Planet Rugby

Preview: London Welsh v Northampton

12th April 2013 12:37


Jonathan Mills London Welsh v Northampton

Plenty to play for: Welsh v Saints

London Welsh head coach Lyn Jones has made four changes for Sunday's Premiership clash with Northampton Saints at the Kassam Stadium.

An injury to Gonzalo Tiesi has forced a reshuffle in the backline with Tom Arscott coming in at full-back and Seb Jewell moving to inside centre. Sonny Parker wears the number 13 jersey.

Injury also sees Phil MacKenzie miss out, with his place on the wing taken by Nick Scott.

The forwards are unchanged from the Exiles' 40-25 defeat at Bath last time out.

"Although we were disappointed with the final result at Bath, we again felt that we showed massive signs of improvement and that the scoreline did not reflect the efforts our players put in," said Jones.

"A losing bonus would have been thoroughly deserved and we hope to go one better on Sunday.

"Northampton are a side that's hurting at the moment after their defeat to Leicester, and are attempting to join Harlequins, Saracens and the Tigers in the elite bracket of the Aviva Premiership.

"We are under no illusions as to the size of that challenge therefore that they will pose on Sunday. They've got quality players from 1 to 15."

Meanwhile, Stephen Myler says that Northampton Saints will have to be "a lot better" if they are to get the win from Sunday's clash.

The Saints head to Oxford's Kassam Stadium for the first time in a decade and both teams need the points to maintain their respective ambitions, and the fly-half says that there is plenty of desire in the travellers' camp to get back to the form which won Saints four consecutive matches between Rounds 15 and 18.

"The Leicester game brought us back to earth with a bump, but we've got to put that past us and look positively forward to this game on Sunday," Myler told the assembled media this week.

"After a result like that you want to get back out there and put things right. But unlike in previous years we've had a bit of a break, and hopefully that will stand us in good stead for this Sunday and the other big games we've got coming up.

"Welsh aren't where they want to be, but that doesn't mean that they're going to be a pushover. They've taken some good teams close this year, especially at home, and we've got to be a lot better than we were last time out if we're going to get the win.

"We've got three games coming up now where we can hopefully secure a play-off spot, which is where we want to be. It's in our own hands, which is a good thing, and we're looking to up our game and come away with the vital points."

Form: London Welsh have slipped to nine straight defeats in all competitions since their 62-5 win over Prato in the European Challenge Cup on 12th January. The Exiles have not been victorious in Aviva Premiership Rugby since a 15-9 win at home to London Irish in round 10. Northampton Saints' four match winning run came to a halt last time out when they were defeated 36-8 at home to Leicester. The Saints have secured three successive away victories in the Premiership, their best run on the road in the competition since December 2000. Northampton have own their last five competitive encounters against London Welsh whilst the Exiles most recent victory over the Saints was 16-14 at Franklin's Gardens in Division Two on 2nd January 1998. Northampton won 38-9 on their only previous visit to Kassam Stadium, against London Irish in the semi-final of the 2002/03 Powergen Cup.

The teams:

London Welsh: 15 Tom Arscott, 14 Seb Stegmann, 13 Sonny Parker, 12 Seb Jewell, 11 Nick Scott, 10 Gordon Ross, 9 Alex Davies, 8 Daniel Browne, 7 Michael Hills, 6 Julio Cabello Farias, 5 Kirill Kulemin, 4 Jonathan Mills (c), 3 Paulica Ion, 2 Greg Bateman, 1 Tom Bristow.
Replacements: 16 Dan George, 17 Arthur Joly, 18 James Tideswell, 19 Matt Corker, 20 Adam Balding, 21 Rob Lewis, 22 James Lewis, 23 Tom Voyce.

Northampton Saints: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 George Pisi, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 Jamie Elliott, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 Samu Manoa, 7 Phil Dowson, 6 Tom Wood, 5 Christian Day, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Brian Mujati, 2 Dylan Hartley (c), 1 Soane Tonga'uiha.
Replacements: 16 Mike Haywood, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Paul Doran Jones, 19 GJ van Velze, 20 Calum Clark, 21 Martin Roberts, 22 Ryan Lamb, 23 Tom May.

Date: Sunday, April 14
Venue: Kassam Stadium
Kick-off: 15.00 BST (14.00 GMT)
Referee: Greg Garner

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