Planet Rugby

Preview: Northampton v London Welsh

23rd November 2012 10:27

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jim mallinder northampton saints

Mallinder: Won't take Welsh lightly

Saints boss Jim Mallinder wants his side to build on their recent LV= Cup success in Newport when they host London Welsh at Franklin's Gardens.

Saturday's league game is the first time that Northampton and Welsh have met in the top flight, although the two did cross paths during the Saints' Championship season of 2007/08.

Welsh have been one of the Premiership's most competitive newcomers, winning nearly half their matches, and Mallinder said that the Saints needed to treat them with plenty of respect.

"London Welsh have been very competitive this season and we will not be taking them lightly," he commented.

"They have players with the experience and ability to take advantage if we make a mistake, and with Lyn Jones they have a coach who has been around the game for a long time.

"However we are in good spirits coming into tomorrow's game and training has been positive this week.

"Of course things have been somewhat different with the changes in the coaching staff, but the players have responded well and are fully focused on the job in hand, which is all about beating London Welsh."

Meanwhile, London Welsh head coach Lyn Jones is under no illusions as to the size of the task that awaits the Exiles against Northampton Saints.

Welsh go into the game on the back of two heavy defeats in the LV= Cup, but will be hoping to recapture the euphoria of the club's round 8 win over Bath at the Kassam Stadium, when they snatched victory with the last play of the game thanks to Nick Scott's interception try.

Jones makes nine changes from the side which lined out against Gloucester last Saturday in the LV= Cup.

In the backs, Hudson Tonga'uiha returns to the London Welsh centres, where he'll partner Sonny Parker, and he could line up against his brother, Northampton Saints prop Soane. Tom Arscott starts at full back and Tyson Keats is named at scrum half.

In the forwards, Jones reunites front row that started against Bath, with Franck Montanella and Neil Briggs coming back into the side, while Kirill Kulemin returns to the Welsh second row from international duty with Russia to partner captain Jonathan Mills.

Ed Jackson, after returning to action against Gloucester, is named at openside flanker, with former Saints back row forward Daniel Browne at blindside. Adam Balding retains the number eight jersey.

"Northampton have had a great couple of years since coming back up from National League One and they've really excelled in the Premiership," said Jones.

"The players are really excited about the prospect of playing at Franklin's Gardens and it will be a pleasure for a lot of them to play against some of the best players in Europe. They've two great second rows and a really good blend to their game.

"As a rugby player you really want to be taking on and measuring yourself against the best, and Northampton are certainly up there with the elite of European rugby.

"What's important for us is that we turn up and try and be as competitive as we can, and try and get something out of the game."

Form: Northampton's unwanted four-game losing run ended at the Dragons in the Anglo-Welsh Cup on Sunday. Saints have slipped to three successive defeats in the Aviva Premiership - their worst run for twelve months. Northampton have lost their last two games at Franklin's Gardens but have not lost three in a row at the famous old ground since 2007. London Welsh beat Bath 16-9 at Kassam Stadium in round eight. The Exiles have lost their last two away games in all competitions. This is the two clubs' first ever meeting in the Premiership, but Northampton have won the last four matches between the two in lower leagues and cups. London Welsh's most recent competitive victory over the Saints was 16-14 in League Division Two at Franklin's Gardens on 2 January 1988.

The teams:

Northampton: 15 Tom May, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 Dom Waldouck, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 Jamie Elliott, 10 Ryan Lamb, 9 Martin Roberts, 8 GJ Van Velze, 7 Phil Dowson, 6 Calum Clark (c) 5 Courtney Lawes, 4 Samu Manoa, 3 Brian Mujati, 2 Mike Haywood, 1 Soane Tonga'uiha.
Replacements: 16 Ross McMillan, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Paul Doran Jones, 19 Mark Sorenson, 20 Rhys Oakley, 21 Alex Day, 22 Stephen Myler, 23 Vasily Artmeyev.

London Welsh: 15 Tom Arscott, 14 Dan Caprice, 13 Sonny Parker, 12 Hudson Tonga'uiha, 11 Nick Scott, 10 Gordon Ross, 9 Tyson Keats, 8 Adam Balding, 7 Ed Jackson, 6 Daniel Browne, 5 Kirill Kulemin, 4 Jonathan Mills (capt), 3 Paulica Ion, 2 Neil Briggs, 1 Franck Montanella.
Replacements: 16 Greg Bateman, 17 Tom Bristow, 18 James Tideswell, 19 Matt Corker, 20 Alfie To'oala, 21 Jamie Stephenson, 22 Alex Davies, 23 Seb Jewell.

Date: Saturday, November 24
Kick-off: 13:00
Venue: Franklin's Gardens
Referee: David Rose
Assistant referees: Peter Huckle, Nigel Carrick
Timekeeper: Mike Hamlin
Assessor: Stephen Leyshon

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