Tom Vickers’ Gloucester v Saints preview: Mallinder’s men have no fear

READY FOR THE KINGSHOLM CHALLENGE - Saints director of rugby Jim Mallinder
READY FOR THE KINGSHOLM CHALLENGE - Saints director of rugby Jim Mallinder

If things stay true to form, a trip to Gloucester on Saturday should be perfect for Saints.

Not because the Cherry and Whites have lost their opening two games - in fact that can be viewed as a negative as Nigel Davies’ men will be even more fired up this time round.

Not because Saints have enjoyed superb successes on the opening two weekends of the season.

But because Jim Mallinder’s men love a challenge.

They regularly exit the lion’s den unscathed, letting out a throaty roar of intent in the process.

As forwards coach Dorian West pointed out earlier this week, Kingsholm will be an intimidating environment for the men in green, black and gold this week.

Saints head west with a bounty on their heads. They’re there to be shot at after all the pre and early-season hype.

Gloucester will want this.

They will crave a win in front of their own fans after letting them down against Sale on the opening day of the campaign.

But, as we’ve found out during the past season and a bit, Saints work best with their backs to the wall.

Last season, it was the ‘why not us?’ mentality that motivated the team, this time it’s the ‘it should be us’ mindset.

There is a belief among the players that they can go to the toughest of places, in front of the loudest of fans and walk away with points under their belt.

Nine of the 13 league away games since the start of the previous Premiership campaign have been won.

Only Leicester, Saracens, Harlequins and, in what was a miscellaneous result, London Irish have hosted Saints and come away with successes.

The siege mentality that has been fostered on the road, as shown in the stunning victory against Saracens in the Premiership play-off semi-final in May, lives on.

It was in evidence in the gritty win against Quins last Friday, as Saints again demostrated their burgeoning belief that they can beat anyone.

Now they need to show it against a Gloucester side they turned in one of their best performances against last season.

The opening-day win at Kingsholm saw Saints play some Champagne rugby before things started to turn a little sour late on.

Nevertheless, the game was won and Mallinder went on to lead his men to five successive victories at the start of the campaign.

A similar beginning would be hugely welcome this time round, especially when you consider three of the first five games are at Quins, Gloucester and Leicester.

As ever, though, Saints will show no fear.