Heineken Cup Pool 1: Ospreys v Northampton match preview
Last Updated: 12/01/14 3:37pm
Northampton head to Wales knowing that anything less than maximum points against Ospreys will end their already faint hopes of progress in this year's Heineken Cup.
The Saints restored some pride, and kept their European campaign alive, with a superb victory on Leinster's home patch last time out, but a thumping defeat by the Irish outfit in the reverse fixture and a loss away at Castres look to have left them with too much to do to reach the knockout stages.
Jim Mallinder's men must secure a bonus-point win at the Liberty Stadium on Sunday and do the same again when they host a disinterested Castres in the final round.
But even then they will be relying on a slip-up from Leinster, who lead Pool 1 by four points, while, as things stand, three teams - the Blues, Saracens and Leicester - are better placed to qualify as a best runners-up.
Pride is all that basement boys Ospreys have to play for with just a solitary victory against Castres to show for their four outings thus far.
Fly-half Dan Biggar lines up alongside Rhys Webb behind a strong looking pack, despite the fact that tighthead Adam Jones must make do with a place on the replacements bench.
"Sunday is going to be a massive game," said head coach Steve Tandy.
"There's a big, typically English team, who are flying high in the league and Europe, coming to the Liberty and both teams need the win, so it's going to be explosive and physical. I'm sure it'll be a great contest."
Northampton, meanwhile, go for a former Osprey in Kahn Fotuali'i at scrum-time ahead of England's Lee Dickson.
Dylan Hartley captains the side while George North is on the left wing and will go up against Canadian international Jeff Hassler at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea.
Ospreys: 15 Fussell, 14 Hassler, 13 Isaacs, 12 Beck, 11 Natoga, 10 Biggar, 9 Webb; 1 Bevington, 2 Hibbard, 3 Jarvis, 4 Jones (capt), 5 Evans, , 6 Lewis, 7 Tipuric, 8 Bearman.
Replacements: 16 Scott Baldwin, 17 Jones, 18 Jones, 19 King, 20 Allen, 21 Habberfield, 22 Davies, 23 Spratt.
Northampton: 15 Collins, 14 Elliott, 13 Pisi, 12 Burrell, 11 North, 10 Myler, 9 Fotuali'I; 1 Waller, 2 Hartley (capt), 3 Ma'afu, 4 Lawes, 5 Day, 6 Clark, 7 Wood, 8 Manoa.
Replacements: 16 Haywood, 17 Waller, 18 Mercey, 19 Dickinson, 20 Dowson, 21 Dickson, 22 Dickson, 23 Autagavaia
Watch Ospreys v Northampton on Sky Sports HD2 on Sunday from 12pm