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Preview: Wasps v Northampton Saints

Preview: Wasps v Northampton Saints

England international Courtney Lawes believes Northampton Saints have to go to the Ricoh Arena willing to take risks when the face high-flying Wasps at the weekend.

Sunday sees third host fourth in Aviva Premiership Rugby and both are in great form as they look to secure a top-four finish.

Wasps have won nine of their last ten matches in all competitions, while the visitors have beaten six of their last eight opponents, so both will go into the contest with confidence.

And Lawes, who scored his first Saints try since September 2012 last weekend, said: “We can’t be complacent now and we have to take it to the rest of the season and make sure we do not drop out of the top four and we are there with a chance at the end of the year.

“Wasps are a massive challenge. They are a great team, with great players and they are in great form so we have to go there with a game plan and we have to execute that game plan.

“I think there will be running rugby but we have to see what the weather and the conditions are like.

“We have to play to our strengths and have to be willing to go there and play some running rugby and take some risks to get the win.”

Northampton have never won at the Ricoh Arena, losing their previous two semi-final contests there against Wasps and Cardiff Blues, and they were also beaten by Sunday’s opponents 24-11 in round 10 of the Aviva Premiership at the end of January.

Wasps have not lost at the Ricoh Arena in any tournament in 2016 but Saints go into this match having only lost once in the league in the last five rounds: their 20-12 defeat at fellow title-challengers Exeter Chiefs on March 20.

One of the ever-presents for Wasps in recent months has been Kearnan Myall and the lock expects a tough afternoon in what will be his 150th Aviva Premiership Rugby appearance.

The 29-year-old said: “Northampton have really picked things up after their start to the season and with a couple of their boys coming back it will be a really close battle – third versus fourth.

“I think the win we had at their place at the beginning of this period of games was because we went there with a bit of fear knowing if we didn’t go there and perform to our best then we would lose quite badly and that spurred us on and ultimately got us a result.

“It is really important for us to keep the momentum going and we have to go into the match with a huge amount of respect for Northampton and what they can bring.

“They are coming here to win and we have to go out there and meet fire with fire.”
If Wasps do win then they will move at least nine points ahead of fifth place with only three rounds remaining before the top four is decided ahead of the play-offs.
And Myall added: “The maths will look after itself but with the number of games we have won recently – nine wins out of ten – if we got another victory I think it would firm up our place in the top four.”

Ricoh Arena, 3pm – Live on BT Sport

Referee: Luke Pearce (49th Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Andrew Jackson & Robin Goodliffe. TMO: Geoff Warren.

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