Bath v Northampton Saints: Tom Vickers' big match preview

Fixture: Bath v Northampton Saints

By Tom Vickers
Friday, 22nd April 2022, 12:22 pm
Luther Burrell scored when Saints last won at Bath, in December 2015
Luther Burrell scored when Saints last won at Bath, in December 2015

Competition: Gallagher Premiership

Date and kick-off time: Saturday, April 23, 2022, 3pm

Venue: The Recreation Ground, Bath

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Weather forecast: 16c, cloudy

Live television coverage: PRTV Live

Referee: Luke Pearce

Bath: De Glanville; Rokoduguni, Joseph, Clark; Muir; Cipriani, Spencer; Morozov, Dunn, Stuart; Williams; Ewels (c); Bayliss, Reid, Faletau.

Replacements: Du Toit, Cordwell, Rae, Richards, Coetzee, Simpson, Bailey, Cokanasiga.

Saints: Freeman; Sleightholme, Proctor, Hutchinson, Collins; Furbank, Mitchell; Waller, Matavesi, Hill; Coles, Ratuniyarawa; Ludlam (c), Harrison, Augustus.

Replacements: Haywood, Iyogun, Carey, Moon, Nansen, James, Grayson, Francis.

Not considered for Saints selection: Matthew Arden, Nick Auterac, Dan Biggar, Fraser Dingwall, Courtney Lawes, Ollie Newman, Ehren Painter, David Ribbans, Courtnall Skosan, Kayde Sylvester, Karl Wilkins, Tom Wood.

Most recent meeting: Saturday, December, 2021: Saints 40 Bath 19 (Gallagher Premiership)

Tom's preview: One glance at the Gallagher Premiership table would seem to suggest Saints will pick up the win they so badly need on Saturday.

But when you actually dig deeper, you realise that the trip to Bath will be anything but routine.

Unlike at somewhere such as Sixways, where Saints so often seem to see off Worcester Warriors, The Rec has been far from a happy hunting ground.

In fact, the black, green and gold have not won at Bath since way back in December 2015.

And even then, the margin was only two points as a late JJ Hanrahan penalty provided a 13-11 win for Jim Mallinder's men.

That was in the middle of a season that saw Saints finish fifth in the Premiership standings, but they will be desperate to finish one place higher this time round.

If they are to achieve that, you feel they will have to end that horror streak at Bath on Saturday.

But, again, that will be far easier said than done.

Because while this weekend's opponents have only won four of their 20 league games this season, the threat they pose is there for all to see.

They have a line-up that is so much better than the league standings suggest.

In Charlie Ewels, Toby Faletau and Ben Spencer, to name but a few, they have some of the best players in their position in the entirety of the Premiership.

And recently at The Rec, there have been real signs of life.

In fact, only league leaders Leicester Tigers have won there in the Premiership in 2022 - and that was only by four points.

Bath have beaten Worcester, Harlequins and Bristol, and they have also drawn with Sale.

So the form is there, and so are the players.

Saints will have to show they are not deterred by that though.

Their most recent league away win, at London Irish last month, set the standard they must maintain for the remainder of the Premiership season.

They had big performances from Lions stars Courtney Lawes and Dan Biggar at the Brentford Community Stadium, but they will have to do without both of them at Bath.

That is a big blow, but this is where the squad has to step up.

There can be no excuses as Saints try to avoid falling away.

It was something that happened to them last season as they eventually finished 14 points behind Harlequins.

And we all know what Quins went on to achieve in the play-offs.

Saints host the champions next week and they will be desperate to go into that game on the back of an away win.

To do that though, they will have to show they have both the substance and style to see off a Bath team who have savoured home games against Saints for far too long.

Tom's prediction: This is a really tough game for Saints. Bath have been much better at home of late and they always seem to beat the black, green and gold at The Rec. But if Chris Boyd's side are to stand any chance of securing a play-off spot, they have to end that barren run at this ground. Bath 23 Saints 27.