Northampton Saints v Leicester Tigers: Tom Vickers' big match preview

Teimana Harrison will skipper Saints for the first time against Tigers
Teimana Harrison will skipper Saints for the first time against Tigers

Fixture: Northampton Saints v Leicester Tigers

Competition: Premiership Rugby Cup (pool stages - game four)

Venue: Franklin's Gardens, Northampton

Date and kick-off time: Saturday, January 26, 2019, 3pm

Television coverage: None

Referee: Adam Leal

Saints: Furbank; Pisi, Tuitavake, Hutchinson, Collins; Grayson, Reinach; van Wyk, Fish, Franks; Ratuniyarawa, Barrow; Gibson, Brüssow, Harrison.
Replacements: Marshall, Davis, Painter, Moon, Haskell, Davies,Tuala, Kellaway.

Leicester Tigers: Olowofela, Sarto, Aspland-Robinson, Hardwick, Varndell, J Ford, White; Gigena, McMillan, Heyes; Lewis, Wells (c); Reffell, Evans, Tuilagi.
Replacements: Mahohey, Ma’afu, Feao, Jordan, Gough, Law, Wilson, Steward.

Outs: Saints: Andy Symons (knee), Harry Mallinder (knee), Tom Emery (shoulder), Mikey Haywood (knee), Dylan Hartley (knee), Piers Francis (shoulder).

Most recent meeting: Saturday, October 6, 2018: Saints 15 Leicester 23 (Gallagher Premiership)

Tom's preview: Premiership points may not be on the line at the Gardens this weekend, but the significance of a Saints-Tigers showdown can never be understated.

With bragging rights and, for Saints, a Premiership Rugby Cup semi-final place, up for grabs, there will be no shortage of blood and thunder this weekend.

And with both sides likely to possess a plethora of players who have come through the ranks at their club, the levels of passion and pride will remain as high as ever.

Leicester have made a habit of winning trophies over the years, but they won't be winning this one.

Saints, meanwhile, have a few bits of silverware of their own to boast, but, like Tigers, they have endured a drought in recent years.

And how they would love to win their first pot under Chris Boyd this season, with hopes still alive on three fronts.

Okay, their chances in the Premiership and Challenge Cup, in which they must travel to Clermont Auvergne in the quarter-finals, look slim, but they have a big chance in the Premiership Rugby Cup.

They are in pole position in Pool C and if they can secure a bonus-point success against their familiar foes on Saturday, they could just sneak a home semi-final.

Even if they don't, they will still fancy their chances of progressing from a final-four tie that will be played on the second weekend of February.

And that encounter could also help them in the Premiership.

Because if they lose to Leicester, they are looking at two weekends shorn of matches, with next weekend free and the following one reserved for the cup semi-final.

That could leave them a little undercooked for the league clash with Sale Sharks on February 16.

So not only do they want to keep hopes of a trophy alive, they also want to ensure they maintain some momentum going back into the Premiership.

Add the local bragging rights to that, and it is easy to see why Saints will take Saturday's game extremely seriously.

Over the years it has not been often that they have outlasted Leicester in a competition, but if Saints get the win they want on Saturday, that will certainly be the case.

And, more importantly, it will take this new-look playing and coaching team closer to their first trophy together.

Tom's prediction: Saints 27 Leicester 17