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Rupert Wyman 19th Mar 2010 - 15:33

The start of a dream treble for Northampton?

The Northampton Saints are praying that they can complete the treble this season and on Sunday they can win the first of three possible trophies as they take on Gloucester in the LV= Cup final.

Northampton are riding high in the Guinness Premiership, just two points behind the leaders Leicester Tigers and they are England's sole representatives in the Heineken Cup quarter-finals.

The Saints are quite rightly the favourites at 4/11 to lift the trophy and 2/5 to win the match. The Saints should be able to oblige as they will be able to take advantage of Gloucester missing numerous players through Six Nations call-ups and injuries.

Jim Mallinder's side are also without some of their star players most notably the Premiership's top try scorer Chris Ashton and the exciting Ben Foden who are both in action for England in the Six Nations.

Quite why the game's administrators feel it is a good idea that a big domestic cup final should be played on the same weekend as the final Six Nations matches is only something they can answer.

It leaves a shadow over the final but both sides will still see it as a fantastic opportunity to win a trophy.

Northampton are an amazing 20 points ahead of Gloucester in the Premiership table so it is no surprise they are so fancied to triumph in Worcester. They are also a side bang in form having won three in a row including last week's 31-20 victory over Saracens in the semi-final.

However, Gloucester have shown signs of improvement in recent weeks. They have lost just two of their last 10 in all competitions and impressed as they defeated the defending champions, the Cardiff Blues, 29-18 in the Welsh capital last week.

The main handicap line gives the Cherry and Whites a six-point start and with both sides at 10/11 it is Bryan Redpath's side I would sooner be on. They have the consistent Nicky Robinson at fly-half who should keep the scoreboard ticking over, thus enabling the West Country side to keep in touch with the Saints.

Northampton's free-flowing rugby should see them home but I think that with Robinson's goal kicking and the flair of James Simpson-Daniel on the wing Gloucester can win on the handicap.

Simpson-Daniel scored a hat-trick against the Blues and he is priced at 11/1 first or 5/2 anytime to follow that up with another try against the Saints.

Despite this I believe that it will be Northampton celebrating on Sunday as they begin their accumulation of trophies as they bid for an historic treble.



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