Agonising disappointment will be a familiar emotion for Northampton fans.
After three consecutive exits in the play-off semi-finals and losing the Heineken Cup final in 2011, the Saints’ have come so tantalizingly close to glory in recent years without actually managing to get their hands on a trophy.
They now have an opportunity to make amends after seeing off Saracens 27-13 in an impressive semi-final win to set up a tie with Leicester Tigers in the Grand Final and they are 15/8 to lift the trophy.
Northampton will go into the game as underdogs and will need to improve dramatically on the performance that saw them lose 36-8 against the Tigers in March.
The underdog tag seems to be something that the Saints are relishing and in particular, captain Dylan Hartley is keen to shut the doubters up:
“We’re just trying to prove people wrong. There’s so much motivation. We’ve got lads leaving the club, we’ve got the underdog tag and we’ve had an up-and-down season. I expect our desire to be there and everyone in the team is the same. In fact, I guarantee it’ll be there.”
Hartley is the only Saints player to have been selected for the upcoming Lions tour, while Leicester have six tourists. In an interesting sub-plot, Hartley will face off against opposite number Tom Youngs in a bid to prove his superiority before heading to Australia.
“If I go well against him, I’ll put my hand up in front of the Lions coaches. It’s a chance to push myself forward. I think a few people believe I’m in that squad as the third hooker, but everyone has their time in the sun and I’m here for the long game.”
The Tigers, who finished second in the regular season, were equally impressive in their 33-16 semi-final demolition of Harlequins, are 2/5 to lift the cup. Quins were unable to get over the line for 76 minutes such was the defensive display of the Tigers while Matthew Tait’s try typified their expansive and exciting attacking play.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.