Clash with Tigers will be 'ferocious', says Saints coach Vesty

Saints attack coach Sam Vesty
Saints attack coach Sam Vesty

Sam Vesty is expecting a 'ferocious' East Midlands derby at Franklin's Gardens this afternoon (kick-off 3pm).

Leicester Tigers come calling for a sold-out Gallagher Premiership showdown with Saints, who are currently second in the standings.

Tigers are second bottom, only ahead of Saracens due to their points deduction for salary cap breaches.

And former Leicester player Vesty, who is now Saints attack coach, said: "We're excited.

"It's always a big game when Leicester come to the Gardens, it's going to be a full house and it's going to be a ferocious encounter.

"You keep your week the same, you try not to rely on emotion so you keep tabs on that.

"We're focusing on the task in front of us but there's always a bit more zip in training."

Leicester may have only won one of their league games so far, but they now have their World Cup stars back.

And Vesty knows how tough it will be to beat a Tigers team who have won both of their matches in the European Challenge Cup in recent weeks.

He said: "They've looked really good in the Challenge Cup. They got a good win in a tough game at Cardiff and a good win against Pau, when they played really well.

"They've got some good players who have come back and had a big impact on their group.

"I'm expecting a very strong group to come down the M1 and it to be a real ferocious contest."

Vesty, who turned 38 on Tuesday, has played in many East Midlands derbies for Tigers, and also coached in a few since joining Saints.

And when asked for his memories of derby day, he said: "I remember my first ever one was for Leicester Under-19s and it was a derby-day at Franklin's Gardens on Boxing Day.

"It was my first initiation and Dusty Hare, who was very much on the Leicester Tigers side of things, was stoking the rivalry between the two.

"I remember that and it was a great game.

"I've got such a bad memory of my games, but that was a good one.

"One I didn't enjoy was last year at Twickenham (when Saints lost to Tigers)."

Saints go into this afternoon's game on the back of a 35-32 success at Benetton last Saturday.

They stormed back from 25-8 down to beat the Italians thanks to Dan Biggar's last-gasp penalty.

But there was a sense of disappointment from the Saints players and coaches after the game.

And Vesty explained: "I'm always disappointed when we don't play very well, win or lose.

"In that first half we didn't play well but absolute credit to the boys that we played really well to get out of the hole.

"We were disappointed at the time but looking back there were plenty of things to be proud of."