Leicester Tigers v Northampton Saints: Johnson expects thriller

Martin Johnson is expecting East Midlands rivals Leicester Tigers and Northampton Saints to produce a "cracking" Premiership final

Martin Johnson is expecting East Midlands rivals Leicester Tigers and Northampton Saints to produce a “cracking” Premiership final – and the World Cup winner believes the side that better deals with the occasion will emerge triumphant.

Johnson, a five-time Premiership winner during his playing days with the Tigers, recalled losing in his final appearance for the club as London Wasps claimed the title despite Johnson’s men having beaten them three times during the regular season.

And the former England captain and head coach points to that factor as a reason why this year’s showpiece is too tough to call.

It is the ninth consecutive season the Tigers have reached the final, but it will be their only time so far against the Saints, who are appearing at this stage for the very first time.

“Leicester have been in a lot of consecutive finals and Northampton a lot of semi-finals so to get those two in a final at Twickenham is going to be fantastic for the East Midlands,” said Johnson, speaking while promoting Prudential RideLondon FreeCycle, an eight-mile bike ride through London during which he will take part in a Guinness World Record attempt.

“Saracens topped the league but it then gets to one-off games which I think is great because to win a European [title], or a World Cup, or Grand Slams, you have got to win those big one-off games.

“Once you get to a final, as you saw last year Quins turned up and played very well and deserved to win – you have got to now produce one last big game to win it.

“Neither side will want to lose to the other in that final so it should be a cracking game.

“My last game was a final and we went behind and ended up getting heavily beaten by a team we had beaten three times that year so anything can happen on any given day – you have to be able to deal with it and find a way to win.”

Prudential RideLondon FreeCycle will take place on an eight-mile route in central London on Saturday 3 August 2013. For more information please visit www.prudentialridelondon.co.uk

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