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Preview: Northampton Saints v Gloucester

Preview: Northampton Saints v Gloucester

Gloucester Rugby captain Tom Savage knows his teammates face a daunting task if they want to topple Aviva Premiership leaders Northampton Saints for the second time this season.

The Cherry & Whites are the only team to beat Saints in the league this season – a 26-24 win back in September – in what has been a frustrating campaign.

Their 25-20 victory over Harlequins at Kingsholm last weekend ended a three-match losing streak in the league and they have not won away from home in 2014.

But Savage, who has been forced to watch on from the sidelines since tearing a pectoral muscle in November, believes beating Quins could have a profound effect on their season.

However, travelling to fortress Franklin’s Gardens is one of the toughest tasks in an Aviva Premiership season.

“You think of the tough games that we are going to go away to – Saints is definitely going to be up there,” said Savage.

“It is never easy to go up the Franklin’s Gardens. They have been on fire this year, to be perfectly honest.

“I am really happy for the boys to grind out that victory against a tough Quins side. It is nice to have finally got that victory under our belts.

“We are staying really positive. We are training hard and working hard and we are really trying to turn it around.

“A side like Quins knows how to go and win games and they are consistently pushing for silverware. Hopefully we can carry that into this weekend.”

Northampton don’t have the best record against the Cherry & Whites, winning just two of their last seven encounters in the Aviva Premiership.

However, they have won their last eight matches at Franklin's Gardens in Aviva Premiership Rugby, since Leicester Tigers won there last March.

And the Saints continue to set a new club record in the Premiership, which now stands at 12 games unbeaten.

Lock Samu Manoa has been integral to that success, notching six league tries already this season, and he is determined to help Northampton finish the season top of the pile.

“I enjoy scoring tries, everybody wants to score them,” said Manoa.

“I guess I have been lucky this season to be in the right place at the right time to score some good tries. But that comes from good work from the pack and from the other boys to open it up.

“I don’t set myself targets for scoring tries, I didn’t even know that people were keeping count of them.

“I think it matters in a way who comes first and second as it will determine who we play in the semi-final. We want to stay on top as a matter of pride.”

(Franklin's Gardens 3pm)
Referee:
Tim Wigglesworth (79th Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Nigel Carrick & Simon McConnell. TMO: Rowan Kitt.

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