Wasps v Northampton Saints: Tom Vickers' big match preview

Centre Fraser Strachan will make his first start for Saints on Sunday (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
Centre Fraser Strachan will make his first start for Saints on Sunday (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

Fixture: Wasps v Northampton Saints

Competition: Premiership Rugby Cup (Pool 3)

Venue: Ricoh Arena, Coventry

Date and kick-off time: Sunday, November 4, 2018, 3pm

Television coverage: None

Referee: Sara Cox

Wasps: Miller (c); Watson, Neal, Lovobalavu, Curtis; Searle, Hampson; West, Oghre, Cooper-Woolley; Matthews, Myall; Morris, Atkinson, Willis.
Replacements: Harris, McIntyre, Hunt, Cardall, Seabrook, Porter, Simonds, James.

Saints: Furbank; Kellaway, Dingwall, Strachan, Sleightholme; Grayson, Davies; van Wyk, Fish, Franks; Ratuniyarawa, Barrow; Gibson, Brüssow, Eadie.
Replacements: Marshall, Trinder, Garside, Coles, Onojaife, Ryan, Tupai, Gillespie.

Outs: Saints: Rory Hutchinson (knee), Ken Pisi (shoulder), Nafi Tuitavake (neck), Andy Symons (knee), Jamal Ford-Robinson (knee), Tom Emery (ankle), Harry Mallinder (knee), James Haskell (ankle), Matt Worley (concussion), James Craig (concussion), Mikey Haywood (concussion), Ehren Painter (back), Dylan Hartley (international duty), Courtney Lawes (international duty).

Most recent meeting: Sunday, April 29, 2018: Wasps 36 Saints 29 (Premiership)

Tom's preview: December 21, 2013 and March 27, 2015 - those are two significant Wasps-related dates for Saints.

The first is when the black, green and gold last won an away game against Wasps and the second is when Saints last beat them anywhere.

The men formerly of High Wycombe and now of Coventry have certainly had the better of meetings between the two clubs in recent times.

In fact, Saints have lost their past six games against the pesky Wasps.

And with two meetings in prospect during the month ahead, Sunday would be a great time for a new-look Northampton team to turn the tide.

On a weekend of fireworks, you can be sure the sides will produce some pyrotechnics of their own.

Both teams prioritise panache over power, preferring to speed things up rather than slow them down.

And though Premiership Rugby Cup points are not top of the agenda for either club, with league matches far more important, both would love a win this weekend.

It would set them up nicely for the return to Premiership action on November 17, when Wasps will make their way to Franklin's Gardens.

And Saints would be happy to get rid of the hoodoo before that.

The run of defeats have not been totally comprehensive, with Saints often losing to Wasps in dramatic circumstances, particularly at the Ricoh Arena.

They were beaten 36-29 on their most recent visit to Coventry and were denied by a last-gasp try the time before that as they fell to a 32-30 defeat.

So there has been little to choose between the two entertaining teams.

This time though, Saints will be so eager to come out on the right side of those narrow margins.

Tom's prediction: Wasps 29 Saints 32