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Northampton Saints
Gallagher Premiership Playoffs | Semi-Finals
May 31, 2024 at 7.45pm UK
SaintsNorthampton Saints
Odendaal (19')
Lewington (54'), Cinti Luna (78')

Preview: Northampton Saints vs. Saracens - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Friday's Gallagher Premiership Playoffs clash between Northampton Saints and Saracens, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

The first semi-final of the 2023-24 Gallagher Premiership season will get underway on Friday when the Northampton Saints play host to Saracens at Franklin Gardens.

This match takes place exactly 10 years to the day since these two rugby powerhouses contested the Premiership final in 2014, which the Saints won 24-20 after extra time.

Match preview

Northampton Saints' Courtney Lawes in action with Saracens' Theo McFarland and Nick Isiekwe in March 2024© Reuters

Last week, the official Premiership Team of the Season was announced and featured as many as five Northampton players, which was the most of any side, indicating just how good they have been in the competition this term.

Among the players that made the side was the league's top try-scorer Ollie Sleightholme, who scored a hat-trick in the Saints' record-breaking 90-0 victory over Gloucester in the penultimate match of the group. Fin Smith, Courtney Lawes, Alex Coles and Curtis Langdon also made the cut.

However, while the Saints have been the side to beat in the league this season, it has been a full decade since they last won the title, during which time Saracens have lifted the trophy five times, including last year.

Phil Dowson's side lost their final game of the regular season 43-12 to Bath on the road, although that result was somewhat misleading considering the Saints made wholesale changes for the match, retaining only two players from their demolition of Gloucester a week earlier.

Despite that result, Northampton's earlier performances in the competition, including beating Sarries home and away, saw them finish top of the table, giving them home advantage in this semi-final, and they will be determined to avoid the same mistakes that ended up costing them dearly in the Champions Cup semis against Leinster in Dublin at the start of the month.

This season's Gallagher Premiership has been full of intriguing storylines, and there may still be more to come as Saracens look to become the first side to advance to the finals since 2015 as the visiting team.

The defending champions suffered defeat in their final group-stage match of the competition, as Sale managed to upset the odds with a dogged 20-10 victory at StoneX Stadium, costing Mark McCall's side a home playoff tie and leaving them with a trip to the form team in the league.

Saracens' season has experienced significant highs, such as the 52-7 victory against Harlequins in Tottenham in March, and lows including the 41-30 defeat to Saints a week later, where the scoreboard was kinder to them than the performance warranted.

However, despite lacking home advantage in their quest to reach a third consecutive Premiership final, McCall indicated earlier this week that his team have shown enough flashes of form on the road this season to suggest that their trip to the table-toppers is a winnable one.

Saracens lost seven out of 18 games overall this season but managed to win five of their nine regular season away matches, including crucial run-in victories at Bath Rugby and against the Bristol Bears.

Northampton Saints Gallagher Premiership form:

  • W
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • L

Saracens Gallagher Premiership form:

  • W
  • L
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • L

Team News

The Saints confirmed a few weeks ago that they are set to part ways with as many as 16 players at the end of this season. Among those departing are three loyal servants in Courtney Lawes, Lewis Ludlam and Alex Waller.

As mentioned, Northampton made wholesale changes last week to avoid any unnecessary injuries and we are likely to see the likes of George Furbank, James Ramm and George Hendy, among others, return to the starting 15 here.

For the visitors, Owen Farrell could be making his final appearance in a Sarries jersey this weekend before he joins Paris-based outfit Racing 92 at the end of Saracens' title defence.

Ben Earl was the only Saracens player to make it into the Team of the Season and should retain his place in the second row behind Christian Judge, Jamie George and Mako Vunipola, who will also be leaving the club at the end of this competition.

Northampton Saints predicted starting lineup: 15 George Furbank, 14 James Ramm, 13 Tommy Freeman, 12 Fraser Dingwall, 11 George Hendy, 10 Fin Smith, 9 Alex Mitchell, 8 Juarno Augustus, 7 Sam Graham, 6 Courtney Lawes (captain), 5 Alex Coles, 4 Alex Moon, 3 Trevor Davison, 2 Curtis Langdon, 1 Alex Waller

Replacements: 16 Sam Matavesi, 17 Emmanuel Iyogun, 18 Elliot Millar Mills, 19 Temo Mayanavanua, 20 Angus Scott-Young, 21 Tom James, 22 Tom Litchfield, 23 Tom Seabrook

Saracens starting predicted lineup: 15 Elliot Daly, 14 Alex Lewington, 13 Lucio Cinti, 12 Nick Tompkins, 11 Tom Parton, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Tom Willis, 7 Ben Earl, 6 Juan Martin Gonzalez, 5 Hugh Tizard, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Christian Judge, 2 Jamie George, 1 Mako Vunipola

Replacements: 16 Theo Dan, 17 Eroni Mawi, 18 Marco Riccioni, 19 Nick Isiekwe, 20 Theo McFarland, 21 Billy Vunipola, 22 Aled Davies, 23 Alex Goode

SM words green background

We say: Northampton Saints 38-29 Saracens

The Saints have been the team to beat in this season's Gallagher Premiership, and having overcome this opponent home and away already this season, it is unsurprising to see them enter this contest as the clear favourites.

While Saracens have proven time and again that they are not to be counted out, the Saints have had their number this season, and we feel the hosts will secure a fairly comfortable victory in this one.

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