Friday 19 January 2018

Ian Madigan wary of Northampton backlash

Ian Madigan
Ian Madigan

Northampton Saints must suffer deja vu from last week, not last year, according to Leinster fly-half Ian Madigan.

Leinster are gunning for a quickfire double over the east midlands men in Heineken Cup Pool One action at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday night.

Matt O'Connor's side thumped six tries past Northampton in 40-7 victory at Franklin's Gardens last weekend.

Playmaker Madigan knows full well Northampton are keen to emulate their two-week turnaround in the Ulster double-header of December 2012.

Ulster eased past Northampton 25-6 at Franklin's Gardens this time last year, only for the Saints to grind out a 10-9 victory at Ravenhill just a week later.

Leinster are keen to ensure Jim Mallinder's men do not have history on their side in Dublin.

"We played well at the weekend but we know that Northampton will really challenge us," Madigan told Leinster's official club website.

"They are still very much in the competition, they have great pride as well.

"Ulster went to Franklin's Gardens and beat them, but then Northampton went to Ravenhill and won well, so we've just got to make sure that history doesn't repeat itself."

Madigan starts at fly-half ahead of Jimmy Gopperth for the second week running, admitting boss O'Connor's faith has given him a welcome boost.

He said: "It was a massive vote of confidence for Matt to pick me.

"I was under no illusions what a huge game it was for me."

Centre Brian O'Driscoll's brace last week leaves his European try tally at 33, just two away from matching France wing Vincent Clerc's all-time record.

In Saturday's other late kick-off Connacht will be hoping lightning can strike twice when they host the Heineken Cup's most successful team in Galway.

Toulouse have won the premier European competition four times, more than anyone else, and have also finished runners-up twice.

That did not stop Pat Lam's side registering a stunning 16-14 victory at Stade Ernest Wallon last weekend.

Connacht's squad was struck by widespread flu this week, but former Samoa loose forward Lam is confident his players have recovered.

"Our week was certainly disrupted with an outbreak of the flu affecting 12 squad members," Lam told Connacht's official website.

"We were restricted in what we could do but these things are out of our control and thankfully a lot of the guys are feeling better after some rest.

"We're playing a vengeful Toulouse who will come here determined to turn around last week's defeat."

London Irish will have to beat the statistics to pull off the double over Stade Francais in Paris in the Amlin Challenge Cup's late kick-off on Saturday night.

Irish top pool five going into round four, after last weekend's 24-13 win over Stade in Reading.

The last time Stade lost at home in the Amlin was to Wasps, 10 years ago.

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