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Preview: Northampton v Gloucester

08th February 2013 12:24

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George Pisi try Northampton v Gloucester

Try machine: George Pisi

Northampton Saints host Gloucester at Franklin's Gardens on Saturday with just a point separating the two teams in the Premiership table.

With both clubs still in the hunt for a top four spot director of rugby Jim Mallinder says that it is important that the home players are up for the challenge.

"After four weeks of cup action we are looking forward to getting back to the Aviva Premiership," he commented.

"We're well placed in the league table and close to the top four, and with nine games left there is everything to play for.

"Although we played Gloucester a fortnight ago this will be a different game. Both teams will have quite a few changes from that day, and there is always an edge when league points are up for grabs.

"It's going to be a tough contest and as with every week we're going to have to be at our best."

Meanwhile, Jonny May and Nick Wood both return having been on England Saxons duty for the past two weeks and are both named in the Gloucester starting line-up.

Other changes to the team that started against Bath last weekend see Darren Dawidiuk, Will James, Akapusi Qera and Dan Robson all come in.

Looking back on that LV= Cup game of two weeks ago, Davies insisted this week that only so much can be read into the display.

"We kept our powder dry going into that game, we've got a few things going into this game which we've held back," he said.

"There were elements of that last game that I was really happy with, but it wasn't a complete performance by any stretch of the imagination.

"We were in the contest, very similar to last week, for a large period of the game before we dropped off."

Despite the two LV= Cup defeats of the last two weeks, Davies stressed that Gloucester are ready for the task in hand this weekend.

"It's been a complete refocus this week, and a re-organisation of what we've been looking at. And this has been planned. We'd have preferred to be going into this one off the back of two wins, but we're pretty clear about what we need to do.

"Over the past few weeks, we've played a bit more expansively than we have so far this season. The biggest problem we've got at the moment is discipline and that's fundamental to our game. We have to get that right."

Form: Northampton Saints' last four games in all competitions have all been won by the home side on the day. The Saints have won just one of their last three Aviva Premiership Rugby fixtures at Franklin's Gardens: against London Welsh, 23-16, on 24 November. Gloucester suffered their biggest home loss for over three years with their 5-32 defeat to Bath in the Anglo-Welsh Cup on Saturday. Gloucester have lost their last three away matches in the Premiership. The two clubs have already met twice this season with the Saints victorious on both occasions in the Premiership and Anglo-Welsh Cup. Gloucester's only win at Franklin's Gardens against Northampton since 2007 was 18-16 in February 2011.

Rugby Union betting odds

The teams:

Northampton Saints: 15 James Wilson, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 George Pisi, 12 Dom Waldouck, 11 Jamie Elliott, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 GJ van Velze, 7 Ben Nutley, 6 Phil Dowson (capt), 5 Mark Sorenson, 4 Samu Manoa, 3 Tom Mercey, 2 Mike Haywood, 1 Soane Tonga'uiha.
Replacements: 16 Ross McMillan, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Paul Doran Jones, 19 James Craig, 20 Rhys Oakley, 21 Martin Roberts, 22 Ryan Lamb, 23 Tom May.

Gloucester: 15 Rob Cook, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Mike Tindall (c), 12 Tim Molenaar, 11 Jonny May, 10 Ryan Mills, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Sione Kalamafoni 7 Akapusi Qera, 6 Tom Savage, 5 Will James, 4 Lua Lokotui, 3 Rupert Harden, 2 Darren Dawidiuk, 1 Nick Wood.
Replacements: 16 Tommaso d'Apice, 17 Dan Murphy, 18 Yann Thomas, 19 Peter Buxton, 20 Matt Cox, 21 Jimmy Cowan, 22 Shane Monahan, 23 Martyn Thomas.

Date: Saturday, February 9
Venue: Franklin's Gardens
Kick-off: 12.30 GMT
Referee: Martin Fox

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PosTeamPPts
1Saracens418
2Northampton416
3Bath415
4Exeter414
5Wasps411