Tom Vickers’ Saints preview: Vital to get off to a Euro flyer

BIG THREAT - Glasgow Warriors' Ruaridh Jackson
BIG THREAT - Glasgow Warriors' Ruaridh Jackson

The Heineken Cup is back – and there’s no room for error as Saints aim to avoid a repeat of last season’s disappointment.

Early defeats to Munster and Scarlets cost Northampton dear last time round as they put themselves in a sticky situation from the start.

Tom Vickers staff photograph

Tom Vickers staff photograph

The Munster madness, which saw Ronan O’Gara slot an injury-time drop goal after a ridiculous 41 phases, left Saints shell-shocked.

And if that defeat left Saints on the ropes looking groggy, what happened at Franklin’s Gardens six days later proved to be the knockout blow.

Scarlets stunned the home faithful, claiming a 28-23 win which sounded the death knell on Saints’ chances of qualifying for the last eight.

All of the talk at the Gardens this week has been about ensuring there are no similar slip-ups at this year.

Whoever wins pool 4 will no doubt have a blemish-free home record, with last season’s runners-up Ulster hotly-tipped to hit the summit and stay there.

So Saints can’t afford to switch off against Glasgow on Sunday. The Scots possess plenty of firepower, with Stuart Hogg and Ruaridh Jackson big threats.

But every side in the competition will be dangerous, it’s just how you deal with it and how you hit them using your own strengths.

Last weekend didn’t showcase the best of Saints as they were easily beaten by London Irish.

And there is simply no way they can put in that sort of error-strewn display this weekend if they harbour any realistic hopes of doing anything special in the Heineken Cup this season.

Let the European entertainment begin.