Preview: Northampton v Worcester

Date published: September 21 2012

Worcester Warriors make the trip across the Midlands to face Northampton at Franklin's Gardens in the Aviva Premiership on Saturday.

James Wilson will make his Northampton Saints debut in Saturday's Aviva Premiership clash with Worcester.

The versatile New Zealander gets his chance in the number fifteen jersey as Ben Foden is facing up to 12 weeks out injured.

Wilson, who arrived at Franklin's Gardens from Bourgoin, is joined in the Saints XV by the fit-again Courtney Lawes.

The England lock returns to action to make his first start since February.

Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder says his Saints team will have to “step things up” if they are to continue their winning ways.

The Saints host the Warriors on the back of three successive Aviva Premiership wins. But with Worcester having shown their competitiveness in their own matches, Mallinder knows more is needed from the men in black, green and gold.

“We've won our first three games, which is good, but there has been plenty to work on ahead of Saturday's game,” he said.

“We've gone ahead in games and then let the other team back in, which is something we've got to stop doing, especially in such a tight competition like the Aviva Premiership.

“Worcester have played some good rugby in their first three games, and have been very competitive. Richard Hill has brought some good players in and it's going to be a difficult game for us.

“We've got to look at our own performance and to step things up if we're going to continue our good start.”

Meanwhile, giant number eight Semisi Taulava has been recalled to the Worcester's starting line-up for the Warriors trip across the Midlands.

Taulava, a summer recruit from Rotherham Titans, has impressed since making the step up to the English elite and is the only change by head coach Richard Hill to the side that drew the derby with Gloucester last weekend.

Form: Northampton Saints maintained their 100% winning start to the new Aviva Premiership Rugby campaign with their 18-14 victory at Bath on Friday. The Saints lost just twice at Franklin's Gardens in the Premiership last season – to London Irish in September and Leicester in April. Worcester Warriors halted their run of six successive defeats with their 16-all draw at home to Gloucester, but the Warriors have still only won once on the road in the competition since April 2009: 6-0 at Wasps on New Year's Day 2012. The two Aviva Premiership Rugby fixtures between the sides last season were both won by the home side on the day, whilst the Warriors have not been victorious at Franklin's Gardens since 1 January 2007.

The teams:

Northampton: 15 James Wilson, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 George Pisi, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 Vasily Artemyev, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 Rhys Oakley, 7 Phil Dowson, 6 Courtney Lawes, 5 Christian Day, 4 Samu Manoa, 3 Paul Doran Jones, 2 Dylan Hartley (c), 1 Soane Tonga'uiha.
Replacements: 16 Mike Haywood, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Brian Mujati, 19 Mark Sorenson, 20 Tom Wood, 21 Martin Roberts, 22 Ryan Lamb, 23 Dom Waldouck.

Worcester: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Nikki Walker, 13 Alex Grove, 12 Joe Carlisle, 11 David Lemi, 10 Andy Goode, 9 Shaun Perry, 8 Semisi Taulava, 7 Sam Betty, 6 Chris Jones, 5 Dean Schofield (c), 4 James Percival, 3 John Andress, 2 Aleki Lutui, 1 Matt Mullan.
Replacements: 16 Ollie Hayes, 17 Ceri Jones, 18 James Currie, 19 Craig Gillies, 20 Matt Kvesic, 21 Jonny Arr, 22 Josh Matavesi, 23 Josh Drauniniu.

Date: Saturday, September 22
Kick-off: 15:00 BST
Venue: Franklin's Gardens
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth
Assistant referees: Stuart Terheege, Peter Huckle
Timekeeper: Tony Turner