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Preview: London Wasps v Northampton

22nd March 2013 11:09

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Tom Palmer Wasps AVP 2012

Back from injury: Tom Palmer

Lock Tom Palmer has been included in Wasps' starting XV for Saturday's Aviva Premiership clash with Northampton Saints at Adams Park.

Palmer, who has spent over three months on the sidelines with injury, returns to partner Marco Wentzel in the second row.

Wasps also welcome back their international contingent this week. Joe Launchbury, James Haskell and Andrea Masi all return to black and gold following their efforts in the Six Nations.

Dai Young has resisted the urge to name those three returning players in the starting team as they take their places on the bench.

Other returnees include Chris Bell, who starts in the centres for his 150th Premiership appearance, and Billy Vunipola, who starts at number eight.

Another landmark sees scrum-half Joe Simpson line up for his 100th appearance for Wasps.

Meanwhile, Dylan Hartley says that the Saints players will be well aware of the dangers that will be posed by Wasps in this clash.

Both sides are in the hunt for a play-off place and the Saints captain says getting a win in Wycombe is all that matters to him at the moment.

"Saturday's game isn't about setting down a marker, but more about a matter of winning and securing our place in the top four, especially against a team that's hot on our heels," Hartley said.

"We've got some tough games coming up, so we need to put some space between us and the teams below us and try to keep going forward.

"Wasps are a good team and if you don't turn up on the day they can put a lot of points on you. Their wingers get talked about a lot, but if you look at people like Billy Vunipola in their back row they've got a lot of quality there as well.

"They've got some returning internationals like Joe Launchbury and James Haskell as well and they're quality as well.

"But if we can get a complete performance it will be pretty decent. Playing away from home is never easy. It's about getting the result and that's what we're going for."

Form: Wasps have lost their last two matches to London Irish and Worcester Warriors, having won five on the spin before that and they currently sit in sixth place, three points below fourth. Saints meanwhile, have won their last three matches, including a 40-14 drubbing of London Irish last time out, and appear to have put their mid-season blip behind them.

London Wasps: 15 Hugo Southwell, 14 Tom Varndell, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Chris Bell 11 Christian Wade, 10 Stephen Jones, 9 Joe Simpson, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Sam Jones, 6 Ashley Johnson, 5 Marco Wentzel, 4 Tom Palmer, 3 Phil Swainston, 2 T Rhys Thomas, 1 Tim Payne.
Replacements: 16 Tom Lindsey, 17 Zak Taulafo, 18 Will Taylor, 19 James Haskell, 20 Joe Launchbury, 21 Stuart Cummins, 22 Nick Robinson, 23 Andrea Masi.

Northampton Saints: 15 Ben Foden, 14 James Wilson, 13 George Pisi, 12 Dom Waldouck, 11 Jamie Elliott, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 GJ van Velze, 7 Phil Dowson, 6 Samu Manoa, 5 Christian Day, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Tom Mercey, 2 Dylan Hartley (c), 1 Soane Tonga'uiha.
Replacements: 16 Ross McMillan, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Brian Mujati, 19 Tom Wood, 20 Ben Nutley, 21 Martin Roberts, 22 Ryan Lamb, 23 Tom May.

Date: Saturday, 23 March
Venue: Adams Park
Kick-off: 15:15 GMT
Referee: David Rose
Assistant referees: Nigel Carrick, Kevin Stewart
TMO: Graham Hughes

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PosTeamPPts
1Saracens418
2Northampton416
3Bath415
4Exeter414
5Wasps411