Northampton Saints v Wasps: Tom Vickers' big match preview

Fixture: Northampton Saints v Wasps

By Tom Vickers
Friday, 11th March 2022, 12:23 pm
Updated Friday, 11th March 2022, 12:29 pm

Competition: Gallagher Premiership

Venue: cinch Stadium at Franklin's Gardens, Northampton

Date and kick-off time: Sunday, March 13, 2022, 3pm

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Courtnall Skosan scored twice as Saints beat Bath in December

Weather forecast: 11c, cloudy

Live television coverage: BT Sport 2 and ITV

Referee: Wayne Barnes

Saints: Furbank; Skosan, Dingwall (c), Hutchinson, Collins; Grayson, Mitchell; Waller, Matavesi, Hill; Ribbans, Ratuniyarawa; Coles, Harrison, Augustus.

Replacements: Haywood, Iyogun, Carey, Nansen, Tonks, James, Francis, Sleightholme.

Wasps: Watson; Odogwu, Spink, Mills, Bassett; Umaga, Robson; West, Oghre, Alo; Cardall, Stooke; Shields (c), J Willis, T Willis.

Replacements: Frist, Hislop, Toomaga-Allen, Fifita, Carr, Porter, Atkinson, Gopperth.

Not considered for Saints selection: Matthew Arden, Emeka Atuanya, Jake Garside, Karl Garside, Oisín Heffernan, Lewis Ludlam, Taqele Naiyaravoro, Ehren Painter, Matt Proctor, Kayde Sylvester, Karl Wilkins, Tom Wood.

International duty: Dan Biggar (Wal), Ethan Grayson (Eng U20), George Hendy (Eng U20), Courtney Lawes (Eng), Tom Lockett (Eng U20).

Most recent meeting: Sunday, October 10, 2021: Wasps 26 Saints 20 (Gallagher Premiership)

Tom's preview: Racing 92, Saracens, Ulster, Sale Sharks and Exeter Chiefs.

Those are the teams who have all won at cinch Stadium Franklin's Gardens since Saints last did.

Chris Boyd's side have not won a match on home soil since December 4, when a beleaguered Bath team were beaten 40-19.

It feels like so long ago as five games have come and gone without that winning feeling at the end of them, well, except from an opposition perspective.

Any team that is successful boasts a strong home record.

And that is certainly not something Saints have enjoyed in recent years.

They have been so susceptible to failures at the Gardens that the life has been sucked out of some games when it comes to atmosphere.

Supporters are desperate to celebrate wins but defeats have been the only thing that has been forthcoming at the Gardens in 2022.

That's not to say Saints haven't entertained. They have.

And it's not to say they haven't performed well in patches. They have.

But that ability to get over the line when it matters most has eluded them.

They could easily have claimed bonus-point wins in each of their past two matches at home, and in the game at Gloucester last weekend.

But there has been a lack of killer instinct, opening doors for opposition sides to walk through late in the game.

Saints are desperate to put a stop to these disappointing denouements, and they have a chance to do so against Wasps this weekend.

It is yet another game against a team close to Boyd's side in the league standings.

In fact, they couldn't be any closer, as both teams sit on 43 points.

And both know that their hopes of a top-four finish in the Gallagher Premiership are extremely thin.

Win this weekend, and that flame will just about continue to flicker.

Lose, and it will be extinguished.

Saints haven't performed well under pressure of late, but they simply have to this weekend.

And there is no doubt that their fans have waited long enough for a home win to sing about.

Tom's prediction: Surely this is the time Saints finally win at home and put a stop to that barren run? Wasps are another formidable opponent, but Saints have the ability to get the job done. And I'm backing them to on this occasion. Saints 33 Wasps 28.