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Northampton Saints have named a team with four changes to play Wasps at the Ricoh Arena in the Aviva Premiership
Following the five-point win over Harlequins Saints visit a Wasps side one spot higher in the Aviva Premiership.
In the centres, bonus try scorer Harry Mallinder wears 12, while Kahn Fotuali’i also comes into the backline at scrum-half.
Second row Christian Day takes his place in the engine room and Sam Dickinson’s introduction at 8 sees Teimana Harrison and skipper for the day Tom Wood shuffle around the back row.
Wasps have tallied maximum points from each of their last three matches with their only defeat in Aviva Premiership Rugby since early January coming at Gloucester in round 15.
Wasps have not lost at Ricoh Arena in any tournament in 2016. Northampton Saints only loss in the last five rounds of Aviva Premiership rugby was at Exeter on 20th March.
Wasps beat Northampton 24-11 at Franklin’s Gardens in round 10 and have not achieved a season’s Aviva Premiership Rugby double over the East Midlanders since season 2004/05.
Northampton have visited Ricoh Arena twice before, both for semi-finals, losing on both occasions, to Wasps in the Champions Cup in 2007 and to Cardiff Blues in the Anglo-Welsh cup two years later.
Wasps’ Director of Rugby Dai Young named Matt Mullan as team captain again while Welsh international Bradley Davies returns to Wasps’ starting line-up, following a week’s rest after the RBS 6 Nations.
Davies forms the second row partnership with Joe Launchbury, while replacement lock Kearnan Myall is set to make his 150th Premiership appearance.
In the back row, Nathan Hughes starts at no.8 alongside George Smith and Thomas Young, with returning internationals James Haskell and Lorenzo Cittadini ready to provide reinforcement from the bench.
Craig Hampson, who impressed on his Premiership debut last weekend against Newcastle Falcons, starts at scrum half in place of Dan Robson, who misses out through injury. The only other change in the backline sees Frank Halai return on the wing.
Wasps’ Director of Rugby Dai Young said: “Sunday’s match will have huge significance in how it’s going to finish in the table.
“If we can get a win, it would open up a bit of a gap and put a bit of pressure on other teams behind us to try to squeeze us out of the top four. A win for Northampton, would see them breathing right down our necks, with momentum behind them as we hit the final run-in.
“Saints are a really strong side, who are again timing their run well. I’m sure they will want to set the record straight after our win at Franklin’s Gardens earlier in the season and will throw everything at us on Sunday, so we need to be ready and at our absolute best. At this stage of the season, every point won or lost could prove critical.”
Match : Wasps v Northampton Saints
Date : Sunday 3 April
Venue : Ricoh Arena,
Kick Off : 3pm
Live on: BT Sport
Referee :Luke Pearce (49th Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Andrew Jackson & Robin Goodliffe.
TMO: Geoff Warren.
15. Rob Miller , 14. Christian Wade , 13. Elliot Daly , 12. Siale Piutau , 11. Frank Halai , 10. Jimmy Gopperth , 9. Craig Hampson , 8. Nathan Hughes , 7. George Smith , 6. Thomas Young , 5. Bradley Davies, 4. Joe Launchbury, 3. Jake Cooper-Woolley , 2. Ashley Johnson, 1. Matt Mullan (c)
Replacements : 16. Carlo Festuccia , 17. Simon McIntyre , 18. Lorenzo Cittadini , 19. Kearnan Myall , 20. James Haskell , 21. Jamie Stevenson , 22. Ruaridh Jackson , 23. Sailosi Tagicakibau
15 Ben Foden , 14 Ken Pisi , 13 George Pisi , 12 Harry Mallinder , 11 George North , 10 Stephen Myler , 9 Kahn Fotuali’i , 1 Alex Waller , 2 Mikey Haywood , 3 Kieran Brookes , 4 Courtney Lawes , 5 Christian Day , 6 Tom Wood (capt) , 7 Teimana Harrison , 8 Sam Dickinson
Replacements : 16 Reece Marshall , 17 Campese Ma’afu , 18 Paul Hill , 19 James Craig , 20 Jon Fisher , 21 Lee Dickson , 22 JJ Hanrahan , 23 Tom Collins
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