Wood sets sights on Tigers
May 13, 2013
Northampton flanker Tom Wood will lead England to Argentina this summer © PA Photos
Saints ended a run of four successive Premiership semi-final defeats with a brutally efficient 27-13 victory over a much-fancied Sarries side that finished three wins and 12 points above them in the league table at the end of the regular season.
Northampton's reward is a first-ever final appearance against their fierce east midlands rivals at Twickenham on May 25 where the odds will once again be stacked against them with Leicester having booked their place with a similarly impressive win against Harlequins.
The Tigers have also won their last seven games against the Saints - including a 36-8 mauling at Franklin's Gardens back in March.
Reflecting on his side's form-shredding semi-final performance, Wood told BBC Radio Northampton: "We knew we had it in us and it was good to put it together when it really counted. It's not about what's said outside of the camp. It's about inner belief. But it's going to have to go up a level."
Wood, who will lead England to Argentina this summer, added: "We can't get carried away at this stage. It's no good being in a final and folding. We've got two weeks to prepare for that and we know the threats Leicester pose and how tough a game that is going to be.
"It's quite a different challenge to Saracens, so we're going to have to go back to the drawing board and re-assess because we saw what they did to us at home not so long ago. We really owe them a few because we've lost a number of times against Leicester recently, but we've proven what we can do and it's about reproducing it."
Saints boss Jim Mallider said: "Leicester will go into the game as clear favourites but we will look forward to the challenge. Leicester have a wonderful squad, strength in depth and they are playing well. We will have to take whatever motivation we can in two weeks time."
Leicester flanker Tom Croft, who was pivotal in the Tigers' victory at Welford Road, is equally determined see his side notch one more win and reclaim a title they last won in 2010.
"It's good for the club (getting to Twickenham). The club is steeped in history in terms of reaching finals," Croft said. "It is an achievement, but everything focuses on the final and winning it. That has got to be the goal now."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Huw Richards profiles French forward Walter Spanghero, a man who even rugby's hard men thought was a tough nut
"To be part of the Commonwealth Games, I'd wear anything. I'd wear a clown suit." Tom Hamilton talks to Scotland's Sean Lamont
Scrum Sevens looks back at how rugby has fared in both the early Olympics and the past four Commonwealth Games
"Cheika's been phenomenal. He gives you an incredible level of mental strength." Tom Hamilton talks to Waratahs star Jacques Potgieter