Wasps v Northampton Saints: Tom Vickers' match preview

Saints secured a stunning win at Leicester last time out (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
Saints secured a stunning win at Leicester last time out (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

Fixture: Wasps v Northampton Saints

Competition: Aviva Premiership (round 21)

Venue: Ricoh Arena, Coventry

Date and kick-off time: Sunday, April 29, 2018, 3pm

Television coverage: BT Sport 1

Referee: Matthew Carley (72nd Premiership game)

Wasps: Le Roux; Wade, De Jongh, Gopperth, Daly; Cipriani, Robson; McIntyre, Taylor, Cooper-Woolley; Launchbury (c), Rowlands; Willis, Young, Thompson.

Replacements: Cruse, Mullan, Moore, Myall, Haskell, Simpson, Lovobalavu, Bassett.

Saints: Tuala; Foden (c), Burrell, Francis, North; Myler, Reinach; Waller, Haywood, Hill; Craig, Ratuniyarawa; Gibson, Harrison, Eadie.

Replacements: Clare, Ma'afu, Painter, Moon, Brüssow, Mitchell, Grayson, Collins.

Outs: Saints: Courtney Lawes (knee), Dylan Hartley (concussion), Tom Wood (groin), Harry Mallinder (illness), David Ribbans (shoulder), Reece Marshall, Kieran Brookes, Christian Day

Most recent meeting: Saturday, October 28, 2017: Saints 22 Wasps 38 (Aviva Premiership)

Tom's preview: 'More of the same please, lads' - that will surely be the message in the Saints dressing room before the battle with Wasps on Sunday.

Those in the away colours will be asked to continue the form that saw them secure a stunning 27-21 success at Leicester Tigers last time out.

On that memorable day at Welford Road, Saints possessed a bit of everything.

They allied speed with skill and there was no shortage of substance, either.

They brought the intensity that their supporters have been crying out for on so many occasions this season, once again showing what they can do when they play to their potential.

They have performed well when it wasn't expected on a few occasions this year, beating Clermont Auvergne and pushing Exeter Chiefs to the very end at Sandy Park.

And if that Saints team can turn up again, they have every chance against Wasps.

There is a freshness about the current starting 15, with players like Paul Hill and James Craig desperate to make their mark.

On the bench there is a lack of experience but a plentiful supply of youthful exuberance.

With little to play for other than pride and a few Premiership points, Saints fans are happy to see members of the successful Wanderers squad given the chance to step up.

Ehren Painter did so to great effect at Leicester, producing one of the best 14-minute cameos you will see from a prop.

And the likes of Alex Moon and Alex Mitchell will hope to make the same kind of positive impression from the bench this weekend.

If almost feels like Saints have had their cup final by beating Leicester, but if they can add the scalp of Wasps to their collection this weekend, recent optimism will really peak.

There will of course be sadness that Rob Horne is not present following the news of his retirement last weekend.

And that will have served as a reminder to the Saints players to savour every moment of every match, whether there is a trophy or a league position riding on it or not.

This weekend, they will look to play with the kind of spirit Horne instilled in them before that win at Leicester.

And if they have the same kind of fight he showed during his 21 matches in the black, green and gold, they have a chance of denting another team's play-off ambitions.

Tom's prediction: Wasps 30 Saints 22