Tom Vickers’ Worcester Warriors v Northampton Saints preview

Less banana skin, more oil slick. That’s what awaits Saints in a potentially slippery encounter at Sixways this weekend.

By Tom Vickers
Friday, 29th November 2013, 11:30 am
TOUGH GOING - Saints were made to battle all the way for their win over Newcastle last weekend (Picture: Linda Dawson)
TOUGH GOING - Saints were made to battle all the way for their win over Newcastle last weekend (Picture: Linda Dawson)

Standing in the way of a seventh successive win are a Worcester Warriors side who can only dream of that kind of form.

The Warriors have won just one of their 12 games in all competitions this season, losing all eight fixtures in the Aviva Premiership.

Dean Ryan’s men languish at the foot of the table, with just two points to their name, and it would take the bravest of pundits to predict them getting anything against Northampton.

In fact when asked whether a Warriors win this weekend would be the biggest shock in the history of the Premiership, one Worcester watcher suggested it would be the biggest in the history of sport.

That’s the scale of belief at Sixways right now, but Saints will know they can ill afford to take anything for granted.

There’s almost a cup feel about the fixture as underdogs Worcester aim to cause an upset against a well-fancied side.

They’ve lost plenty of big ties already this season and another defeat, to the league’s second-placed side, would be nothing more than expected.

But it’s a dangerous game for Saints.

It’s wrong to say it’s a no-win situation.

They can win, and could pick up as many of five points from it.

But no one is expecting them to lose. And if they do, it would be a long trip back to Northampton on Saturday evening.

It would leave them needing to pick themselves up very quickly ahead of a huge Heineken Cup double-header against Leinster, the first game of which comes a week later.

Therefore, defeat is simply not an option for Jim Mallinder’s men.

And last weekend’s dogged display by Newcastle at Franklin’s Gardens should act as the perfect preparation.

The Falcons fought for every ball, making the breakdown a mess, and they walked away with their heads held high.

That will be the minimum requirement for a Worcester team who have shipped 224 points in eight league games this season.

If you don’t do maths, that’s an average of 28 points per game.

In contrast, Northampton have conceded just 110 points, scoring 205 on their way to winning six of their eight league encounters so far this season.

It’s not just the stats that don’t lie, but Saints will know they must put in an honest performance this weekend if they are to avoid a sizeable slip-up.