Rugby Union: Andrew issues warning to his Falcons as Saints welcome back Scots Townsend and Stewart

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The Independent Online
Northampton are ideally poised to end Newcastle's 100 per cent league record this season when first and fourth in the Premiership meet at Franklins Gardens today. Saracens, second to Newcastle, face an equally tough task at Richmond and as fate would have it, both fixtures are repeated in the Tetley's Bitter Cup next month.

"Northampton have won seven of their last eight," said Newcastle's director of rugby, Rob Andrew. "They are the form team. If we are not at our best we will lose against a team of real quality."

Andrew's confidence, however, has been bolstered by winning at "the most testing venues of all, Bath and Leicester". The Falcons have allied the formidable Va'aiga Tuigamala and Alan Tait in the centre to combat the twin threat of Matt Allen and Gregor Townsend.

Northampton welcome back five players. Townsend and Matt Stewart were with Scotland in Italy last weekend and missed the Saints' 30-11 Cup victory over Gloucester. Former England internationals, winger John Sleightholme and fullback Ian Hunter, and second row forward Jason Chandler have all recovered from injury.

Saracens and Richmond are both newly invigorated after cup wins over Leicester and Bath last weekend. Sarries' captain, Tony Diprose, said: "Beating Leicester means that we are good enough for the best, but we need a lift in our away form. We have survived and won some narrow games, but you can't always live on a knife-edge away."

Tomorrow, Wasps should continue their revival when they host 11th-placed Bristol, while Sale will expect to overcome London Irish.

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