Saints eye Sarries revenge
May 9, 2010
Saracens celebrate their win over Leicester © Getty Images
Northampton Saints are expecting a colossal match-up against Saracens in the Guinness Premiership semi-finals, and will be motivated by gaining revenge for their last-gasp defeat two weeks ago.
The Saints were irked by Saracens' celebrations that day and have hit out at their opponents for a lack of class. Saracens won both regular season league clashes between the clubs, but Saints claimed an Anglo-Welsh Cup double on their way to the title. There was also the protracted slanging match between the clubs caused by prop Soane Tonga'uiha's contract u-turn, and all signs point to a full-blooded affair at the Gardens on Sunday.
"That hurt, hearing them singing as if they had won the league," Saints boss Jim Mallinder said. "For us, you can take motivation from a lot of things, and we are eagerly looking forward to that game next weekend now.
"We've had some close games against them this season. They are playing well - they played very well when they came to our place - and they've just won at Welford Road against Leicester. It will be an almighty battle, but we think we have a side to win that game."
The Saints righted their recent form blip by coasting to victory over London Irish on Saturday, although Sarries had more reason to smile after seeing off league leaders and reigning champions Leicester at Welford Road.
"We measure ourselves against Leicester, as they are the best side in the Premiership," Saracens boss Brendan Venter said. "We are really looking forward to the challenge next week. Northampton made a few comments about the extent of our celebrations when we won there, but we sing our song when we win. It was a fantastic day."
The Saints will be anxiously monitoring an ankle injury picked up by England fullback Ben Foden in their win over the Exiles, with more information set to emerge this week.
The All Blacks' form is not a peaking issue, but Hansen must threaten to wield his axe, to demand improvement, Craig Dowd writes
"It has been the World Cup that smashed down the gender barriers of the sport." Tom Hamilton looks back at a remarkable tournament
A selection of the best pictures from England's historic World Cup triumph in Paris as they beat Canada 21-9
The latest Week in Pictures takes in the Women's World Cup, the opening round of the Top 14 and the Rugby Championship