Preview: Ospreys v Northampton

Date published: January 16 2015

The Ospreys have done Northampton no favours in their team selection in what should be a pulsating Champions Cup game at the Liberty Stadium.

The Welsh region’s hopes of qualification are slim but they will not go down wondering what might have been as head coach Steve Tandy names Rhys Webb, Dan Biggar and plenty more talent in his XV.

Dan Lydiate is ruled out so in comes James King on the blindside while last week’s scorer Tyler Ardron continues at number eight this weekend.

The Ospreys currently sit on eight points after four matches, six behind Racing Metro and seven off Northampton Saints with two rounds remaining.

Meanwhile, Northampton make six changes from last weekend – a quintet of those in the forwards – as the final block of European Champions Cup pool fixtures begin.

It is an entirely new front-row, returning skipper Dylan Hartley flanked by Alex Waller and Gareth Denman on the loose and tighthead respectively, while Christian Day is fit again and back in the second row for the Round 5 clash.

The final change up front comes at number eight, Samu Manoa making his return to the starting XV, while Ken Pisi’s introduction is on the right wing is the solitary alteration among the backs.

Form: Ospreys lost 18-14 away to Racing Metro in their last European clash but currently sit at the top of the Pro12 standings following last week’s 22-11 win over the Dragons. Saints beat Treviso 67-0 in Round Four but were beaten 20-7 by Sale in the Premiership last week. Northampton Saints have won on their last four trips to Wales, with their most recent win on Welsh soil coming in last season’s competition against the Ospreys. Ospreys are winless in eight home matches against English sides; losing seven. Ospreys’ loss to Northampton last season represents their largest home defeat to an English team.

The teams:

Ospreys: 15 Daniel Evans, 14 Aisea Natoga, 13 Ashley Beck, 12 Josh Matavesi, 11 Eli Walker, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Rhys Webb, 8 Tyler Ardron, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 James King, 5 Alun-Wyn Jones (c), 4 Rynier Bernardo, 3 Aaron Jarvis, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Marc Thomas.
Replacements: 16 Sam Parry, 17 Gareth Thomas, 18 Dmitri Arhip, 19 Morgan Allen, 20 Sam Lewis, 21 Martin Roberts, 22 Sam Davies, 23 Hanno Dirksen.

Northampton Saints: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 George Pisi, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 George North, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 Samu Manoa, 7 Calum Clark, 6 Tom Wood, 5 Christian Day, 4 Sam Dickinson, 3 Gareth Denman, 2 Dylan Hartley (c), 1 Alex Waller.
Replacements: 16 Mikey Haywood, 17 Ethan Waller, 18 Alex Corbisiero, 19 Phil Dowson, 20 Teimana Harrison, 21 Joel Hodgson, 22 James Wilson, 23 Jamie Elliott.

Date: Sunday, 18 January
Venue: Liberty Stadium, Swansea
Kick-off: 17:30 (GMT)
Referee: Jerome Garces (France)
Assistant referees: Patrick Pechambert (France); Jonathan Gasnier (France)