Northampton Saints v Sale Sharks, Aviva Premiership, April 2
Saints out to continue revival
April 1, 2011
Sale's Ben Cohen is felled by the Northampton defence during their clash at Edgeley Park © Getty Images
Northampton are out to add weight to their recent revival when they play host to Sale at Franklin's Gardens on Saturday.
Bolstered by the return of their international stars, the Saints swept Wasps aside 39-3 to re-ignite their campaign after losing their way in recent weeks. Elsewhere, the Sharks eased their relegation fears with a narrow 15-12 victory over basement side Leeds.
In what will be their penultimate home outing in the regular season, Northampton will be keen to cement their place in the top four and will take heart from their 19-10 victory over the Sharks at Edgeley Park earlier in the season. Premiership survival remains Sale's number one priority but their away record does not make great reading with a 6-3 success at Leeds their only win on the road this season.
Northampton - Player to Watch: England fullback Ben Foden was in the news for the wrong reasons this week, he'll want to ensure that people are talking about his form again rather than taxi incidents.
Northampton - Team News: Calum Clark is recalled at blindside in place of Phil Dowson, who drops to the bench. Foden is again joined in the back-three by Paul Diggin and Chris Ashton.
Sale - Player to Watch: Flanker Dave Seymour returns from injury to start and will want to ensure a tough time for the Saints at the breakdown.
Sale - Team News: Henry Thomas continues at tight-head in the absence of the banned Karena Wihongi, while Rob Miller returns from injury among the replacements.
Key Battle: The Saints will want to provide plenty of quick, clean ball to their exciting backline, expect the scrum and lineout exchanges to be vital.
Trivia: Northampton's 39-3 victory over London Wasps last weekend was their biggest win for five years.
Stats: Sale have won just one of their last seven encounters with Northampton - a 24-18 victory at Edgeley Park in 2009 - and have not won at Franklin's Gardens since 2006.
"Their 8,9 and 10 are very strong which is always an important area and they also have two quality wingers in Ben Cohen and Mark Cueto. They have threats all over the field and we need to make sure we are on our game." - Northampton boss Jim Mallinder praises their opposition.
"Over a period of three years, I recruited many of the players who have done so well for Northampton Saints. They may have hit a lean patch earlier this year, but are sure to benefit from the return of their international players." - Sale boss Steve Diamond will be up against some familiar faces.
Fantasy: Northampton winger Chris Ashton was back among the tries last weekend and if you dropped him for the Six Nations then it may be time to draft him back into your ESPNscrum Fantasy Rugby Game team?
Prediction: The Saints have rediscovered their winning form and with their international players back, expect a long afternoon for the Sharks.
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