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Northampton clash crucial to play-off hopes, says Wasps boss Dai Young

Wasps rugby director Dai Young says Sunday's Aviva Premiership clash against Northampton will have "huge significance" for his side's play-off hopes.

Saints will arrive at the Ricoh Arena seven points behind Wasps with four games left, while Young's men know that victory will see them take a giant stride towards securing an all-important top four finish.

"Sunday's match will have huge significance in how it is going to finish in the table," said Young, whose team lie third going into the play-off home run.

"If we can get a win, it would open up a bit of a gap and put a bit of pressure on other teams behind us to try to squeeze us out of the top four.

"A win for Northampton, would see them breathing right down our necks, with momentum behind them as we hit the final run-in."

Wales lock Bradley Davies, who is understood to be a major summer signing target for the Ospreys, returns to make his first Wasps appearance since the RBS 6 Nations, packing down alongside England international Joe Launchbury.

Thomas Young, George Smith and Nathan Hughes form the Wasps back-row trio, while scrum-half Craig Hampson, who impressed on his Premiership debut at Newcastle last weekend, starts instead of an injured Dan Robson and Frank Halai is recalled on the wing.

England captain Dylan Hartley, who was carried off during the second half of last month's Grand Slam triumph in Paris, remains absent for Saints' trip to Coventry, with flanker Tom Wood skippering a side that features four changes from the victory over Harlequins last time out.

Centre Harry Mallinder, scrum-half Kahn Fotuali'i, lock Christian Day and number eight Sam Dickinson all start, with Samoa international number nine Fotuali'i thought to be in the final throes of his Northampton career before joining their Premiership rivals Bath next season.

"Saints are a really strong side, who are again timing their run well," Young added.

"I am sure they will want to set the record straight after our win at Franklin's Gardens earlier in the season, and they will throw everything at us on Sunday, so we need to be ready and at our absolute best.

"At this stage of the season, every point won or lost could prove critical."


From Belfast Telegraph