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Match Preview: Northampton Saints (A)



Fixture: Northampton Saints vs London Irish

Competition: Gallagher Premiership, Round 2

Date: 17th September 2022

Kick-off: 2pm

Stadium: cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens

Capacity: 15,200


London Irish is back on the road this weekend for a first away trip of the Gallagher Premiership season, with Northampton Saints lying in wait at the cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens.

Phil Dowson’s side welcome Irish to the Midlands after the Exiles continued their excellent run of home form against Worcester Warriors (losing just once in their last 14), with the 45-14 result also being the first opening day win of the Premiership since 2019 for Irish.

The Boys in Green not only top of the charts in the Gallagher Premiership overall standings, but amassed the most points (45), tries (7) and turnovers won (9) in Round 1 and rank in the top five teams in carries (131), tackles (151) and visits to the 22 (10).

Saints conversely managed a losing bonus point in their away visit to Sale Sharks, finishing with a flurry through a Tom Collins brace and an Ollie Sleightholme try that meant the Franklin’s Gardens side walked away with something from the 29-22 defeat.

The vivacious style of the game employed by Saturday’s hosts was still evident in defeat, having topped the defenders beaten chart with (29), and also in top five of metres gained (505) and visits to 22 (10).

Whilst Irish’s win means they have lost just one of their last four league games, Northampton’s record is inversed with just one win in as many games, coming in a 65-26 victory at home against Newcastle Falcons in June.

In the time being, the East Midlanders have replenished their stock with nine new signings, namely Queensland Reds duo Angus Scott-Young and Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, and scrum-half Callum Braley, formerly of Benetton Treviso.

The boss- Phil Dowson:

Possessing a distinguished playing career in his extensive repertoire, Dowson won the Powergen and Anglo-Welsh Cups twice, one each with Newcastle Falcons and Northampton Saints, also playing a part in the latter’s double winning side of the 2013/14 season.

Dowson spent eight seasons at Kingston Park with Falcons, two of which as captain, before a switch further south to Northampton where he earned his first England cap after time with the Saxons squad in numerous Churchill Cup tournaments.

Attaining a decorated stint with the side in Black, Green and Gold, the former back-row forward spent two seasons with Worcester Warriors where he reached 262 Premiership appearances, the joint third highest in the division.

Upon completion of his playing days, he then re-joined Northampton as Assistant Coach, impressing with a quick progression to being named as Forwards Coach ahead of the 2018/19 season, as well as coaching an England XV against the Barbarians in 2019.

In the 2022/23 campaign, Phil Dowson enters his first season in charge of at the Club he made 186 appearances for, ascending from the Forwards Coach position whilst operating under previous Director of Rugby, Chris Boyd.

One to watch- Lukhan Salakaia-Loto:

Salakaia-Loto was one of three debutants for Saints last week, joined by Sam Graham and former Queensland Reds teammate Angus Scott-Young in their maiden Saints run-outs against Sale Sharks.

On his debut, the second-row forward made 24 metres from 11 carries (second-most of any forward), seven passes including two offloads, nine tackles, one defender beaten, whilst also winning and stealing a lineout.

The Australian international joined from the Super Rugby Pacific outfit after a seven-year stay, with Director of Rugby Phil Dowson praising the abrasiveness and adaptability of Salakaia-Loto as well as Scott-Young in their first game.

Having represented Australia in the 2015 and 2016 World Rugby Under-20s Championships and then making his Test debut against South Africa in 2017, the versatile 25-year-old earned 30 caps for his country to date including five in the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

Cutting an imposing 6’6”, 121kg frame able to slot in amongst the back row, Salakaia-Loto started his rugby career in the league code with Western Suburbs before representing Randwick in Sydney.

Classic Encounter- London Irish 25-23 Northampton Saints – 26th December 2015 – Aviva Premiership:

The Exiles earned a satisfying win over Northampton Saints in their Christmas fixture at the Madejski Stadium in 2015, a late penalty try being the only divider between the sides.

Luke Narraway and Sean Maitland lifted the home side into the ascendency with two first-half scores, although Ken Pisi bit back to bring his men back into the conversation.

Pisi’s score set the tone for second period, Saints leapfrogging Irish with smart scores from George North and Kahn Fotuali’I to establish a five-point swing.

Nevertheless, a late penalty try was awarded following a dominant set-piece from the Exiles and victory stayed with Tom Coventry’s side in Reading.

London Irish

Tries: Luke Narraway, Sean Maitland, Penalty try

Conversions: Chris Noakes, Shane Geraghty

Penalties: Chris Noakes (2)

Northampton Saints

Tries: Ken Pisi, George North, Kahn Fotuali’i

Conversion: Steven Myler

Penalties: Steven Myler (2)

Pre-match patter:

Northampton Saints Director of Rugby Phil Dowson has confirmed that Wales international out-half Dan Biggar will be in contention to play against London Irish in Round 2 of the Gallagher Premiership this weekend.

“Dan Biggar’s available, we’re just waiting and seeing,” Dowson revealed this week.

“He’s not done much contact so we look at the GPS data, we talk to the medics and the S&C and decide at what point they’re ready to go or if they’re ready for a position on the bench.”

Whist also announcing that forwards David Ribbans and Ehren Painter have returned to training, Dowson also said that his Club’s England tourists of Australia will have to face another week away from the pitch.

“We’ve got guys coming back in this week and then the following week the England guys are available,” Dowson said.

“I can’t pick them this week, as you have to apply for special dispensation.

“Courtney played a lot of minutes on tour, Lewis played a lot of minutes on tour, and we try to give those guys a proper off-season.

“We’d love to have them available to play against Irish, but we trust the depth of the squad and we know that in the long term we need to look after those guys in terms of player welfare.”

Content & Images from – London Irish Rugby





Sale Sharks have agreed a deal to sign Fiji captain Waisea Nayacalevu from French Top14 side Toulon. 

The explosive centre, who starred for his country during the recent World Cup, has signed a one-year contract with an option for a further year. 

He will join up with Alex Sanderson’s Sharks squad ahead of the start of the 2024/25 Gallagher Premiership season. 

Waisea, 33, said: “I’ve watched the Premiership for a long time and it’s always been in the back of my mind that I would love to play there one day and experience rugby in England. 

“Now that opportunity has arrived and I’m really, really happy and grateful. I’m so excited to get over there and join the boys and see how I can contribute to the team. 

“I have spoken to Telusa Veainu and he only has positive things to say about the club and about Manchester. 

“I’m looking forward to playing with some of the guys I’ve played against, like Tom Curry and George Ford. But I also know there are a lot of really talented young players in the Sale Sharks squad and I’m excited to share my experience and help them develop as much as I can.  

“I told Alex that it’s what I’ve been doing for the last few years of my career and it’s something I’m passionate about.” 

Nayacalevu, who stands at 6’4” and weighs in at 16st 7lb, spent ten years at Top14 side Stade Français before making the switch to Toulon in 2022.  

He has won 34 caps for Fiji, slotting in at both centre and on the wing, and captained his country at last year’s World Cup, where the Pacific Islanders made the quarter-finals, losing 30-24 to England in Marseille. 

He also famously scored for Fiji in their memorable pre-World Cup win against England at Twickenham. 

Images & Content from Sale Sharks Rugby

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Falcons star to join Saracens



Phil Brantingham to join Saracens

Tuesday 05 March 2024 Written by: Tom Grisedale

Prop-forward Phil Brantingham will leave Newcastle Falcons in the summer to join Saracens.

The 22-year-old has played 25 games for his home town club, and leaves with the thanks and best wishes of everyone at the Falcons.

Chairman of rugby Matt Thompson said: “Phil has done well for us and we made him a good offer to stay here.

“We respect his decision and wish him all the best for his move in the summer, but between now and then he will be fully committed to finishing the season strongly for Newcastle Falcons.”

Source – Newcastle Falcons Rugby

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Sale Sharks can confirm that forward Cobus Wiese will leave the club at the end of the season to return to South Africa. 

The 26-year-old lock has played almost 80 games for the club and scored five tries since joining from the DHL Stormers ahead of the 2020/21 season. 

He played a key role last year as Sale reached the Premiership final, and this season he has featured a further 13 times for Alex Sanderson’s side. 

Alex said: “Cobus will be missed by all of us on so many levels. He’s the most polite and courteous of people off the field, but the most wildly excitable man on the field, and on a night out. 

“To say Cobus wears his heart on his sleeve is to do him a disservice with regards to his emotional commitment for which his body has paid the price on occasion.  

“He leads by example and has earnt the respect and adoration of the group both on a professional and a personal level. We wish him every success and happiness with his move back home.” 

Everyone at Sale Sharks would like to thank Cobus for his contribution to the club and the team during his time here and we wish him all the very best for the future.  

Images & Content from Sale Sharks Rugby

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