THEY say the key to good comedy is timing and Tom Wood insists the same applies to rugby as the Northampton Saints find themselves just 80 minutes away from lifting the Aviva Premiership trophy.
With every passing season it is almost a given that Leicester Tigers will feature at the end-of-season Twickenham showpiece – tomorrow will be their ninth straight final appearance.
Saints on the other hand are set to make their bow and have gone about it the hard way, squeezing into the fourth and final play-off spot, before inflicting Saracens’ first defeat at their new Allianz Park home.
Northampton remain underdogs, but flanker Wood believes the Saints’ end-of-season form proves they should not be discounted.
“On balance, on the course of the season, perhaps we don’t deserve to be in the final given that we’ve qualified fourth,” said Wood, who is preparing to captain England on their summer tour.
“We’ve perhaps not played our best rugby but our performance against Saracens and knowing the quality and the bad luck we’ve had in previous years, we feel like it is our time and we can compete with anyone.
“Hopefully we are timing our run perfectly. Maybe we have just been lulling everyone into a false sense of security all year and we are just timing it right.
“That has been what has happened in previous years. We’ve actually got our timing quite poor in recent years.
“We’ve played a lot of good rugby at the start of the year and come out of the blocks and taken the Premiership by storm in the first few weeks and then we’ve run out of steam and in the end fallen at the final hurdle.
“But if it works the other way round this year, if everyone’s written us off, we’ve not played our best rugby but we start to really build and finish on a high then perhaps that’s one that we deserve.”
Although Leicester have reached the last eight finals, they have only won on three of those occasions, losing the last two.
However the Tigers, who have the chance to become English champions for a record 10th time, appear to be peaking at the right moment, having lost just one Aviva Premiership match since February.
The Aviva Premiership Rugby Final 2013 is sold out. The game is exclusively live on ESPN at 3pm on 25 May, with radio coverage on 5 Live and talkSPORT and extended highlights on ITV4 at 11pm tomorrow. Join the conversation on Twitter by using #AvivaPremFinal