Tom Vickers’ Newcastle Falcons v Northampton Saints preview

HARD GRAFT - Saints were made to work for their win over Worcester last weekend, and they can expect to have to do so again at Newcastle on Sunday (Picture: Linda Dawson)
HARD GRAFT - Saints were made to work for their win over Worcester last weekend, and they can expect to have to do so again at Newcastle on Sunday (Picture: Linda Dawson)
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Patience is a virtue – and Saints are likely to need to show plenty of it when they head to Kingston Park on Sunday.

They head north to face a Newcastle Falcons team who proved a tough nut to crack in the November meeting between the two sides and who are fighting for their Premiership lives.

Dean Richards’ men are determined not to roll over as they bid to stave off the challenge of a Worcester side who are edging every closer to a first Premiership win of the season.

And, as has been pointed out from the Newcastle end, this weekend’s game represents something of a free hit for the Falcons.

They won’t be expected to get anything against Saints, just as Worcester weren’t last weekend.

But, just as Worcester did, they will look to keep it tight for as long as possible in a bid to pile the pressure on a Saints side expected to make it 10 league wins in a row.

It’s easy to say that Saints should win.

After all, they have done so in 20 of their 24 games in all competitions this season.

But with so many players again away on international duty and a few still out injured, nothing can be taken for granted.

Just ask Saracens, who were shocked by London Irish at Allianz Park a couple of weeks ago.

At the Gardens in November, Newcastle were like a wasp at a picnic, proving really hard to shake off, whizzing around every breakdown.

They limited Saints to just two Stephen Myler penalties before the break, with James Wilson and Luther Burrell going over in the second half to earn an 18-0 win. But it was by no means easy.

Neither was the clash with Worcester last weekend as Dean Ryan’s men clung on to the Northampton coat tails before indiscipline helped the home side cut loose.

Newcastle, like Worcester, also threatened to cause an upset, pushing Harlequins close at The Stoop before two Ben Botica penalties in the final five minutes ended the Richards’ side’s hopes.

That display, like the Warriors’ against Leicester eight days before their trip to the Gardens, will provide real belief.

Newcastle know they can compete with the top four. Now they’ve got to get over the line.

Saints have won the race for points in so many games this season, and should not trip up now.

But they will have to remain calm and composed if they are to avoid an agonising photo finish at Kingston Park this weekend.