Tom Vickers’ Northampton Saints v London Irish Preview

It doesn’t matter how they get there, just as long as they get there now they can.

Saturday, 19th April 2014, 5:33 pm
ALWAYS A THREAT - London Irish celebrate scoring a try against Saints earlier in the season (Picture: Linda Dawson)

It may be a slightly strange paraphrasing of an Oleta Adams song, but it sums things up for Saints as they approach the final furlong of the regular season.

By hook or by crook, they must make sure they secure a home semi-final in the Aviva Premiership this season.

They have come too far and overcome too many challenging hurdles to let it go to waste now.

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They simply can’t afford to let the chance of home advantage slip into Leicester’s hands, although the Tigers’ defeat to Harlequins on Friday was a welcome bonus.

And, thankfully for Saints, they can still control their own destiny.

Three games to go and 15 points on offer.

When you take into account the fact they won 11 league games on the spin earlier in the season, it seems simple.

The past few games have muddied the waters slightly, with the four of the last five going the way of the opposition.

But, make no mistake, there is still more than enough calibre and experience in this squad to ensure that is nothing more than a blip or, as George Pisi put it: a bump in the road.

Saints must make light work of London Irish this weekend, though.

The visitors are a team shorn of key men through injury, with Australia star James O’Connor and wing Topsy Ojo in the club’s casualty department.

Brian Smith’s men have little to play for and, while that could mean they cut loose, Saints should have more stomach for the fight.

That is what they will need to show in abundance during the next few weeks, with an Amlin Challenge Cup semi-final also on the horizon.

That, though, remains an added extra.

A bonus that would mean a lot, but is not essential.

The Premiership remains the be-all and end-all, and Saints know it.

There have been whispers of the ‘Why not us?’ mentality circulating the club this week, but the club has come too far to bring back that approach.

They are no longer the plucky underdogs. This weekend, they will be big favourites.

There should be no need to use negatives as an inspiration.

The positive of major silverware is incentive enough.