Tom Vickers’ Leinster v Northampton Saints preview

If the past 12 months has taught us anything it is that Saints are a team who can recover from a setback.

KEY MOMENT - Tommy Bowe was sent flying by a crucial Jamie Elliott tap-tackle as Saints won in Ulster last December
KEY MOMENT - Tommy Bowe was sent flying by a crucial Jamie Elliott tap-tackle as Saints won in Ulster last December

In fact, they have almost become recovery specialists, bouncing back from the most painful of defeats in the most commendable style.

Ulster, Gloucester and Leicester have all produced performances that have had the Franklin’s Gardens faithful rushing for the exits.

But, on each occasion, Saints have shown it’s not how you fall, it’s how you get up that counts.

After the defeat to Ulster last December, Jim Mallinder’s men marched to Ravenhill eight days later with little belief to thrive on other than their own.

No one gave them a hope of storming the Ravenhill fortress, which had not been breached for four years.

But breach it they did, gritting their teeth to claim a memorable 10-9 win that warmed the heart on a freezing Belfast night.

That looked to set Saints on their way, but more struggles were to come.

Gloucester came to the Gardens in February and claimed a 27-11 win against an insipid Saints side.

But, a week later, Northampton were back on the horse, beating a Worcester team far stronger than the current Sixways outfit.

Surely now there’d be no more of those agonising moments?

Wrong. Leicester Tigers inflicted the worst defeat of them all, roaring to a 36-8 success at the Gardens in March.

That really hurt.

But, back came Saints, avoiding a banana skin at London Welsh in their next fixture to enhance their Premiership title bid.

That ambition was fuelled by the ‘Why not us?’ attitude, a strong siege mentality that carried Saints to a stunning win at Saracens in the play-off semi-final.

Again, no one had given them a chance. But again they upset the odds,

Quite simply, this Northampton squad is one which is at its best with its back to the wall.

Mallinder’s men have lost just three times on the road in 2013. They love ruining home records.

On Saturday, they will face their toughest test, against a Leinster side smelling more English blood after last weekend’s Gardens rout.

The Irish side will be backed by more than 40,000 fans at the Aviva Stadium.

But that cauldron of noise will be music to the ears of Saints.

They relish heading into the ring with no one behind them.

And they are more than capable of landing a powerful counterpunch this weekend.