A quick glance at the Aviva Premiership table and you would think Northampton Saints are odds on to secure a hat-trick of league victories against London Irish this weekend.
But despite Saints’ position just outside the play-offs, one point off a top-four spot, and the Exiles looking nervously over their shoulder in tenth, Northampton prop Alex Waller insists the table will play no part in the clash at Franklin’s Gardens.
Saints have won three of their last four Aviva Premiership matches ahead of the Irish’s visit but have won only two of their last five fixtures at Franklin's Gardens in the tournament.
And Irish arrive not only buoyed by beating London Wasps 30-19 last time out for a third win in their last four Aviva Premiership matches, but also by the fact that they got the better of their hosts 39-17 in the reverse fixture in round six.
However the Exiles have never before achieved a league double over the Saints and Waller is hell-bent on keeping it that way.
“There are no easy games in the Aviva Premiership and London Irish are playing well at the moment and it will be a tough test,” Waller said.
“Everyone has been saying to me that this week that we are at the top and they are at the bottom but it doesn’t matter where you are in the table. They have a good set of forwards and we will have to be ready for a physical battle for sure.
“But they also have a good set of backs and are a threat so it doesn’t matter where they are in the table in relation to us, it will be a tough game regardless.”
Victory over Wasps last time out lifted London Irish to tenth, putting London Welsh between them and bottom-side Sale Sharks as a bit of a buffer.
The Exiles have only won once away the entire Aviva Premiership season, at Gloucester Rugby in round 13, but star of the show against Wasps Marland Yarde is hoping to change all that come Saturday.
“Northampton are a formidable side but we will take the victory over London Wasps through with us,” he said.
“In the first part of the season we played Wasps away and played us off the park so we were at the races from the start and we dominated them for large periods.
“We showed when our forwards turn up we can be really hard to beat. We are going in the right direction and looking up the table.”
Referee: J.P. Doyle (57th Premiership game)
Assistant Referees: Gareth Copsey & Nigel Carrick.