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Preview: Saracens v Northampton Saints

Preview: Saracens v Northampton Saints

Andy Saull insists Saracens are well-travelled enough not to let a new environment hamper their preparations ahead of their clash with Northampton Saints at stadiummk.

The Sarries travel to Milton Kenyes– their fifth different home venue of the season – looking to make it back-to-back Aviva Premiership wins against the Saints this season following October’s 16-6 victory at Franklin’s Gardens. 

Trailing league-leaders Harlequins by just one point, and with Saints currently on the cusp of the play-offs in fifth, victory will be crucial for a side who have won six of their last seven league matches. 

With a morale-boosting 19-13 Heineken Cup victory over Munster, which kept their European hopes alive, followed by a 22-0 victory over Bath at The Rec, confidence is high for Mark McCall’s side. 

And flanker Saull, who will be hoping to return from a hamstring strain, is convinced those two victories demonstrated that the Sarries have plenty of talent at their disposal.

He said: “I think morale is probably at its highest point of the season currently.

“We always have these big games and need someone to step up and I think this is no different – there’s bags of quality in this side and I know we have plenty of big-game players and that will come in handy against Northampton.

“I have grown up at Vicarage Road so it’s always strange when we don’t play there. “But we are enjoying the experience of playing at different grounds and this is no different.

“It’s obviously a big game, it’s a terrible cliché but they are all big games at this point in the season because you can’t afford to be dropping points.

“Everyone knows about how good Saints are and we will need a big performance to beat them.”
Northampton were unable to follow up their European victory in the Aviva Premiership, losing out 18-9 to league-leaders Harlequins last Saturday after becoming the first team to beat Ulster all season the week before. 

The defeat to Quins dropped Jim Mallinder’s side out of the play-off zone, but are expected to take thousands of fans on the relatively short trip down the M1 to Milton Keynes to renew their rivalry with Sarries.

And No 8 Gerrit-Jan van Velze admits he and his team-mates are relishing the prospect of a well-attended derby.

“Hopefully we’ll get a full house and it’s going to be a big derby,” he said.

“Saracens are very physical, they defend very well, they’ve got good line speed and they play off our errors so we need to look after the ball and just be physical and in their faces.”

“We’ve got very high standards and we want to keep to them.

“We don’t want to go two steps forward and one step back so we’ll work on our performances and standards and there’s no reason to think it won’t go right on Sunday.”
Referee: J P Doyle (52nd Premiership game)
Assistant Referees: Ashley Rowden, Stuart Terheege. TMO: Graham Hughes.

For more news, try out Match Preview Northampton Saints Saracens
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