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Preview: Northampton v Wasps

26th March 2010 12:40

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Northampton welcome back several England internationals for their hosting of Wasps at Franklin's Gardens this Saturday.

Saints lifted the LV= Cup last Sunday, but Mallinder insists that that competition is firmly behind them as they look forward to another top-four Guinness Premiership clash.

"The LV= Cup was a good competition for us but our attention is now firmly on the Guinness Premiership," he said this week.

"We've got a hard few weeks in front of us, starting on Saturday.

"Wasps are a tough side. They will have a few players back from international duty and from injury and they know how to win games at this stage of the season, when they always seem to be there or thereabouts in the push for the play-offs.

"It is a big game, which we are having every week now. But this is where you want to be as a player or as a coach. We've won a competition and are competing in another two, but success only comes one game at a time."

Meanwhile, Wasps Rugby Director Tony Hanks has named a strong team for the trip to the Gardens.

Tom Payne and Joe Worsley are back from international duty while scrum-half Joe Simpson, lock George Skivington and flanker Tom Rees. Rees, who is making his first appearance of the season following a shoulder injury, also captains the side.

"We are delighted to welcome Tom Rees and Joe Simpson back to the game," Hanks said.

"Both players have shown huge resolve and focus to work through their rehab programmes which, especially for Tom, have been lengthy. Although they have not been seen on the pitch over the past few months, their contribution to the team has been huge behind the scenes and everyone is pleased to welcome them back to action.

"To have these guys back in the mix, alongside George Skivington and our England pair of Payne and Worsley, there has been a real lift at the Club this week. The performance at Sale was not good enough by our own standards and we are very focused on this week's game and a strong performance against Northampton that reflects our own high expectations."

Form: The Saints have won just two of their last twelve encounters with Wasps in all competitions. Northampton Saints won the LV= Cup at Sixways on Sunday and have been victorious in seven of their last eight games in all competitions. The Saints have won their last 20 games at Franklin's Gardens since Newcastle triumphed there, 19-13, on 28 February 2009. London Wasps have lost two of their last three games in the Guinness Premiership. Wasps have been defeated in their last three away matches in the competition since their 21-20 victory over Harlequins at Twickenham on 27 December.

The teams:

Northampton: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Jon Clarke, 12 James Downey, 11 Bruce Reihana, 10 Shane Geraghty, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 Roger Wilson, 7 Neil Best, 6 Mark Easter, 5 Juandre Kruger, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Brian Mujati, 2 Dylan Hartley (capt), 1 Soane Tonga'uiha.
Replacements: 16 Andy Long, 17 Regardt Dreyer, 18 Euan Murray, 19 James Cannon, 20 Mark Hopley, 21 Alan Dickens, 22 Stephen Myler, 23 Joe Ansbro.

Wasps: 15 Mark Van Gisbergen, 14 Paul Sackey, 13 Dom Waldouck, 12 Steve Kefu, 11 Tom Varndell, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Joe Simpson, 8 John Hart, 7 Tom Rees (capt), 6 Joe Worsley, 5 George Skivington, 4 Dan Ward-Smith, 3 Zak Taulafo, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Tim Payne.
Replacements: 16 Tom Lindsay, 17 Ben Broster, 18 Bob Baker, 19 Dan Leo, 20 Serge Betsen, 21 Dave Walder, 22 Ben Jacobs, 23 David Lemi.

Date: Saturday, March 27
Kick-off: 17:30
Venue: Franklin's Gardens

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