Dylan Hartley’s indiscretion cost his Northampton side in last season’s Premiership final at Twickenham and this Saturday’s rematch at Welford Road is set to be as fiery as the two early season pace setters go head to head.
Besides Saracens, these two head the list of likely competition winners and having laid down a marker with a win at Harlequins in September; another Northampton away win would real stamp their credentials all over the competition even at this early stage.
Understandably, the bookies have Leicester as decent favourites and have a five point handicap across the board which seems a bit generous. Leicester are still missing Manu Tuilagi, Matt Tait and Tom Croft and I can’t see them running away with proceeding against Jim Mallinder’s side. Northampton would be four from four were it not for a bizarre last minute penalty awarded to Gloucester but impressive wins over Sale, Harlequins and Exeter see them currently second in the table.
A big summer in the transfer market signalled their intent with Lions heroes Alex Corbisiero and George North joining the midlands club. Perhaps their biggest decision was to finally plump with Steven Myler at fly half and he has repaid the faith showed in him in the first four rounds. Leicester haven’t got the most experienced back three this weekend and the likes of Ben Foden and George North could well hurt the home side.
Leicester have won their last seven games in the Premiership against Northampton but interestingly enough they have won their home matches by fewer points than the away games. Wins by four and five points in their last two games at Welford road in the last two East Midlands derby show the difficulties they have faced and this Saturday’s clash should be no different.
Northampton will see this as their best chance in recent years to claim a famous scalp but you would be a brave man to go against the Tigers at home. Northampton aren’t going to get blown away by their rivals and so instead of a Northampton win I’d rather back Northampton with an nine point handicap with bet victor at 8/13
- 1.5 points Northampton +9 @ 8/13 with Bet Victor
- 1.5 points Total points over 40.5 @ 10/11 with Bet365