Tom Vickers’ Wasps v Northampton Saints preview

BATTERED AND BRUISED - George North flies over for a try during May's hammering of Wasps at Franklin's Gardens. Saints will find the Adams Park outfit a tougher proposition on Sunday (Picture: Linda Dawson)
BATTERED AND BRUISED - George North flies over for a try during May's hammering of Wasps at Franklin's Gardens. Saints will find the Adams Park outfit a tougher proposition on Sunday (Picture: Linda Dawson)
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Fixture: London Wasps v Northampton Saints (Aviva Premiership round two)

Date/kick-off time: Sunday, September 14 (2pm kick-off)

Venue: Adams Park, High Wycombe

Weather forecast: 22C, partly cloudy

Wasps: Masi; Tagicakibau, Daly, Bell, Varndell; Goode, Simpson; Mullan, Festuccia, Cittadini; Launchbury, Gaskell; Johnson, Haskell (c), Hughes.

Replacements: Lindsay, Yapp, Cooper-Woolley, Myall, Thompson, Davies, Jackson, Miller.

Saints: Wilson; K Pisi, G Pisi, Burrell, North; Myler, L Dickson; Corbisiero, Hartley (c), Ma’afu; Lawes, C Day; Clark, Wood, Manoa.

Replacements: McMillan, A Waller, Denman, Craig, Fisher, Fotuali’i, Hooley, Foden.

Wasps:

Outs: Wasps: Christian Wade (rested).

Saints: Haywood (shoulder), Dickinson (neck), G Dickson (hip), Hodgson (wrist)

Most recent meeting: Saturday, May 10: Saints 74 Wasps 13

Tom’s preview: Taking play-off games out of the equation, this Saints team has now scored a quite ridiculous 127 points in two regular-season Aviva Premiership matches.

It is a stunning statistic for the top level of the English game, and a mark of just how potent this particular crop of players is.

Last Friday, Gloucester were blown apart in coruscating fashion, floored by eight tries in a ruthless Northampton performance.

And this weekend, Saints will come face to face with another side they inflicted huge pain and embarrassment on back on a mad day in May.

On that occasion, the final encounter before the play-off lottery got underway, Wasps were swatted 74-13.

It was a chastening experience for Dai Young’s men and no doubt one which will have been used to fuel the fires ahead of Sunday’s reunion at Adams Park.

Saints will know that their next fixture will be far from as easy as the one before.

And if they require any reminders, they only have to look back at the past two trips to High Wycombe, when they left it until the final Stephen Myler kick to emerge victorious.

Memories of those visits provide some sobriety during a time when Jim Mallinder’s men are on the highest of highs.

They answered questions about their hunger last Friday, showing that May’s title triumph had not sated the appetite for silverware at the Gardens.

Now they will again be asked to demonstrate why they are champions, by backing up a big home performance at a ground that has proved a tricky - if not unconquerable - in recent years.

With a swagger or simply blood and sweat, Saints have beaten Wasps on the past 10 occasions the teams have met.

But this season’s Buckinghamshire breed appear to have more threat than before.

Young has gradually been rebuilding a club that was such a force at the beginning of this millennium.

And now they will be expecting to challenge closer to the top end of the table than the bottom.

To do that, they know they need to start converting good performances such as the one against Saracens and those against Saints at Adams Park.

This weekend, they will hope it is their time to capture one of the league’s biggest fishes.

But Saints have shown they are determined to swim rather than sink under the pressure of being champions and they will be confident of producing another flowing display this weekend.

Tom’s prediction: Wasps 15 Saints 22