Aviva Premiership
Saints hoping to sustain march
ESPNscrum Staff
October 29, 2010
Northampton prop Soane Tonga'uiha crashes over for a try, London Wasps v Northampton, Aviva Premiership, Adams Park, High Wycombe, England, October 24, 2010
Soane Tonga'uiha and his Northampton cohorts will be hoping to maintain their form against Newcastle © PA Photos

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Newcastle have the unenviable task of halting rampant Northampton at Franklin's Gardens on Saturday - a week on from the Saints' demolition of Wasps.

The second-placed Saints are back on home turf and with just one win all season Alan Tait's men look ripe for the picking. They did go within two points of Saracens at Kingston Park last weekend, but against a team that put 37 points on Wasps away from home last week they need a major step up.

The Falcons could do with a result as they sit just four points ahead of winless Leeds at the bottom of the table. Northampton can maintain their top four presence and even go top if results elsewhere go their way.

Northampton - Player to Watch: The Saints battled long and hard to keep Soane Tonga'uiha at the club last season and it's easy to see why as the big Tongan prop has turned into a try machine this campaign with his second brace of the season coming against Wasps last week.

Northampton - Team News: The Saints have been hit by England call-ups but have some quality in reserve, with the lively Paul Diggin, Joe Ansbro and Greig Tonks forming the back-three in the absence of Chris Ashton, Ben Foden and the injured Bruce Reihana. Calum Clark comes in for Courtney Lawes in the second-row and Brett Sharman takes over from skipper Dylan Hartley at hooker. Phil Dowson skippers the side.

Newcastle - Player to Watch: Luke Fielden played at Newcastle's academy when a student in the city and the winger has made a try scoring return since rejoining from Beford with a try in each of their last three matches.

Newcastle -Team News: Samoan lock Filipo Levi replaces Glen Townson in the only change to the starting XV.

Key Battle: The Saints have been hit hard in the backs by EPS requirements but their pack remains a powerful unit. If the Falcons cannot get to grips with the maul and gain-line busts then it will be a long afternoon for them.

Trivia: Northampton put 53 points on Newcastle in last season's clashes.

Stats: At 66, the Saints have conceded the fewest amount of turnovers in the Aviva Premiership this season. Newcastle are midtable having coughed up possession on 82 occasions.

Quote Unquote:

"We want our players to have ambitions to represent their country and it is a fact of life that if you are successful there are times of the season when you have to do without some of your players. But we believe that our squad has the depth we need to stay at the top end of the league table." - Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder.

"We all probably had a sleepless night last Friday after the Saracens game, but you just have to move on and that's the beauty of this league. Northampton away is a big enough challenge for us to focus on without doubt, especially when you look at what they did down at Wasps last weekend." - Newcastle boss Alan Tait.

Fantasy: With 41 points, Soane Tonga'uiha leads the way for front row forwards ahead of nearest challenger Schalk Brits, the Tongan is a must have for serious contenders.

Prediction: Even without their England boys the Saints should have far too much ammunition for the Falcons.

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