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Preview: London Welsh v Northampton Saints

Preview: London Welsh v Northampton Saints

London Welsh head coach Lyn Jones has called on his side to make the most of home comforts against Northampton Saints on Sunday as they seek to beat the drop.

The Exiles have not won in the Aviva Premiership since December but have been on the road for the last four games, picking up just one losing bonus point from those matches.

This weekend they welcome Northampton to the Kassam Stadium, knowing that they desperately need a win to close the eight-point gap to Sale Sharks above them in the table.

When the two sides met back in November it was Saints who came out on top in a tight affair, winning 23-16, but Jones is adamant his side will not be lacking any motivation in their final three fixtures of the season.

He said: “We are going to need to win all three. The players are relaxed and focused and looking forward to Sunday.

“We know that time is running short, but we are still having a good time. It would be very disappointing if we don’t achieve our goal of staying up, but we are really going for it.

“Motivation is not an issue. We have goals which we use to motivate ourselves and we are up for it. We need to keep fighting.

“We have not played at home for quite a while and the crowd does make a difference. We have had some positive results at home and also some close matches.

“If people come out and watch us, they will see some top rugby. And Northampton are a very good side with plenty of England internationals.”

While Welsh are desperately trying to avoid the drop, Northampton have their own incentive with their position in the top four under threat from Gloucester Rugby after defeat in the East Midlands derby a fortnight ago.

The two sides head into the weekend on the same number of points, with Saints ahead purely on number of wins, and with three games left they cannot afford any slip-ups if they are to reach the Premiership semi-finals for the fourth straight year.

They have gone on to lose at that stage in each of those seasons and will be eager to put that right in the Race to Twickenham and the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final on May 25.

They will have to do that without centre Dom Waldouck, who has been ruled out for the season with a hamstring injury.

Luther Burrell could come in to replace him, having impressed earlier in the season, and the former Sale centre admits it’s up to him to seize his opportunity.

He said: “It’s unfortunate what happened to Dom, but the opportunity is there for me to take it now and to finish the season the way I started: on a high.

“I want to help the boys qualify for that top-four place. The grounds are drying up now and that should suit my sort of game.

“Fingers crossed I’ll now be in with a shot at getting in the squad and maybe getting my starting spot back.”

Referee: Greg Garner (48th Premiership game)
Assistant Referees: Stuart Terheege & Kevin Stewart

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