Saints eye two in a row
September 10, 2010
Will Northampton's Soane Tonga'uiha be amongst the tries again at The Stoop? © Getty Images
Northampton Saints are out to make it two from two after kicking off their Aviva Premiership season with a win over the reigning champions, Leicester. They face a trip to the Stoop and a tough encounter with Harlequins who drew with Wasps at Twickenham in round one.
The Saints hit the ground running and will be brimming with confidence, while Conor O'Shea's Quins showed a few green shoots from recovery as they fought back to seal a share of the points at the double header.
Harlequins - Player to Watch: Danny Care saw Northampton's Lee Dickson steal the headlines last weekend. Can the Quins scrum-half issue a reminder to England manager Martin Johnson at The Stoop?
Harlequins - Team News: Quins field the same side that went toe-to-toe with Wasps with the recently re-signed Nick Evans set to call the shots from No.10.
Northampton Saints - Player to Watch: Openside Tom Wood celebrated his Saints debut with a man-of-the-match performance against Leicester - can he reproduce that kind of form?
Northampton Saints - Team News: Shane Geraghty takes over the Saints No.10 shirt from an out-of-sorts Stephen Myler who must make do with a place on the bench. Two-try hero Soane Tonga'uiha looms large once again in the front row.
Key Battle: Northampton's front row rose to the occasion against the Tigers last weekend and will no doubt be in bullish mood as they square up to their Quins counterparts. Watch out for fireworks.
Trivia: Northampton have not beaten Harlequins at the Stoop since September 2004, but did win the 2009 European Challenge Cup there, beating Bourgoin 15-3.
Stats: Northampton have not begun their Premiership season with back-to-back wins since 2004-05.
Odds: Following their opening day success, Northampton are 10/3 with Bet365 to claim the title.
"Nick is a world class player who fits everything that this club wants to be and is also hugely motivated to win silverware with Quins. I am also sure he will continue to help in the development of the 20-year-old Rory Clegg." - Quins director of rugby Conor O'Shea hails the influence of Nick Evans.
"Harlequins have good facilities and a good surface and you can play rugby. Two years ago we played badly and lost. Last year we played badly and lost, but we got a bonus point, so we're actually going on an upward trend." - Saints boss Jim Mallinder
Fantasy: It's round two of ESPN Fantasy Rugby this weekend and there are plenty of options available in this one. Last weekend's big hitter for the Saints was rampaging prop Tonga'uiha, who scored twice, while Quins fly-half Nick Evans was in irresistible form.
Prediction: Northampton issued a warning to the rest of the Premiership last weekend but face a Quins side brimming with attacking intent. Expect Saints to edge a high-scoring encounter.
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies
Tom Hamilton runs the rule over just where the six countries stand ahead of the global gathering in September