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Preview: Leicester Tigers v Northampton Saints

Preview: Leicester Tigers v Northampton Saints

Leicester Tigers wing Adam Thompstone has urged his team not to take their eye off the ball and risk their semi-final place with defeat to Northampton Saints on Saturday.

Tigers, currently in third place in the Aviva Premiership Rugby table, know victory will be enough to ensure they make the semi-finals for an 11th year in a row.

But defeat to their fierce rivals at Welford Road would leave Exeter Chiefs and Saracens an opportunity to pounce.

However, rather than waste energy on worrying about what is happening elsewhere, Thompstone wants his team to fulfil their part of the bargain first and foremost.

“When we run out we know what we have got to do, regardless of what happens elsewhere,” said the 27-year-old.

“We have to win our game and worry about that only, because we can’t control what is happening in other games.

"We will try and blank it from our minds, then, if during the game we need to change our approach because of the other scores then that’s down to the coaches to communicate that. But until we are told otherwise, we will stick to what we know.

“The boys are looking forward to it. It’s a local derby, so if you can’t get up for that you’re in the wrong job. The atmosphere at Welford Road is just going to be awesome, it is going to be a pleasure to play.

“Whatever team Northampton field they are strong. They are top for a reason, they have a fine squad and will give us as hard a game as we have encountered all season. Throw in the fact it is a derby too and it will be gruelling.”

Reigning champions Saints really have been the trailblazers this season, having scored the most tries, conceded the fewest points and ensured they will finish top of the table for the first time.

Jim Mallinder’s men have lost just one of their last four Aviva Premiership Rugby clashes with Leicester.

But the Tigers are traditionally strong at Welford Road, defeat to London Irish in September their sole home reverse since November 2013.

And Saints wing Jamie Elliott knows they will be for a battle.

“Welford Road is going to be a tough place to go to this weekend with the crowd getting behind them and the small pitch,” he said.

“It is going to be a physical battle, they’re trying to play for something and we’ll be aiming to stop them getting what they want.

“It will be a really tough game but it should be a good spectacle. Obviously it’s the derby, so everyone is really up for it. You can’t shy away from those.

“Getting some momentum to take into the semi-finals is massive. When you come up against a side that keeps winning, it’s going to affect your mind – so we have to keep our momentum going.”

Welford Road, 3.30pm – Live on BT Sport

Referee: Matthew Carley (31st Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Tim Wigglesworth and Peter Huckle. TMO: Rowan Kitt.

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