Louise Warr is licking her lips at the prospect of two powerful backrows going head to head at Allianz Park on Sunday

Times Series: England international Billy Vunipola returned to action against Ulster last weekend. Picture: Action Images England international Billy Vunipola returned to action against Ulster last weekend. Picture: Action Images

Sunday’s game will be billed as the battle of the top two.

A clash with history, anticipation and more often than not, a lot of niggle.

Saracens have failed to beat Northampton Saints on the past four occasions, including last year’s semi-final match-up at Allianz Park.

The pair have been neck and neck all season, and go into the game on the back of booking places in their respective European semi-finals.

There are mouth-watering match ups across the park, but for me nothing catches the eye more than the battle of the powerhouse back rowers.

The victory over in Ulster saw the return of Billy Vunipola in Man of the Match winning style.

Injuries forced a full 80 minutes out of the 21 year old England international and his performance throughout the game, along with the defensive superhero that is Brad Barritt, sealed the deal for Mark McCall’s men in nailbiting circumstances.

During his absence, Saracens missed the constant go-forward provided by the younger of the two Vunipola brothers, an element of the game that will be vital come Sunday.

His opponent this week, the San Francisco steam roller Samu Manoa is fresh from international duty with the USA Eagles.

The 29 year old has been the standout performer all season, not only for the Saints, but in the Premiership as a whole.

His ability to crash through even the tightest of defences has made him an integral cog in Jim Mallinder’s side.

Manoa has caused the usually watertight wolfpack defence a series of problems over recent meetings, scoring three tries in the process.

Both players will be looking to unleash their talented backlines with all eyes being on the clash of the wings as former Saint Chris Ashton takes on Welsh international George North.

The two have racked up 23 tries between them already this season and the fast artificial surface at Allianz Park looks set to create a few more.

No matter who gets the upper hand on Sunday, one thing that is for sure is that sparks are going to fly.

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