Tom Vickers’ Glasgow Warriors v Northampton Saints preview

Fixture: Glasgow Warriors v Northampton Saints (Champions Cup Pool 3)

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 21st November 2015, 1:49 pm
Ben Foden and Calum Clark in action during Saints' game at Glasgow in January 2013
Ben Foden and Calum Clark in action during Saints' game at Glasgow in January 2013

Date/kick-off time: Saturday, November 21, 5.15pm

Weather forecast: 1C, clear

Referee: Jerome Garces (France)

Glasgow: Hogg; Seymour, Bennett, Horne, Lamont; Russell, Blair; Grant, MacArthur, Puafisi; Nakarawa, Gray (c); Harley, Favaro, Strauss.

Replacements: Mamukashvili, Reid, Fagerson, Swinson, Wilson, Hart, Vernon, Naiyaravoro.

Saints: Foden; Tuala, G Pisi, Burrell, North; Myler, Dickson (c); A Waller, Haywood, Brookes; Paterson, Day; Gibson, Wood, Dickinson.

Replacements: Williams, E Waller, Hill, Fisher, Harrison, Fotuali’i, Hanrahan, Elliott.

Outs: Saints: Wilson (arm), Clark (shoulder), Lawes (knee), Matfield (away), Hartley (concussion), Corbisiero.

Most recent meeting: Sunday, January 20: Glasgow Warriors 27 Saints 20 (Heineken Cup)

Tom’s preview: The last time Saints headed to Glasgow, ambition and belief were the buzzwords.

Back in January 2013, Jim Mallinder’s men headed north in search of a bonus-point win that would keep their Heineken Cup hopes alive.

Favourites to win, they put themselves in a position to do just that, and to secure the four tries they so desperately wanted.

But, a late indisgression from Alex Waller was to cost them dear and Glasgow, who had long since seen their hopes of making the last eight ended, snatched victory through a dazzling Peter Horne try.

Saints had been made to pay for their all-out attack policy with Ryan Lamb desperately trying to create something at Scotstoun Stadium.

But in the end, the creativity and strength Saints showed counted for nothing, aside from the scant consolation of a losing bonus point.

They hadn’t taken their chance to seize maximum points when it came, and they were left with a hollow feeling.

And this weekend, they will know that a failure to grab every opportunity will probably cost them dear again.

It won’t cost them their European lives, as it is only the second round of the Champions Cup, and Saints currently sit top of Pool 3 after their win against Scarlets last Saturday.

But it would be a blow should Mallinder’s men not come home with something from a Glasgow side who are real contenders to emerge from the pack.

Gregor Townsend’s team claimed Guinness Pro12 glory last season and boast a number of talented players, especially in the backline, where the likes of Stuart Hogg and Finn Russell reside.

In the pack, Leone Nakarawa is a beast with a beautiful offloading ability and in Townsend they possess a shrewd coach who Saints fans know all about.

Of course, Saints have plenty of strengths of their own.

And they can afford to keep composed this time rather than rushing towards the opposition tryline with relentless abandon, as they did nearly two years ago.

But again ambition and belief will be key.

Mallinder has already spoken about his team ensuring that they do not simply rely on their pack this weekend.

He wants a big display from the backs, with the likes of George North and Luther Burrell tasked with showing what they are made of on the big stage once again.

They will have to have the courage to take the game to Glasgow, but if they can, and the forwards perform how they did last weekend, Saints stand a real chance.

If they don’t and opportunities are not created and taken, then the Warriors will again be celebrating a Scotstoun win against Saints.

Tom’s prediction: Glasgow 22 Saints 14