Northampton will be vying to keep their slim playoff hopes alive when they host the red-hot Saracens at Franklin’s Gardens on Saturday.Tom Wood's Northampton have it all to play for this Saturday when they entertain the mighty Saracens. The hosts currently sit five points off the semi-finals places and will need a win against Saracens to keep their dreams of making the play-offs alive.
Northampton Saints v Saracens | Saturday 15 April | Franklin's Gardens | 17h00
To Win (80 Mins)
Northampton 29/20 | Draw 18/1 | Saracens 6/10
Tom Wood’s men can rightly feel that they let themselves down last week against the Wasps. Conceding a match-winning try to the log-leaders at the death, after having controlled the game for the majority of the eighty, would definitely have stung – pun intended. The performance off the kicking tee from the usually dependable Stephen Myler left a lot to be desired. His five misses led to a total of eleven points going astray for the visitors and, against a side of Wasps’ quality, those just have to be converted.
This week offers them a shot at redemption – albeit a mighty difficult one – as they welcome the defending champion Saracens to Franklin’s Gardens. 'Sarries have won three on-the-bounce, but the law of averages suggests they are due a loss soon – and Saints’ director of rugby, Jim Mallinder will be assuring his charges that Saturday is that day.
A win will keep Saints’ slender playoff aspirations alive, but to claim one this weekend, they will have to take every chance that comes to them, and close out their game a helluva lot better than they did against Wasps.
Sarries are riding high at the moment. Three wins from three games (including a 38-13 victory over Glasgow in the Champions Cup quarters) has seen their assault on the top two becoming increasingly likely. Last week’s 40-19 demolition of Harlequins at Wembley was a class performance, and something similar should see them hold off this weekend’s hosts with ease.
Chris Ashton’s recent form has been nothing short of spectacular. The Toulon-bound winger bagged two tries last weekend to go with the other two he scored against Glasgow, and must surely be catching the attentions of Warren Gatland and his coaching staff. Love him or hate him, the England-reject is on fire, and another scintillating performance this weekend could very well see his name pop-up when the British and Irish Lions touring party is announced on April the 19th…
Verdict: Saints 29/20
It may not be enough to see them claim a playoff berth, but Saints’ desperation may see them upset 'Sarries on Saturday.