Date: Sunday 26th September
Kick off: 15:00
Venue: Vicarage Road
After their opening round defeat against London Irish, Saracens have responded with wins over Sale and Leeds, and should be confident facing the Saints at home. They beat them twice at Franklins Gardens at the end of last season, and will fancy their chances of ending their unbeaten run at Vicarage Road on Sunday.
The only remaining unbeaten side, and it’s not as though they’ve played lower-ranked teams: Leicester, Harlequins and Bath have all been dispatched by a team on great form and playing some delightful rugby. As Stu Peel mentioned his his article this week, the Saints seem to be setting the standard to which other teams aspire, but this will be another stern examination of their credentials.
What to expect:
A wonderful confrontation between two sides with strength in every position. Northampton have been exceptional so far this season, sweeping Bath aside last week with relative ease, and it’s difficult to pinpoint strengths because there are so many. Saracens have also played like a top 4 team, although the calibre of opposition they’ve beaten is slightly different which could give Saints the edge. Both have a formidable pack, and a set of electric backs that can light up a game in an instant, so I’m looking forward to big things.
All eyes on:
Schalk Brits has been talked about so much that I was trying not to mention him, but he really is a phenomenon. He’s scored in all three matches so far, is the jewel in the crown of the Sarries pack, the darling of the Watford faithful and I’d expect him to outshine Dylan Hartley opposite him.
Head to head: David Strettle v Chris Ashton
David Strettle has been making headlines with his last couple of outings following his move to Sarries, and there is already speculation about a return to the England setup. This fixture will be a great opportunity to compare him to Chris Ashton, the undisputed number one wing in English rugby. They won’t be directly opposite each other, but given that they both roam the pitch hungry for work, we may well see the odd clash.
Last year’s result: 12th September 2009 – Saracens 19 Northampton 16
Weather forecast: Light showers according to the BBC, which could mean anything. Hopefully the rain will stay away and we’ll be in for a competitive, high-scoring treat.
Prediction: A very tough one to call, but based on the opposition they’ve faced so far, I’m going for Saints by 5.