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Will Carpenter

Will Carpenter writes

Posted Friday, September 28th 2018

Preview: Bristol Bears vs Northampton Saints

Bristol Bears will be looking to make it three league wins in a row at Ashton Gate when Chris Boyd's Northampton Saints arrive in BS3 for Saturday's Gallagher Premiership clash. 

Saints were edged out by Bath at the Recreation Ground last weekend, with Dan Biggar's last-gasp conversion from Tom Collins' try striking the post to give the hosts a 17-15 win. They will be looking to end a run of two straight defeats, having been beaten by Saracens at Allianz Park the week before. 

Here's your big match preview ahead of Saturday's clash:


Last time out:

Northampton Saints 32-26 Bristol Rugby - Sat, 7th Jan 2017 - Franklin's Gardens

A late Northampton surge denied Bristol Rugby a third straight Aviva Premiership win as they were edged out 32-26 at Franklin's Gardens.

Jason Woodward led the way for Mark Tainton's side with a 21-point haul - four penalties, two conversions and one of the tries of the season - while Mitch Eadie touched down early in the first half. But they couldn't quite shift a powerful Saints side, who crossed four times through Tom Wood, Louis Picamoles, JJ Hanrahan and Mikey Haywood for a bonus-point win.


Head-to-head:

Piers O'Conor

O'Conor has been a revelation in the number 15 shirt since making his Premiership debut against Saracens at Allianz Park.

The 22-year-old, who signed from Ealing Trailfinders during the summer, opened his account for Bristol Bears during last weekend's victory over Harlequins, and will be looking to continue his fine form when the Saints come calling on Saturday. 

Ahsee Tuala

Since joining Saints, Tuala has notched up over a half century of Premiership appearances, scoring a try on his debut in the Anglo-Welsh Cup against Wasps.

He received the Saints’ Supporters Breakthrough Player of the Year award for his performances in 2016/17, and he would feature heavily the following season too – with 27 appearances in all competitions and seven tries.

The powerhouse full-back poses a big threat to Bristol Bears. 


Siale Piutau

The Tongan captain has been a rock in the Bristol Bears midfield so far this season, featuring at both inside and outside centre during the opening four rounds of the Gallagher Premiership. 

Piutau has been 33 carries and 24 tackles already this season, and will be called into action again on Saturday against a dangerous Saints side. 

Piers Francis

Ball playing centre, Piers Francis - who can also operate at fly half - was called into the England squad for the 2017 tour of Argentina, making his debut from the bench in the first Test and creating one try before scoring another.

After signing for Saints in the Premiership, the 28-year-old made his debut against Gloucester Rugby in October 2017 and has proved to be a vital cog in the Saints machine. 


Word from the camps:

Pat Lam

“They are a well-rounded side. There’s a lot of past and present internationals, some of them are out training with England today, so they are dangerous if we allow them to play their game.

“We’ve got to be on the money and that’s what we’re working on today and for the rest of the training week.”

Jamie Gibson

“Confidence and momentum is massive in rugby, and Bristol have come off a good win at the weekend.

"They're are a dangerous side, and they’ve shown this season that when they get things right and other people get it wrong they can cause a lot of problems."


Form guide:

Bristol Bears got back to winning ways with a 20-13 victory over Harlequins at Ashton Gate last Saturday, following back-to-back away defeats at Saracens and Gloucester.

Northampton will be looking to end a two-game losing run when they arrive in BS3 on Saturday, having gone down to successive away defeats at Saracens and Bath.

Bristol Bears have not beaten Northampton Saints for more than ten years, with Saturday’s visitors winning the last five meetings between the sides since 2008.

Pat Lam’s side are unbeaten at Ashton Gate since March, and every one of their games during the 2018/19 Gallagher Premiership season have been won by the home side.

Bristol Bears are also the only side in the division to have been leading at half-time in each of their league games so far this season.

Bristol Bears: LLW
Northampton Saints: WLL


Weather forecast

Met Office says: 

After a cold and frosty start to the morning, it will be another fine and dry day with long sunny spells. Maximum temperature 17 °C.


How to buy tickets:

Tickets are available to purchase online now by clicking here, or via supporter services on 0117 963 0600.