Yes, they may have won three of their four games, but everyone at the club believes there is so much more to come from this group of players.

They have shown the ability to edge over the line, but it felt like some of their good fortunate ran out at Wasps in their most recent encounter almost two weeks ago.

And there is a hunger to really show what Saints are about this week.

They desperately need some momentum that a strong, dominant performance brings.

And with Leicester Tigers, who currently boast a 100 per cent record, looming large on the horizon - Tigers come to the Gardens next weekend - the time is now.

Saints will be eager to shimmer under the Friday night lights against a side who have shown a penchant for conceding a massive amount of points in recent times.

Saints inflicted a huge defeat on Warriors when the teams last met back in March, with Ollie Sleightholme scoring four times in a 62-14 rout.

How the black, green and gold would love something similar this week.

But they know Worcester will not only be playing for points, they will be playing for pride.

A wounded team is always a dangerous one, and the expectation that will be placed on Saints' shoulders could weigh heavy.

It is up to them to relieve that pressure early on and then really put Warriors to the sword.

That is the challenge that lies in wait, and Saints must ensure that the rest they enjoyed last week doesn't leave them in an early slumber on Friday night.

A fast start is crucial as they look to transfer the pressure to Worcester.

And if Saints can do that, they can head into that Tigers tussle at serious speed.

Tom's prediction: Much will be expected of Saints in this match, but pressure does strange things so I'm not sure it will be as comfortable as many anticipate. Either way, I would still fancy Saints to get the job done. Saints 31 Worcester 17.