Northampton Saints lock Courtney Lawes is not expecting a repeat performance of their front-five domination against London Wasps as they prepare for the visit of Leicester Tigers to Franklin’s Gardens.
Northampton effectively scored four tries last weekend as a result of catch and drives from line-outs but Lawes is not expecting the same charity from Leicester on Saturday.
Leicester are the Aviva Premiership’s best away side having secured 27 league points on their travels this season.
And Lawes is expecting a physical battle upfront as he prepares to face the likes of England teammates Tom Croft, Geoff Parling, Tom Youngs and Dan Cole.
“I think it’s fair to say that our pack is not going to be quite as dominant as it was against Wasps when we take on Leicester,” said Lawes.
“Traditionally their pack is fantastic and we will be working hard to make sure it’s an even encounter.
“It’s a big run in for the club now to try and secure a top-four spot, there’s a lot of competition around us in the table.
“We cannot afford a slip-up between now and the end of the season and that starts against Leicester who have been in good form as well, it’s a big test.”
Saints and Tigers both jointly lead the Aviva Premiership, along with Wasps, in scoring 40 tries a piece during this season's campaign.
Leicester have won their last six encounters with Northampton in all competitions since the Saints’ 27-19 win at Franklin’s Gardens in the opening round of the 2010/11 Aviva Premiership season.
And Leicester lock Ed Slater is predicting the Tigers will face the ultimate examination against in-form Northampton.
“Northampton showed against London Wasps just what a massively physical side they are among the forward pack so it will be a tough game for sure, especially at Franklin’s Gardens,” said Slater.
“We are also a side that likes to get on top of teams in the forward pack so we are bracing ourselves for a challenge.
“The win against London Wasps meant that they have everything to play for now and we are in the same position with our sights on a home semi-final.
“If we are going to get that we need to win every game and not have any slip ups so that starts with Northampton this weekend.”
Referee: Wayne Barnes (119th Premiership game)
Assistant Referees: Robin Goodliffe & Roy Maybank. TMO: David Grashoff.