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back to the day job

By Darraghgirl
April 4 2018

  This is the week our coaches have to earn their money. It is their job to lift the team who last Sunday finally, bravely, were forced to let go of the European Champions Cup that had been theirs since that incredible day in Lyon 2 years ago. It won’t have been an easy week but they will have reminded the squad that they need to focus on regaining the Premiership Trophy which Exeter Chiefs currently hold. They will need to remind them how difficult it was last year to fight on 2 fronts. They will need to remind them that whenever a door closes, another door opens. Losing to Leinster now gives a tired squad 2 precious weekends off before the Premiership semi-finals and we have to use that to our advantage.  

So after Dublin and the Aviva last weekend, we move on to Northampton and Franklins Gardens this Saturday. A potential banana-skin methinks. Forget that we have put 50 points on the Saints in our last 3 meetings, Northampton will not just lie down and let Sarries roll over them again. The Saints will look to take advantage of a side who gave everything in Ireland last Sunday while they put their feet up and watched it on the telly.

Team selection will be very interesting. We need (and we really ought) to win our remaining 4 Premiership games and we should be looking for a couple of try bonus points as well if we want a home semi-final (and that surely should be our aim). But I would also expect a bit of squad rotation over those 4 games to try and keep everyone fit and fresh for what hopefully will be another tilt at the title. So who plays this Saturday? A big call for McCall. I am sure he will have discussed it thoroughly with coaches and squad alike. No doubt the likes of Faz and Barritt and Maro will want to play every game so they need to be carefully managed.

Let’s take the backs first. I think Goodey is nailed on at 15. He’s played every game so far – why change! I wouldn’t be surprised to see our Liam have the week off after his bang on the head last week with Wyles replacing him alongside Maitland on the other wing. The centres are interesting. Might we see Super-Dunc back maybe in place of Bosch? Or could we see Tompkins? (Shame the A league game was cancelled denying him a run out). It wouldn’t surprise me to see Brad get the week off (although that might depend on Faz’s fitness as hopefully at least one of them will play). I think we might also see Loz either at 10 or 12. Wiggy could be due a rest and Spenno could well start at a ground where he has traditionally played well (remember the Anglo-welsh final a few years back?)

In the forwards, surely Mako deserves a break after his heroics of last week so Baz may well start alongside Jamie and probably Figallo. The locks are interesting because I think who plays depends on whether Billy makes it this week. If Billy is back, Isiekwe can move to lock with Kruis and give Maro a week off with the fabulous Jackson Wray covering 6. If he isn’t I think Maro will start alongside Kruis with Isiekwe at 6, Wray at 8 and maybe Dom Day at 7. Of course we could see a complete change with some or all of Blair Cowan Ben Earl and Soane Vailanu getting a start.

As to our opponents? Well it’s been a season to forget for the Saints and with quite a few departures at the end of term, it doesn’t sound like the happiest of camps. Stand in Head Coach Alan Gaffney however indicated that he will pick his strongest available team for the last 4 games and that he won’t be using these matches to blood a few young players. That suggests the likes of George North, Ben Foden, Kieran Brookes and Stephen Myler are in contention. In their narrow away defeat against  Newcastle Falcons  a couple of weeks ago, Saints were without a number of first team regulars including Dylan Hartley, Alex Waller, Luther Burrell, Henrich Brussow and Tom Wood however the Northampton Chronicle suggests that at least some of these guys are close to fitness. Coach Alan Dickens rather contradicted his boss by suggesting that many of the Wanderers (A Team) players who had a big win over Wasps A on Monday night) could also be in contention including 3  try scoring Tom Collins and Ken Pisi.

So there you have it! Only an idiot would try and predict the Saints team- so here goes! A backline of something like Tuala, Tuitavake, Burrell, Francis and North with Myler and Reinach at half back (Nick Groom having returned to South Africa). The forwards are tricky but I assume we will see something like Ma’afu, Haywood, Ford-Robinson, (assuming Dylan, Waller and Brookes don’t make it – possibly a strong bench though), then Christian Day and Ratuniyarawa at lock and a back row which could feature Brussow, Mitch Eadie and Teimana Harrison (back from a one match ban). As I said only an idiot!

Craig Maxwell-Keys has the whistle – hopefully he can emulate Monsieur Garces’ performance last week

We don’t have a reporter for this game, it isn’t on TV and I can’t go to the Gardens so PLEASE can we have a travelling volunteer otherwise the site will sadly remain silent.  Thanks go to Innings for offering.

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04/04/2018 11:24
Apologies for the lack of a photo - PA images on the blink!

Photo now supplied

Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 2018:04:16:20:56:50 by Darraghgirl.

TonyTaff (IP Logged)
05/04/2018 09:50
Sterling work, DG!

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