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Northampton Saints v London Wasps - HEC Semi Final



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Northampton Saints v London Wasps

All Discussion Here!!!
I'm so gutted they put it on the Sunday. Saturday would have been, but Sunday I have to go back to Uni in the opposite direction.

But then again I missed the last European semi we reached and look what happened there. (We won the competition for those of you ignorant of our hour of glory)

The only consolation is that I will be back in my favourite pub to watch it.

Just like the last round, I predict we will get humped. End of...?
But then again I missed the last European semi we reached and look what happened there. (We won the competition for those of you ignorant of our hour of glory)
Wasn't that the semi against the llanelli when the ball hit the crossbar with the last kick? :cryy:
Or am I thinking of a different match?
But then again I missed the last European semi we reached and look what happened there. (We won the competition for those of you ignorant of our hour of glory)

Wait...you guys used to...win and stuff? :blink:

Joking! :bana:
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But then again I missed the last European semi we reached and look what happened there. (We won the competition for those of you ignorant of our hour of glory)
Wasn't that the semi against the llanelli when the ball hit the crossbar with the last kick? :cryy:
Or am I thinking of a different match?

No, it was the match where one your neanderthal forwards (someone other than Scott Quinnell) conceded an utterly pointless penalty at a ruck for Grayson to put us in front with almost the last kick of the match.

Apparently it was the first kick he had taken since knocking out Wasps in very similar circumstances in the quarters. We deserved it anyway, if only for Quinnell's thuggish forearm smash to Dawson's face.

Makes me well up just thinking of the good old days. May have to dig out the video of this match, was a much better spectacle than the final.
Saints will ... win? Such an odd thought. But hell, yeah! And by 10 points. They can score trie ... a try ... or maybe scratch up two penos and a DG that bounces off someone's backside. So 9 points. Championes!

Err ... good luck with that.
I'm going and really looking forward to it. Should be interesting coz I'm taking my Dad and he really doesn't have a clue about rugby and probably doesn't know who any of the players are! Ah well.
I think Saints can win this if they can build on Sunday's performance coz although they lost, they did play well.
But then, this is the Saints we are talking about and they can never seem to string 2 good performances in a row.... I mean we beat Tigers and then lost, and then beat Biarritz and had a dreadful game vs Newcastle.....
Just have to wait and see I guess.
Wasps' shite away form makes me slow to back them in this one, 2 proper away wins all season doesn't bode well.
I'm tempted to put a tenner on Saints if the odds are good. Of course I have a record of jinxing teams I love :lol: but yeah. Should be interesting. I wonder if Myler will be back because really...Myring at fly half doesn't instil me with any confidence whatsoever.
If Myler was fit then I wouldn't mind so much, but the thought of Luke "what's an overlap" Myring at 10 doesn't instill particular confidence.

13 Jon Clarke
12 Robbie Kydd
3 John Brooks
4 Damien Browne
5 Christian Short
7 Ben Lewitt
8 Daniel Browne

16 Dan Richmond
20 Johnny Howard
21 Seamus Mallon
22 Paul Diggin


15 Mark Van Gisbergen
14 Paul Sackey
13 Fraser Waters
12 Dominic Waldouck
11 Tom Voyce
10 Danny Cipriani
9 Eoin Reddan
1 Phil Vickery
2 Raphael Ibanez
3 Peter Bracken
4 Simon Shaw
5 Tom Palmer
6 Joe Worsley
7 Tom Rees
8 Lawrence Dallaglio ©

16 Joe Ward
17 Nick Adams
18 Dan Leo
19 James Haskell
20 Mark McMillan
21 Josh Lewsey
22 Alex King

Precocious: Dan Cipriani[/b]

What a twisted web is being woven at Franklin's Gardens! Northampton Saints find themselves at the Mad Hatter's crossroads: they are just two games away from clinching the coveted Heineken Cup and potentially just 80 minutes away from dropping through the trapdoor that nestles at the foot of the Guinness Premiership.

Should the Saints be sent down next week, they will be able to supplement their readjusted income with a little script-writing - their story has all the ingredients of a Hollywood block-buster.

It began, as all good Westerns do, with the arrival of a posse of out-of-towners on the search of a quick buck - if you were to believe Steve Thompson, that is.

The Saints stalwart recently broke ranks and identified what he believed to be the cancer at the heart of the former European champions - too many "so-called big-name foreign stars".

"As soon as you sign players who think they're bigger than the club, you've got problems," said the former England hooker.

"We've got players who were built up to be much bigger than they ever were. They never really bought into the club ethos. If you don't do that, then the club's got a major headache."

He might have a point. The on-going tension between the English members of the Saints squad and the foreign imports first emerged during the tenure of former coach Alan Solomons.

The South African and several of his compatriots were ousted after a small but brutal civil war that saw club captain Paul Grayson assume the throne.

Hampered by the closure of Northampton's rugby academy, the inexperienced Grayson was forced to take a leaf out of Solomons's book and went on a shopping spree of his own.

South Africans were exchanged for New Zealanders and the cracks in the squad re-opened.

"He's obviously got a chip on his shoulder," was Carlos Spencer's response to Thompson's outburst.

"We don't need people who have been a part of the team to be firing shots like that," said Mark Robinson.

Unsurprisingly, Grayson has reported that training ahead of Sunday's semi-final encounter with London Wasps at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry has been peppered with "argy-bargy" and has claimed, somewhat optimistically, that the ****le is merely "healthy competition".

Egos and angst aside, Northampton's drama has plenty of juicy cameos, not least the cloud hanging over one of the only bright lights of their season.

Dylan Hartley, Northampton's promising young hooker, is in danger a suspension of up to two years after being cited for "making contact with the eye areas of three opponents" in last week's Guinness Premiership scrap with ... London Wasps. Yes, the plot thickens!

But Hartley will not face Wasps on Sunday, as the regulations restrict cited players from playing until they have had their hearing. Matias Cortese takes his place.

There is better news in the backs though, with Spencer declared fit to play despite being rated only 30-70 by Grayson earlier in the week.

Then, after missing a week's action thanks to a facial injury suffered at Newcastle, San Sebastian hero Robbie Kydd returns at inside centre. Saints skipper Bruce Reihana, who filled in at 12 last week, returns to his more familiar position of full-back. Paul Diggin drops to the bench.

So will Northampton's story turn out to be a tale of heroism or in the face of adversity or an out-on-out tragedy? That depends heavily on Sunday's visitors.

Wasps are right where they want to be. They love nothing better than tearing the carpet out from underneath the feet of deserving and needy teams - and they have proved themselves to be pretty good at that dastardly manoeuvre.

A bold selection sees teenager Dan Cipriani facing up to Spencer in the number ten shirt, the shirt in which he orchestrated Wasps' defeat of the Saints in last week's dress rehearsal.

Cipriani's academy team-mate Dominic Waldouck starts outside him, with the teenagers flanked by the experience of a quintet of capped internationals in the remainder of the black and gold backline.

With McGeechan still spoilt for choice in his back three, despite the diversion of Cipriani, there is disappointment for England star Josh Lewsey.

With Lewsey, Paul Sackey, Tom Voyce and Mark Van Gisbergen all fit and available, McGeechan has gone with Tom Voyce, who missed out on last weekend's game with a bruised foot, and Sackey, who played his first game in 13 weeks against Saints last Sunday, and making an immediate impact on his return with two tries against Northampton.

Van Gisbergen, who clocked up 15 points last weekend after taking over kicking duties from the absent King, keeps his place at full-back.

Wasps' forwards pack shows only one change from the pack that dominated Leinster so comprehensively in the Heineken Cup quarter-final at Adams Park three weeks ago.

That change comes in the front row, where Wasps are without England prop Tim Payne, out for the rest of the season with a knee injury. In his absence, England captain Phil Vickery shuffles across to loosehead to allow Peter Bracken to come in at tighthead.

Whilst the cameras fixed on the tottering Saints and treble-chasing Tigers, Wasps are moving up on the outside. They are on the search of a double themselves, and are hitting form just at the right time once again.

It seems unlikely the mutinous Midlanders will be able hold off the masters of last-lap rugby, but desperation is at the heart of every act of true courage.

Northampton knocked out the favourites on the road in the quarter-finals, so why can't they pull off a home(-ish) win in the semis? It does seem a little far-fetched, but as the Saints know all too well, truth can be stranger than fiction.

Ones to watch:

For Northampton: Keep a close eye on the back-row, for it has been a constant source of penalties to the opposition this season, and Wasps are no strangers to putting the squeeze on and wringing a few kicks out of opponents.

For Wasps: Paul Sackey has slipped off the England radar since his ****ly knee injury put pay to his Six Nations aspirations, but on the big stage and opposite Ben Cohen, Sackey has the perfect chance to get himself back into RWC contention.

Head-to-head: Carlos Spencer (Northampton) v Dan Cipriani (Wasps). King Carlos ought to have the nous and physical upper hand but Cipriani is a precocious talent - and Spencer might be carrying an injury. We will see what happens when the youngster runs at the older head, but one thing is for sure, these two pivots promise an open game.

Prediction: Saints to pull it off and win by a point!

The teams:

Northampton Saints: 15 Bruce Reihana (capt), 14 Sean Lamont, 13 Jon Clarke, 12 Robbie Kydd, 11 Ben Cohen, 10 Carlos Spencer, 9 Mark Robinson, 8 Daniel Browne, 7 Ben Lewitt, 6 Paul Tupai, 5 Christian Short, 4 Damien Browne, 3 John Brooks, 2 Matias Cortese, 1 Tom Smith.
Replacements: 16 Dan Richmond, 17 Soane Tonga'uhia, 18 David Gerard, 19 Christian Labit, 20 Johnny Howard, 21 Luke Myring, 22 Paul Diggin.

London Wasps: 15 Mark Van Gisbergen, 14 Paul Sackey, 13 Fraser Waters, 12 Dominic Waldouck, 11 Tom Voyce, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Eoin Reddan, 8 Lawrence Dallaglio ©, 7 Tom Rees, 6 Joe Worsley, 5 Tom Palmer, 4 Simon Shaw, 3 Peter Bracken, 2 Raphael Ibanez, 1 Phil Vickery.
Replacements:16 Joe Ward, 17 Nick Adams, 18 Dan Leo, 19 James Haskell, 20 Mark McMillan, 21 Josh Lewsey, 22 Alex King.

Date: Sunday, April 22
Venue: Ricoh Stadium, Coventry
Kick-off: 15:00 (14:00 GMT)
Referee: Alan Lewis (Ireland)
Now this is an interesting setup, both having things to play for in the league and for Northampton, surely survival should be at the top of their interests however a European Cup Final would give them a Huge boost in confidence...

Wasps haven't been playing away from home to well this season, and Northampton just haven't been able to fire properly.

Sense would put their money on Wasps, but the Heart say's Northampton..

One thing is for sure its gonna be a tough game for both sides.
The Games Underway at the Ricoh!!!

3 Minutes in and Try Northampton!!!

Split wasps right down the middle, Fantastic Try... And its Converted from Way Out Wide by the try scorer Reihana...

Northampton 7 - 0 Wasps

Converted Penalty from Northampton

10 - 0

Yet another Penalty Converted by Northampton

13 - 0 - 17 minutes played
I don't have a TV (the TV in college is occupied by f***ing snooker). But 13-0 sounds rather amazing :D although I hope Saints know what to do with a lead, we've not had one often this season...

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