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Preview: The Aviva Premiership Final: Leicester Tigers v Northampton Saints Preview: The Aviva Premiership Final: Leicester Tigers v Northampton Saints

Preview: The Aviva Premiership Final: Leicester Tigers v Northampton Saints

They say the key to good comedy is timing and Tom Wood insists the same applies to rugby as the Northampton Saints find themselves just 80 minutes away from lifting the Aviva Premiership Trophy.

With every passing season it is almost a given that Leicester Tigers will feature at the end-of-season Twickenham showpiece – this Saturday their ninth-straight final appearance.

Saints on the other hand are set to make their bow and they certainly went about it the hard way after squeezing into the fourth and final play-off spot.

This meant they had to travel to top-of-the-table Saracens for their semi-final and take them on in their new Allianz Park stadium – the London club having not previously lost at their new home.

But Wood and co changed all that as they ran out 27-13 winners to set up a mouth-watering East Midlands final against arch rivals Leicester.

The word underdog might be used to describe Northampton in the build-up to the clash, but flanker Wood believes the Saints’ end-of-season form proves they should not be counted out any time soon.

“On balance on the course of the season perhaps we don’t deserve to be in the final given that we’ve qualified fourth,” said Woods, ahead of his final game before he captains England on their summer tour.

“We’ve perhaps not played our best rugby but our performance against Saracens and knowing the quality and the bad luck we’ve had in previous years, we feel like it is our time and we can compete with anyone.

“Hopefully we are timing our run perfectly. Maybe we have just been lulling everyone into a false sense of security all year and we are just timing it right.

“That has been what has happened in previous years. We’ve actually got our timing quite poor in recent years.

“We’ve played a lot of good rugby at the start of the year and come out of the blocks and taken the Premiership by storm in the first few weeks and then we’ve run out of steam and in the end fallen at the final hurdle.

“But if it works the other way round this year, if everyone’s written us off, we’ve not played our best rugby but we start to really build and finish on a high then perhaps that’s one that we deserve.”

Although Leicester have reached the last eight finals their record doesn’t make for the happiest of reading having only won three of them, and losing the last two.

However with the chance to become English champions for a record tenth time, and on a run of form that has seen them lose just one Aviva Premiership match since February, Saints know they are in for a fight.

Saints are the ninth different club to reach a Premiership Final and Saturday will be their sixth visit to Rugby HQ, winning only twice at Twickenham.

But Aviva Premiership Player of the Season and soon-to-be British and Irish Lion Tom Youngs doesn’t believe Saints’ lack of final know-how will play into Tigers’ hands come Saturday.

“Our experience may play a little part but in the professional era you play in big games for your club and for your country,” the Leicester hooker said.

“A lot of players for Saints are international players so they’ll have played in big games, they played a Heineken Cup final a couple of years ago.

“I know they lost but they’ve played in big occasions, they know exactly how to do it.

“They played a big game last weekend against Saracens to win there so they’ll know exactly how to prepare and what to expect come next Saturday.”
 

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