Wasps v Northampton Saints Premiership Preview

Northampton Saints have made three changes to the team that beat Leinster in the Heineken Cup last weekend for this week’s Aviva Premiership match against London Wasps.

Director of rugby Jim Mallinder and the coaches have made three straight swaps between the bench and the starting 15, with Kahn Fotuali’i, Mike Haywood and Sam Dickinson coming in for Lee Dickson, Dylan Hartley and Courtney Lawes respectively.

Dickinson’s introduction sees Samu Manoa move up to the second row, and with Hartley on the bench it falls to Tom Wood to captain the side.

London Wasps have won their last three matches in all tournaments since their 5-28 home reversal to Bath in Aviva Premiership Rugby on 24th November.

The Londoners have won just two of their last six Premiership home games played at Adams Park – against Worcester and Leicester.

Northampton Saints have lost just one of their last nine fixtures in all tournaments: 7-40 at home to Leinster in the European Cup on 7th December.

The Saints’ only away defeat in the Premiership this season came at Gloucester, 24-26, in round 3. Northampton have won their last eight fixtures against their hosts since Wasps were last victorious 20- 15 at Adams Park in the Premiership on 4th October 2009.

Ashley Johnson returns to the Wasps starting lineup for this weekend’s game after three weeks on the sidelines.

He is joined in the back row by Sam Jones at eight and James Haskell on the openside. In front of them is the familiar pairing of Tom Palmer and Joe Launchbury while the front row is made up of Matt Mullan, Carlo Festuccia and Jake Cooper-Woolley.

In the backs Charlie Davies and Andy Goode return to fitness and start at nine and ten respectively, while Charlie Hayter and Chris Bell partner in midfield. The back three sees Tom Varndell start in his second game since returning from injury, with Will Helu on the other wing and Elliot Daly at fullback.

Director of Rugby Dai Young said “We are going into the weekend’s game on the back of three good wins but the game on Saturday will provide us another challenge. “

“Northampton are probably the in-form side in the Aviva Premiership and we know where they will be strong. We have to match that head on and be very clinical in everything we do. We are striving for consistency and that is what we need this weekend.”

Match : London Wasps v Northampton Saints
Date : Saturday 21st December
Venue : Adams Park,
Kick Off : 3pm
Live on: N/A
Match Officials
Referee
: Matthew Carley (6th Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Ashley Rowden and Peter Huckle
TMO: David Sainsbury.

Teams

London Wasps

15. Elliot Daly , 14. Will Helu , 13. Chris Bell (c) , 12. Charlie Hayter , 11. Tom Varndell , 10. Andy Goode , 9. Charlie Davies , 1. Matt Mullan , 2. Carlo Festuccia , 3. Jake Cooper-Woolley , 4. Tom Palmer , 5. Joe Launchbury , 6. Ashley Johnson , 7. James Haskell , 8. Sam Jones

Replacements : 16. Tom Lindsay , 17. Taione Vea , 18. Phil Swainston , 19. James Cannon , 20. Guy Thompson , 21. Joe Simpson , 22. Joe Carlisle , 23. Andrew Suniula

Northampton Saints

15 Ken Pisi, 14 Jamie Elliott, 13 George North, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 Tom Collins, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Kahn Fotuali’i, 8 Sam Dickinson, 7 Tom Wood (c), 6 Calum Clark, 5 Christian Day, 4 Samu Manoa, 3 Salesi Ma’afu, 2 Mike Haywood, 1 Alex Waller

Replacements: 16 Dylan Hartley, 17 Ethan Waller, 18 Tom Mercey, 19 Courtney Lawes, 20 Phil Dowso

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