After the exciting climax on Boxing Day to the clash at Ashton Gate between Bristol and leaders Leicester Tigers who won right at the end to make it 10 victories on the trot in the Gallagher Premiership, a massive crowd will turn up at Twickenham this afternoon for the Big Game involving Harlequins and Northampton Saints as Guy Williams reports:
Don’t be surprised if the gate is more than 70,000 as rugby’s famous stadium is packed to watch what should be an entertaining game between fourth(Northampton Saints) and Quins,just one point behind (29) in fifth.
Given that both teams like to attack and play free flowing rugby, a thrilling match is in prospect, but it’s hard to say who is the favourite.
Bearing in mind that Northampton have won their last two games in the Premiership..wins against previous champions Exeter and Saracens..they may just be tipped to come out on top again and we’ll take a chance on them at 21/10 with Betfred.
As regards Quins, sadly without England fly half Marcus Smith because of Covid, they’ve suffered back to back defeats against London Irish and Leicester Tigers, but with plenty of star players, such as forwards Joe Marler and Alex Dombrandt in the pack, and Louis Lynagh and Danny Care in the backs, they’re quite capable of overturning Saints who’ve lost on their last three visits to Twickenham.
Fans this afternoon have the opportunity to see two of the biggest names in international rugby playing for the Saints..England forward Courtney Lawes, capped more than 80 times, and a current British and Irish Lion who played in all three Tests against South Africa in the summer, and Wales fly half Dan Biggar,93 caps for his country and another current Lion who also appeared in the three internationals in Cape Town during July and August.
The importance of this afternoon’s match..kicking off at 17.00..can be seen by the appointment of one of the world’s top referees..Wayne Barnes..to officiate.
He’ll be in charge of teams with similar records in the Gallagher Premiership so far: Saints have won six from nine while Quins have been victorious in five games from nine.
While from a betting point of view, some rugby games are easy to predict..for example,you would have expected Saracens to beat Worcester Warriors on Boxing Day comfortably, as they did by 61-29, but this afternoon’s Big Game is much more difficult.
One thing for sure is that it should be fun to watch, the final result will be close and the huge crowd should have plenty to talk about over a few pints.
It’s a blow to Quins that such a major player as Marcus Smith is absent, but it’s expected that the fly half will be fit again to resume playing on Sunday January 2nd against Gloucester at Kingsholm.