Northampton Saints v Saracens: Tom Vickers' cup final preview

Saints have not won a trophy since beating Saracens in the 2014 Premiership final
Saints have not won a trophy since beating Saracens in the 2014 Premiership final

Fixture: Northampton Saints v Saracens

Competition: Premiership Rugby Cup (final)

Venue: Franklin's Gardens, Northampton

Date and kick-off time: Sunday, March 17, 2019, 3pm

Television coverage: BT Sport 1

Referee: Ian Tempest

Saints: Furbank; Tuala, Burrell, Francis, Naiyaravoro; Grayson, Mitchell; Waller (c), Marshall, Hill; Moon, Ratuniyarawa; Wood, Ludlam, Harrison.

Replacements: Fish, Van Wyk, Franks, Craig, Gibson, Reinach, Hutchinson, Collins.

Most recent meeting: Saturday, March 2, 2019: Saracens 36 Saints 17 (Gallagher Premiership)

Tom's preview: In what will be a season-defining month, it's fair to say Saints haven't got off to the best of starts.

A comprehensive defeat at Saracens on March 2 was followed seven days later by late heartache at home to Bristol Bears.

And now Saints have to rebuild quickly ahead of three massive matches.

How sweet it would be for them should they see off Saracens this weekend, earning their first win in 10 attempts against the Allianz Park outfit.

It would not only deliver some much-needed silverware to a club starved of it since winning the Premiership and Challenge Cup in 2014, but it would also be a huge morale boost.

That is not to say Saints are lacking belief - under the guidance of new boss Chris Boyd, they have had it by the bucketload - but they certainly need a shot in the arm after back-to-back Gallagher Premiership defeats.

Especially when you consider the two games that follow Sunday's Franklin's Gardens final.

Saints must go to Leicester Tigers in yet another hugely important Premiership encounter - when are east midlands derbies anything but?! - and then Boyd takes his team back to France to face Clermont Auvergne in the Challenge Cup quarter-finals.

These are weeks that will determine how supporters, players and coaches view the campaign under the new regime.

That view has largely been positive so far, but it could be enhanced much further by success on one, two or even three fronts.

And that is the challenge that now lies in wait for Saints.

They will be asked to stand up, fight and keep their season alive.

They must banish recent disappointments and show that, on their day, they can beat the best Europe has to offer.

It is a big ask - but you can bet that Boyd and Co will not be backing away from the exciting hurdles that lie in their path.

These are the perfect games for the boss to see what his players are made of.

They are the perfect games for the players to show how far the fresh confidence they have received from the changing of the Gardens guard can take them.

And these are the perfect games to help them finally end that wait for a first-team trophy.

It promises to be some ride for the black, green and gold in the coming weeks.

And if they can start it by finally slaying Saracens, who knows where this season's journey could yet take them.

Teams feed off winning silverware, as Saints did when lifting the Challenge Cup in 2014.

That gave them the taste for success and the belief they could achieve it.

They soon had their first Premiership trophy, claiming it during the same magical month of May.

Now Saints need a similarly magical March in 2019.

Tom's prediction: Saints 21 Saracens 18