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Thursday, 13 December, 2018

Saracens have the composure to reel in sparkling Saints

Louis Picamoles on the charge for Northampton
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Northampton v Saracens
BT Sport 1, 3pm Sunday

Northampton's last two Premiership matches have ended with late reverses in high-scoring games against top-four opponents and a similar story may unfold when champions Saracens visit.

The Saints have moved the match to Milton Keynes and are the narrowest of favourites as Sarries are resting a number of key players with next weekend's huge European Champions Cup semi-final against Munster in mind.

There's no Mako Vunipola, Maro Itoje, Owen Farrell or Brad Barritt in the squad while Billy Vunipola and Chris Ashton are on the bench.

That's six internationals out of the starting line-up, but it's not about the individuals at Saracens, whose success has been forged on their cohesion and well-drilled defence.

That defence looks set to be tested against a Northampton side who have hit top gear in attack since the turn of the year - they have scored at least 30 points in six of their last seven Premiership games going back to January.

The Saints have plenty of spark in their backline, although there's no George North this week, but they may find that old-fashioned power rather than trickery is the key against Sarries' suffocating defence.

Northampton could have an edge up front given the absentees from the Saracens pack and there are number of hard-hitting ball-carriers who can lead the home side's charge, among them Louis Picamoles who is a tireless runner. The France number eight looks value to get on the scoresheet.

Saints started brightly against Wasps and Leicester in their last two outings and the rotation in the Saracens ranks may allow them to do the same. However, they failed to hold on in the second half on both occasions and that is a concern against a Sarries side renowned for their composure and relentless workrate.

The visitors also boast a strong bench so the 13-2 about Northampton leading at half-time and Saracens taking the spoils has to be worth chancing.

Northampton-Saracens double result
1pt 13-2 Coral, Ladbrokes
L Picamoles first tryscorer
0.5pt each-way 18-1 Betfair, Paddy Power

The Saints have moved the match to Milton Keynes and are the narrowest of favourites as Sarries are resting a number of key players
E.W. Terms
Sky bet