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

Fixture: Leicester Tigers v Northampton Saints

By Tom Vickers
Thursday, 10th February 2022, 7:41 pm

Competition: Gallagher Premiership

Venue: Mattioli Woods Welford Road

Date and kick-off time: Friday, February 11, 2022, 7.45pm

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Sam Matavesi scored for Saints in their win at Mattioli Woods Welford Road last season

Weather forecast: 3c, cloudy

Live television coverage: BT Sport 1

Referee: Matthew Carley

Leicester Tigers: Hegarty; Potter, Porter, Kelly, Nadolo; Burns, Wigglesworth; Whitcombe, Montoya, Cole; Wells, Green; Liebenberg (c), Reffell, Wiese.

Replacements: Clare, Van Wyk, Leatigaga, Snyman, Martin, van Poortvliet, Scott, Ashton.

Saints: Tuala; Sleightholme, Dingwall (c), Hutchinson, Skosan; Furbank, Mitchell; Waller, Matavesi, Hill; Ribbans, Ratuniyarawa; Wood, Harrison, Augustus.

Replacements: Haywood, Iyogun, Carey, Coles, Wilkins, James, Grayson, Proctor.

Not considered for Saints selection: Matthew Arden, Emeka Atuanya, Tommy Freeman, Jake Garside, Oisin Heffernan, Lewis Ludlam, Alex Moon, Taqele Naiyaravoro, Kayde Sylvester.

On international duty: Dan Biggar, Ethan Grayson, George Hendy, Courtney Lawes, Tom Litchfield, Tom Litchfield.

Most recent meeting: Saturday, October 30, 2021: Saints 26 Leicester Tigers 55 (Gallagher Premiership)

Tom's preview: From Ehren Painter’s crucial scrum cameo to an injured Dan Biggar’s superb tap tackle, Saints have stepped up in the most important moments at Welford Road in recent years.

In fact, so resilient have the black, green and gold been that they have won on four of their past five visits to the ground.

And when you consider that prior to that they had not won at Leicester for more than 11 years, that is some record.

But this week, Saints know that prevailing at the home of their local rivals will be as hard as it has ever been.

Because Tigers have well and truly rediscovered their mojo under the stewardship of Steve Borthwick.

Saints have already sampled that first hand, having been crushed 55-26 at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens back on October 30.

Tigers turned up and put on a show for their travelling fans, controlling the formative stages of the game as they made their way into a formidable lead.

Saints had few solutions and the more they chased the match, the more they unravelled.

And Tigers have continued to go from strength to strength, sitting top of the Gallagher Premiership standings by a margin of seven points, which puts them a sweet (from a Leicester perspective) 16 ahead of Saints.

There is no doubt that the home side will be favourites this week in front of a sizeable crowd.

But Saints have shown they can win at Welford Road so frequently in recent times, and they must use that fine run to spark belief this week.

It’s time to summon up the spirit of all the Saints sides who have won on enemy soil before and repeat the trick once more.

Tom's prediction: Tigers are clearly a formidable outfit now and they will be confident that they can repeat their big win at the Gardens. Saints have hope, having done so well in East Midlands derbies in enemy territory in recent times, but Tigers might just be too strong here. Tigers 30 Saints 24.