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Preview: Northampton Saints v London Welsh

Preview: Northampton Saints v London Welsh

IT may be top against bottom on Saturday but Northampton Saints prop Salesi Ma’afu is taking nothing for granted against London Welsh with an Aviva Premiership Rugby home semi-final up for grabs.

One more victory for the Saints will ensure a home semi-final spot for the second successive year, having now reached the play-offs for the past six seasons.

And they go into the clash at Franklin’s Gardens having suffered only one defeat in their last seven Aviva Premiership Rugby fixtures – against Exeter Chiefs in round 19.

Northampton have won their last seven competitive fixtures against London Welsh since the Exiles were last successful way back in 1988.

But Australian front-rower Ma'afu is keen to keep Saints’ feet on the ground despite them being heavy favourites.

“They’ve got nothing to lose so that makes them dangerous and they will work hard to take the game to us and finish their season on a high,” said the 32-year-old.

“We’re aware of what they can do after they led Leicester Tigers at half-time and we’ve spoken about that as we don’t want to be in that position too.

“I’ve not really been thinking much about the home semi-final as we’ll just focus on the game first but we’ll be really happy if could achieve it.

“It’s going to be a big one as our last regular season game at Franklin’s Gardens before obviously what’s going to be a massive game to finish on at Leicester.”

London Welsh have lost all 32 first-team fixtures they have played this season and have accrued just one four-try bonus point in the league.

The Exiles have conceded a try bonus point in their last nine Aviva Premiership Rugby fixtures but lock Matt Corker is eyeing a resolute showing.

“It’s hard to catch out a team as thorough and clinical as Northampton Saints but we will definitely be looking to put in a really good performance,” said Corker.

“We’re motivated to build on our own progress – Leicester are a bit behind Saints but not that far and we managed to put them under pressure. So I see no reason why we can’t pose Saints some questions.

“At the start of the season we saw it was going to be such a tough run in, especially these last two games, but it’s a real privilege to play these great sides and we want to put on a show for the fans.”

Franklin’s Gardens, 3pm

Referee: Andrew Small (117th Premiership game)
Assistant Referees: Wayne Falls & Steve Lee. TMO: Stuart Terheege

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