Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

Tigers target bragging rights

Latest rugby union news

Leicester will look to underline their Aviva Premiership play-off credentials and claim east Midlands bragging rights when they tackle fierce rivals Northampton on Saturday.

The Tigers head to Franklin's Gardens with a seven-point buffer in the play-off zone above closest challengers Sale Sharks after they crushed Exeter last weekend.

Saints, though, will be on the rebound following their defeat against Sale last time out, a result which saw them lose top spot to title rivals Saracens.

"As much as the rivalry is intense, we know Saints are a good club," Leicester rugby director Richard Cockerill said.

"They have been in good form this season, they are in a good spot in the league and we need to go there and throw everything at them.

"It's a big game for everyone, but they are the ones you look forward to playing in.

"The performance against Exeter last week was a real positive and it was obviously important to get the maximum points, but we won't be getting carried away. We know where we need to be better."

Saracens, fresh from crushing Harlequins at Wembley last Saturday, visit Wasps on Saturday as they close in on a home play-off.

Wasps needed a converted injury-time try to defeat relegation favourites Worcester seven days ago, and Saracens' Adams Park visit will provide a stern test.

"Saracens will provide us with a very different set of problems this Saturday, and they will be on a high, coming into the game off the back of a good win over Harlequins," Wasps rugby director David Young said.

"For us, the game is all about getting back to playing the kind of rugby we know we are capable of and getting back into our stride with some big games coming up as we go into the final part of the season."

Elsewhere on Saturday, Harlequins host London Irish, while LV= Cup final winners Exeter will aim to bounce back from their mauling against the Tigers when Gloucester arrive at Sandy Park.

"It was definitely a wake-up call for us," Exeter boss Rob Baxter said.

"The LV= Cup was fantastic for us, and yes we should enjoy it and we should remember it. At the same time, we need to remember there are still some very important games left for us.

"We have talked this week about making the most of every minute in every game between now and the end of the season. We think we have a nice run-in with three games at home and two away.

"Yes, we are aware Gloucester are a good side and that they have scored a lot of points in the last couple of weeks.

"They are like us - they like the sun on their backs and the firm grounds - and we've had some cracking fixtures with them over the years.

"As I said, we know they are dangerous, so we have to be firing at our best to get a result against them."

Gloucester are currently two points behind Exeter in the Premiership, and the Cherry and Whites' rugby director Nigel Davies said: "Exeter have a great reputation, they play a good brand of rugby and they are well respected.

"But they are only two points ahead of us, that's all, and that represents a big opportunity for us at the weekend.

"They came to Kingsholm earlier in the season and put in a good performance to be fair to them, but Saturday is all about making sure that we get ourselves right.

"They said after the (Leicester) game that it had been a bit of a wake-up call for them, so I am sure we will see a different team at the weekend."

Sunday's Premiership action, meanwhile, sees a basement battle at Kingston Park, where bottom club Worcester tackle 11th-placed Newcastle.

Worcester are 12 points behind the Falcons with just five games left, meaning that defeat on Tyneside would effectively seal their fate.

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