Timisoara Saracens v Northampton Saints: Tom Vickers' big match preview

Saints cruised past the Dragons last Saturday (picture: Sharon Lucey)
Saints cruised past the Dragons last Saturday (picture: Sharon Lucey)

Fixture: Timisoara Saracens v Northampton Saints

Competition: Challenge Cup (Pool 1)

Venue: Stadionul Dan Păltinișanu, Timisoara

Date and kick-off time: Saturday, December 15, 2018, 12.30pm (GMT)

Referee: Joy Neville (Ireland)

Television coverage: None

Saints: Tuala; Sleightholme, Dingwall, Burrell (c), Collins; Grayson, Mitchell; Van Wyk, Marshall, Hill; Ribbans, Ratuniyarawa; Onojaife, Brüssow, Eadie.

Replacements: Fish, Davis, Painter, Moon, Coles, Ryan, Davies, Hutchinson.

Tom's preview: Saints haven't found much favour with teams with Saracens in their title in recent times.

But they will be firmly expected to change that this weekend.

Because rather than being up against the formidable force from Allianz Park, Saints take on a Romanian outfit who have struggled to compete in the Challenge Cup this season.

Timisoara have shipped an eye-watering 171 points in three games in Europe so far, with Clermont Auvergne and the Dragons doing some real damage.

And Saints will be expected to replicate that when they step on to the pitch at Stadionul Dan Păltinișanu on Saturday afternoon.

Chris Boyd's men were far too strong for the Dragons last Saturday, with Pool 1 seemingly having four very distinct tiers.

Clermont look clear at the top, Saints seem to have an ocean between themselves and third-placed Dragons, who appear far better than Timisoara.

It is making for a predictable pool stage, and Saints will hope that continues this weekend as they look to convert their favourites tag in convincing fashion.

Boyd has already admitted that Saints' sights are firmly fixed on the return to Premiership action at Worcester Warriors next Friday.

But they must still complete their mission in Romania to avoid going to Sixways on the back of what would be a shocking defeat.

Saints are focusing on their own game plan and this weekend's tussle gives them another chance to test out plans they are trying to implement.

And they must keep their standards high because they can't afford to go to Worcester at any less than 100 per cent.

The Premiership is the priority for Boyd and Co, but European wins are a big bonus.

And any victory against a Saracens side is a worthwhile one!

Tom's prediction: Timisoara Saracens 16 Saints 41