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Mallinder: It's a challenging start for Saints

Travis PerkinsSponsored by Travis Perkins

Premiership Rugby have announced the 2012.13 fixture weekends, and for the first time in over five years the Saints will open their campaign away from home with a trip to Kingsholm to play Gloucester.

Franklin's Gardens will see its first Aviva Premiership Rugby action of the season in Round 2 with Exeter Chiefs the visitors. There are two more home fixtures in the opening six rounds against Worcester Warriors (Round 4) and London Wasps (Round 5), with trips to Bath and London Irish also coming before the first Heineken Cup break.


Rounds 7 and 8 both catch the eye - Saracens at home and Leicester away respectively - with Aviva Premiership Rugby new boys London Welsh making their first trip to the Gardens in over five years in Round 9.


"It is a challenging start to the season for us," he said. "Gloucester, Bath and London Irish all have new coaching teams in place and we won't know until the start of the season whether there will be any changes to the way those teams play. Meanwhile both Worcester and Wasps have brought in new players and improved their squads, and Exeter have established themselves as one of the top clubs in the Premiership.


"The following four weeks - with two Heineken Cup games followed by Saracens and Leicester in successive Premiership rounds - will also pose us plenty of challenges.


"However the first weekend in September is a long way off and at the moment we are concentrating on getting the most out of pre-season."


The only way for supporters to guarantee their place at all the big matches in 2012/13 is with a Season Ticket. Prices start from just £178 for juniors, £189 for concessions and £301 for adults and represent an average pro rate saving of 30% compared to the standard ticket price.


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The fixture weekends in full are:


ROUND DATE OPPO VENUE

1 Aug 31-Sept 2 Gloucester Kingsholm

2 Sept 7-9 Exeter Chiefs Franklin's Gardens

3 Sept 14-16 Bath Recreation Ground

4 Sept 21-23 Worcester Warriors Franklin's Gardens

5 Sept 28-30 London Wasps Franklin's Gardens

6 Oct 5-7 London Irish Madejski Stadium

Oct 12-14 Heineken Cup R1

Oct 19-21 Heineken Cup R2

7 Oct 26-28 Saracens Franklin's Gardens

8 Nov 2-4 Leicester Tigers Welford Road

Nov 9-11 LV= Cup R1

Nov 16-18 LV= Cup R2

9 Nov 23-25 London Welsh Franklin's Gardens

10 Nov 30-Dec 2 Sale Sharks Salford City Stadium

Dec 7-9 Heineken Cup R3

Dec 14-16 Heineken Cup R4

11 Dec 21-23 Harlequins Franklin's Gardens

12 Dec 28-30 Saracens TBC

13 Jan 4-6 Exeter Chiefs Sandy Park

Jan 11-13 Heineken Cup R5

Jan 18-20 Heineken Cup R6

Jan 25-27 LV= Cup R3

Feb 1-3 LV= Cup R4

14 Feb 8-10 Gloucester Franklin's Gardens

15 Feb 15-17 Worcester Warriors Sixways

16 Feb 22-24 Bath Franklin's Gardens

17 Mar 1-3 London Irish Franklin's Gardens

18 Mar 22-24 London Wasps Adams Park

19 Mar 29-31 Leicester Tigers Franklin's Gardens

20 Apr 12-14 London Welsh Kassam Stadium

21 Apr 19-21 Sale Sharks Franklin's Gardens

22 May 4 Harlequins Twickenham Stoop

Fixture dates are subject to confirmation by Premiership Rugby's partner TV broadcasters. Rounds 1-8 will be confirmed on Wednesday, July 11th.


It has also been confirmed that the Saints Sevens squad will face London Welsh in the second leg of the 2012 JP Morgan Asset Management Premiership Rugby Sevens Series, being held at Edgeley Park on Friday, July 20th.


The Saints will also play Sale Sharks and Leicester Tigers in what will be the last ever rugby event staged at Edgeley Park before Sale move to the Salford City Stadium ahead of the Aviva Premiership Rugby season.