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Saracens v Northampton Saints

Saracens v Northampton Saints

Northampton Saints’ Aviva Premiership play-off record doesn’t make for the happiest reading, having played five semi-finals but still without an appearance in the showpiece to show for it.

But despite having to go through top-of-the-table Saracens to change all that on Sunday in front of the ESPN cameras, prop Tom Mercey is convinced Northampton are well-placed to break their play-off hoodoo.

The history books continue to conjure up unpleasant memories for Saints fans ahead of Sunday’s clash, with Sarries having won the last three contests between the two clubs and Northampton not winning away to their London rivals since 2004.

Add to the fact that Saracens are yet to taste defeat at Allianz Park and things don’t bode well for Mercey and co.

But despite having to win on the road in order to reach Twickenham for the final on May 25, Saints have shown their mettle away from Franklin’s Gardens with a 22-19 loss to Harlequins last time out only their first away defeat in five games.

And 25-year-old Mercey insists everyone at the club will travel to Saracens without fear, whatever history might suggest. 

“Because we will be playing on an artificial surface we have prepared for a quick game and everyone has become accustomed to the surface,” he said.

“I trained on an artificial surface at my last two years at Saracens and this week it has certainly been nice to acclimatise to it and getting your body used to playing on the surface.

“The guys have certainly grown in the squad with the experiences we have had. This weekend should be a good game and everyone is really raring to go.

“You are always trying to improve and we have been. After the Harlequins game we tried to take the positives out of it, we finished really strong and look to take that into the game.

“We were strong in all quarters and we will take something from that into the game with Saracens.”

Despite taking on Northampton in the safe haven that is Allianz Park, Saracens have in fact lost their last three semi-finals in all competitions.

And Saracens forwards coach Alex Sanderson knows that Northampton Saints will be eager to make it four having narrowly downed them 17-16 in the dying seconds when they last met.

“We were underdogs for a few years and it’s a massive motivational factor in terms of your players,” Sanderson said. 

“They don’t like us anyway we know that and we’ve scorned them this season already so they’ll be desperate to put one over on us.

“Narrowly losing to us by a ball bounce or a crossbar means they know they are in arm’s reach of beating us on the day so we’re fully aware of the task at hand and what we need to do.”  

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