French raiders can up their game in playoff.
NORTHAMPTON v STADE FRANCAIS Sky Sports 2, 7.45pm By Graham Woods NORTHAMPTON are odds-on to claim the last remaining place in next season's European Champions Cup with victory over Stade Francais at Franklin's Gardens but they are facing a journey into the unknown.
The two seasoned European campaigners have never met before, and the Saints don't know which Stade side they will face - the one who performed so meekly on the road in domestic competition or the one who battled to victory in the European Challenge Cup earlier this month.
Stade have struggled on their travels in all competitions this season but their home form was enough to get them to the knockout stages of the Challenge Cup. At that stage they stepped on the gas with an impressive victory over Ospreys in Cardiff and against Gloucester in the final in Edinburgh.
Skipper Sergio Parisse and France lock Pascal Pape are out but Australia's Will Genia returns at scrum half and the visitors still have the players to claim victory at Franklin's Gardens. The spur of European success may be just what is needed to push their performances up a gear.
Northampton have victories over Montpellier and Castres in the Champions Cup this season in their credit column but they were unconvincing in their semi-final win over a depleted Connacht side last week.
A two-point victory over Harlequins on the final day of the Premiership season ended a run of four consecutive league defeats for the Saints.
However, their campaign has been sagging at the death while Stade still have fire in their bellies and at the prices it's worth backing the French side to show their true selves on the road once more.
Recommendation Stade Francais 1pt 7-4 Betway