Northampton Saints v Wasps: Tom Vickers' big match preview

Fraser Dingwall finished off a flowing move when Saints beat Wasps last November
Fraser Dingwall finished off a flowing move when Saints beat Wasps last November

Fixture: Northampton Saints v Wasps

Competition: Premiership Rugby Cup (pool game two)

Venue: Franklin's Gardens, Northampton

Date and kick-off time: Saturday, September 28, 2019, 3pm

Weather forecast: Mostly cloudy, 17 degrees

Television coverage: BT Sport 3, from 2.45pm

Referee: Michael Hudson

Saints: Collins; Sleightholme, Hutchinson, Symons, Naiyaravoro; Grayson, Taylor; Waller (c), Fish, Painter; Ribbans, Bean; Coles, Wood, Eadie.

Replacements: van Vuuren, Franks, Hill, Tonks, Harrison, J Mitchell, Dingwall, Olowofela.

Wasps: Watson; Odogwu, Spink, Le Bourgeois, Bassett; Umaga, Wolstenholme; Zhvania, Cruse, Alo; Cardall, Matthews; Shields (c), Carr, Vailanu.

Replacements: Oghre, West, Toomaga-Allen, Flament, Miller, James.

Saints outs: Harry Mallinder (knee), Dylan Hartley (knee), Alex Mitchell (knee), Reece Marshall (hamstring), Mikey Haywood (knee), Jamie Gibson (shoulder), Heinrich Brüssow (ankle), Paddy Ryan (knee), Dan Biggar, Piers Francis, Courtney Lawes, Lewis Ludlam, Api Ratuniyarawa, Cobus Reinach, Ahsee Tuala (all at the Rugby World Cup).

Most recent meeting: January 6, 2019: Wasps 27 Saints 16 (Gallagher Premiership)

Tom's preview: When Wasps rock up at Franklin's Gardens this weekend, they will spark some good memories for Saints supporters.

Because it was against Dai Young's men little less than a year ago that Saints really started to ignite under the stewardship of Chris Boyd.

They had shown glimmers of what the new boss had brought to the Franklin's Gardens table, especially when brushing past Bristol at Ashton Gate a couple of months earlier.

But they finally put it all together, at both ends of the pitch, as they swatted Wasps with a ruthless attacking display.

Fraser Dingwall and Ollie Sleightholme both scored eye-catching tries as the youthful exuberance Boyd was starting to build his team around took centre stage.

Saints played with a swagger to secure much-needed Premiership points, and perhaps more importantly, to finally fully lift the cloud from the Gardens sky.

On a sun-soaked November afternoon, this was a statement of intent.

And Saints eventually built on it to finish a fine first season under Boyd with a trophy, a top-four finish and a place in a European quarter-final.

They got their fear factor back a bit at home, although there were bumps in the road against the likes of Newcastle and Bristol.

And they started to bring a buzz back to Northampton.

Now they will be desperate to start their home season in style to show the Gardens can be a difficult place to visit in the coming weeks and months.

The success of any top team is built on a formidable home record - and that is what Saints must create if they are to have any hope of achieving their aims this time round.

They have named a team full of firepower, with the likes of Taqele Naiyaravoro and Rory Hutchinson returning.

And they will expect to show the kind of belief they were oozing when they last hosted Wasps.

The away side will not go quietly as they have named some real danger men in their side, especially in the back row, where Brad Shields, Nizaam Carr and Sione Vailanu reside.

If Saints let them have a big say on the game, they will be in trouble.

But, as ever, if Boyd's men even achieve just parity with the oppositon pack, they will back themselves to get the job done.

And that would be a big boost with another tough home fixture, against Saracens, to come next weekend.

Tom's prediction: It should be a really good contest at the Gardens as both sides look strong in certain areas, but Saints' youthful exuberance should just about win out here as long as they can stop Wasps' powerful and experienced back row getting on top. Saints 25 Wasps 20.