Aviva Premiership: Harlequins v Northampton Preview


Harlequins and Northampton lock horns at Twickenham on Saturday the 30th of December.

Twickenham will this Saturday play host to a proverbial basement battle when the ninth-placed Harlequins entertain the 10th-placed Northampton Saints. The fact that the hosts come into this one having lost their last three matches in succession and the struggling 'Saints being without a win in their last six in all competitions, makes this weekend’s encounter a pivotal dual for both sides.

Harlequins v Northampton Saints | Saturday 30 December | Twickenham | 18:00

To Win (80 Mins)
Harlequins 4/10 |  Draw 20/1 | Northampton 2/1

On the eve of Chris Robshaw’s 250th Quins appearance, one would have expected a much better performance from the 2011/12 champions than what transpired last week. Their eventual 11-10 defeat at Newcastle was instead a terribly dismal showing and in no way different to what The Stoop faithful have become accustomed to over the last month or so. Director of Rugby John Kingston’s side have lost five of their last six outings, and are in dire need of a confidence boost. With this in mind, Northampton’s visit may have come at just the right time.

Perhaps the only side that has been as poor as the 'Quins of late has been the 'Saints, and a loss against a club currently in transition - following the departure of Jim Mallinder - would be seen as nothing more than an utter disaster.

Harlequins will need the likes of big guns Jamie Roberts, Joe Marler and Renaldo Bothma to get them over the advantage line if they are to gain the ascendency, while more variation on attack would also do them a world of good. They really should claim a bonus-point win here.

One can’t help but feel sorry for the 'Saints after what has been an abysmal campaign to date. For a side with some real quality, to fall in the manner that they have has been dreadful to watch. As I said last week, the fortunes of this side are unlikely to change drastically anytime soon, and interim boss Alan Dickens will require a lot of patience from local supporters as he attempts to dig the once mighty Northampton out of the hole in which they now find themselves.

If they are to claim maximum points anytime soon, this week would perhaps offer them their best bet. Harlequins haven’t been all too flashy this season either, and a win at Twickenham is not entirely out of the question. Managing to halt the likes of Bothma and an ageing Roberts will be key, however, on the basis of their display against the Exeter heavies a week ago, they may just have their work cut out for them once more.

Verdict: Harlequins 4/10
The Saints’ rotten run doesn’t look set to end at Twickenham this week, where the 'Quins should end the losing streak of their own. Northampton will run it close, though.

Written by Shaun Goosen for @Hollywoodbets.net

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