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Preview: Northampton Saints v Saracens

Preview: Northampton Saints v Saracens

Saracens full-back Alex Goode wants his teammates to put emotions aside when they take on Northampton Saints in Saturday’s Aviva Premiership Rugby semi-final – a repeat of last year’s final.

That game finished in heartbreak for Sarries, with Alex Waller’s last-gasp try securing a dramatic 24-20 victory for Saints.

It was a bitter pill to swallow for Goode’s team, who had not only led the final heading into the last minute of extra time but also finished nine points ahead of the pack in the regular-season.

But Northampton have won the last three Aviva Premiership Rugby meetings between these two sides and Goode feels a more calculated approach is needed from Saracens to regain the upper hand over their opponents.

“It’s been a very different route this year – we’re not top of the tree or the frontrunners for once,” he explained.

“We’re coming from slightly further back but we still believe we can do it from here.

“It was a nervy runout last week – you saw the way if we’d score there’d be no celebration, we’d run back to the halfway line in an old-school celebration really.

“There was no emotion, it was just a case of trotting back and getting ready for the kick off.

“Everyone loves being in control but maybe not knowing if we were going to do it put our team on edge a bit and that brought the best out of us.

“I don’t want to be going into the final in anger. I want to be quite calm and composed in the game and have that steely determination to win.”

Northampton might have lost their final game of the regular season 22-14 to Leicester Tigers but they had long wrapped up home advantage in the semi-finals.

Franklin’s Gardens has become a fortress for the Saints this season – they have lost just once in 14 home games, in November against Exeter Chiefs.

But Courtney Lawes believes there will be a clean slate for Saturday’s match and while Northampton have dominated this season, previous encounters between the two sides count for very little.

“It always gives you a bit of confidence having beaten the people you are going up against recently but it’s a new game and they’ll have slightly different tactics this time around,” he said.

“Whoever you play it’s going to be a tough game in the semi-finals and Saracens are no exception.

“They are going to bring it and do what they do well – they got very far in Europe this season so they’ll bring the same attitude and play to win.

“It’s up to us to counteract what their strengths are – there are certainly things they do better than us but like last time we played them we can find a way to win.

“I’m sure there will be a lot of to-ing and fro-ing and whoever comes with the best game plan and executes it well will win.”

Tickets to the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final are selling faster than this time last year so now's the time to click here to book your place at the world's biggest club rugby final

Franklin’s Gardens, 2pm – Live on BT Sport

Referee: Greg Garner (82nd Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Luke Pearce and Matthew Carley. TMO: Sean Davey.

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