Northampton Saints v Wasps: Tom Vickers' match preview

Saints scored three times but were beaten in their most recent Premiership game, at Gloucester (picture: Sharon Lucey)
Saints scored three times but were beaten in their most recent Premiership game, at Gloucester (picture: Sharon Lucey)

Fixture: Northampton Saints v Wasps

Competition: Aviva Premiership - round seven

Venue: Franklin's Gardens, Northampton

Date: Saturday, October 28, 2017

Kick-off time: 3pm (BST)

Television coverage: BT Sport 2

Saints: Tuala; Foden, Tuitavake, Burrell, Collins; Francis, Groom; Waller, Hartley (c), Brookes; Lawes, Ratuniyarawa; Gibson, Wood, Harrison.
Replacements: Haywood, van Wyk, Hill, Day, Paterson, Reinach, Mallinder, Pisi.

Wasps: Le Roux; Wade, Daly, De Jongh, Bassett; Gopperth, Robson; Mullan, Johnson, Cooper-Woolley; Launchbury (c), Rowlands; Haskell, Young, Thompson.
Replacements: Harris, McIntyre, Moore, Gaskell, Willis, Symons, Simpson, Miller.

Outs: Saints: George North (knee), David Ribbans (ankle)

Referee: Luke Pearce (66th Premiership game)

Most recent meeting: Sunday, April 9, 2017: Wasps 32 Saints 30 (Aviva Premiership)

Tom's preview: There are several reasons why the seventh game of the Premiership season is important for Saints.

Firstly, Jim Mallinder's men know they must get back on track after three successive defeats in all competitions.

Though confidence does not appear to be low - Saints dominated for long spells in last Saturday's 24-7 defeat at Clermont Auvergne - a shot in the arm would be welcome.

They don't want to keep knocking on the door only for it to close in their faces.

They need to return to the winning ways of earlier in the season, when they earned four victories in as many weeks.

And this weekend's fixture would be the perfect time to put things right.

It is a stand-alone fixture in the Premiership season, with two Champions Cup games and two Anglo-Welsh Cup weeks either side of it.

It is a chance for Saints to put themselves in an even more comfortable position than the third spot they currently enjoy by the time the league games roll around again at the end of November.

Saints go to Worcester Warriors and Sale Sharks in the final two weeks of next month, and they know just how vital home victories are ahead of those away-day endeavours.

Not only that, they would love to get a long overdue win against Wasps, who have done the double over Saints during the past two seasons.

Jim Mallinder's men could, and maybe should, have won at the Ricoh Arena back in April, but they were robbed of a maximum points success late in the day as they were defeated 32-30 in a Coventry cracker.

Now is the time for Saints to end their disappointing recent run against their near neighbours.

And if they can, Northampton would open up a very tidy gap between themselves and Saturday's opposition.

Wasps have started the season with four defeats and just two wins in the league.

Saints, on the other hand, have four wins and two defeats, putting them 10 points ahead of a team they will rightly consider top-four rivals.

You can do the maths as to what a win would mean for the sides this weekend, and if Saints can get it, breathing space will be theirs.

If they can't, the suffocating feeling created by recent defeats will continue to linger around the Gardens.

Tom's prediction: Saints 28 Wasps 22