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Saints expecting spicy Leicester affair

Northampton celebrate Tom Wood's try, Northampton Saints v Leicester Tigers, Aviva Premiership, Franklin's Gardens, May 16, 2014 Getty Images

Northampton broke Leicester hearts in last season's Aviva Premiership play-offs - and Saints boss Jim Mallinder believes the Tigers will be "hurting" ahead of Saturday's showdown at Franklin's Gardens.

The dramatic 21-20 victory for Northampton, which was secured by a late Tom Wood try, ended Leicester's run of appearing in every Premiership final since 2004.

Northampton marched on to Twickenham, where they beat Saracens in similarly dramatic circumstances to be crowned English champions for the first time, and victory this weekend would guarantee they lead the Premiership heading into Christmas.

"It is going to be massive again," Mallinder said. "Leicester have had a few sort of ups and downs a little bit this season, but generally they are getting back up there, they are playing well, they have got lots of players back and we know that games against Leicester are good spicy affairs."

While Tigers will arrive in the hotbed of an East Midlands derby following back-to-back European Champions Cup games against Toulon, Saints hardly broke sweat in racking up more than 100 points at Italian side Treviso's expense.

Mallinder, though, does not believe such contrasting derby build-ups will have any bearing on their fierce rivals' latest meeting.

"Sometimes, it can help you in that you are playing at that level and intensity, but I think all our players are used to it," Mallinder added.

"They play in enough big games over the season, and we are going into it in good shape. We have got a good fit squad. What a cracking game it was last time [against Leicester].

"It was so close and could have gone either way, so they will be hurting, but we also remember they've had the better record against us over the past few outings. We won the last one, but generally they've done the job on us."

England lock Courtney Lawes, who signed a new Northampton contract this week, said: "It is a local derby, and all the boys know it's going to be ferocious. It's always exciting.

"It is the first time we have played them since last season's semi-final. They will be ready to get some revenge on us, and we have to be ready for that."