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Tuesday, 22 January, 2019

Saints look more dangerous back on home soil

Composure key for Leinster to topple Ulster

Northampton made it three home wins out of three in the Premiership against Harlequins
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Northampton v Wasps
BT Sport 2, 3pm Saturday
Ulster v Leinster
Sky Action & BBC2 Northern Ireland, 6.30pm Saturday

Wasps rode the storm of five straight defeats with an emphatic and significant victory over Harlequins last week but it would be dangerous to think they have turned the corner as they head to Northampton.

The worst of their injury crisis has eased but fly-half Danny Cipriani is still sidelined while number eight Nathan Hughes starts a two-match suspension.

Hughes is a significant absentee as his ball-carrying plays a big part in getting Wasps across the gain line.

Northampton lost at Gloucester last time out in the Premiership before suffering back-to-back defeats in Europe, but those were against last season's finalists Saracens and Clermont. Saints are third in the Premiership, have won three out of three at home scoring 11 tries, and can edge this one.

Leinster will be full of confidence for their trip to Belfast's Kingspan Stadium after two impressive European efforts and they can get the better of an Ulster side who are flying high but still look a little unsettled.

The good news for Ulster is that Rory Best make his first start while fly-half Christian Lealiifano has been passed fit after going off with a tight hamstring in last week's defeat to La Rochelle.

However, with scrum-halves Paul Marshall and John Cooney unavailable Aaron Cairns is named to make his first start of the season, having appeared just once before for the province.

Leinster have rung the changes from their European successes, but even with players of the calibre Jonny Sexton and Robbie Henshaw missing they are able to recall Lions Rob Kearney and Sean O'Brien.

Composure and consistency is key in hard-fought derby clashes and the Leinster line-up look better able to deliver.

Cardiff enjoyed significant wins over the top two teams in the Top 14 in the European Challenge Cup, but are 12-point underdogs for their trip to Scarlets (S4C, 7.35pm).

Northampton to win by one to 12 points
1pt 21-10 Coral
2pts 21-20 bet365

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Saints are third in the Premiership, have won three out of three at home scoring 11 tries, and can edge this one
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