The Aviva Premiership reaches Round 17 of 22 this weekend, weather permitting, and for the Saints that means a home game against Sale Sharks at 3pm on Saturday. Not on the TV schedules so commentary on Radio Northampton if you can’t get to Franklin’s Gardens.
Last week’s frustrating bonus point loss at Exeter saw the Saints move one point further ahead of Worcester (who lost by quite a margin to London Irish) and move to just one point behind 9th place Harlequins. Sale are in 8th, some 7 points ahead of Saints, and they also had a frustrating time last week – losing 33-32 at Bath after being ahead for much of the game. As Harlequins play Bath at the Stoop on Friday night by Saturday afternoon we will know whether we have a chance of overtaking them.
Saints and Sale have already clashed twice this season, losing 18-15 in the league in November and winning 24-20 in the Anglo-Welsh Cup in January, both games at Salford. Best of three then!
Rugby League convert Denny Solomona is an obvious threat in the Sharks attack but someone else who has impressed me this season is Faf De Klerk at Scrum Half. He’s come from the South African team Golden Lions and has racked up 94 points in 20 appearences – but he has racked up 2 yellows and a red as well. A good distributor of the ball, he is also adept at finding a way through gaps in the defence with a sharp turn of speed. If the Saints defence can close him down then that should weigh the odds heavily in our favour.