Preview: Wasps v Northampton

Date published: April 1 2016

Wasps, currently in third place on the Premiership table, welcome fourth positioned Northampton Saints – who are seven points behind the home side – to the Ricoh Arena on Sunday.

Matt Mullan again captains the side, while Wales international Bradley Davies returns to Wasps’ starting line-up, following a week’s rest after the Six 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 number eight 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.

Meanwhile, Northampton have made four changes for this week’s clash, bonus-point 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 forwards and Sam Dickinson’s introduction at number eight sees Teimana Harrison and skipper for the day Tom Wood shuffle around the back-row.

Form: Wasps have tallied maximum points from each of their last three matches with their only defeat in Premiership Rugby since early January coming at Gloucester in round 15. Wasps have not lost at Ricoh Arena in any tournament in 2016. Saints only loss in the last five rounds of Premiership rugby was at Exeter on March 20. Wasps beat Saints 24-11 at Franklin’s Gardens in round ten and have not achieved a season’s Premiership double over the East Midlanders since season 2004/05. Saints 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.

The teams:

Wasps: 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

Northampton: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 George Pisi, 12 Harry Mallinder, 11 George North, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Kahn Fotuali’i, 8 Sam Dickinson, 7 Teimana Harrison, 6 Tom Wood (c), 5 Christian Day, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Mikey Haywood, 1 Alex Waller
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

Date: Sunday, April 3
Venue: Ricoh Arena
Kick-off: 15:00 BST (14:00 GMT)
Referee: Luke Pearce
Assistant Referees: Andrew Jackson, Robin Goodliffe
TMO: Geoff Warren