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50s up for Hutchinson and Ludlam as Saints host Gloucester

Director of rugby Chris Boyd has made just three changes to his side as Northampton Saints welcome Gloucester Rugby to a sold-out Franklin’s Gardens this weekend.

Piers Francis, Tom Wood and Francois van Wyk all return to the starting line-up for the men in Black, Green and Gold, while both Rory Hutchinson and Lewis Ludlam will bring up a half-century of appearances for the Club on Saturday (kick-off 2pm).

The hosts will be looking to preserve their 100 percent home winning record in the Gallagher Premiership this season, having won their last four league matches at Franklin’s Gardens – but the Cherry & Whites were the last visiting side to leave Northampton with a victory in the competition back in April.

England international Francis returns at inside centre in an otherwise unchanged back-line for Saints, with Hutchinson switching outside into the 13 jersey.

George Furbank, Tom Collins and Taqele Naiyaravoro are all named again in Northampton’s back three, with Dan Biggar and Cobus Reinach hoping to run the show from the half-back berths.

Loosehead prop van Wyk comes into the front row to join Mikey Haywood and Ehren Painter, with the only other change to the pack seeing Wood – who missed Saints’ defeat to Sale Sharks through illness – return to take his spot at flanker alongside Ludlam.

That means that while Alex Moon keeps his place at lock, Courtney Lawes shifts back into the engine room, and Club co-captain Teimana Harrison leads out Northampton in the number eight jersey.

Saints are also given a boost amongst their replacements, with the likes of lock David Ribbans and scrum-half Henry Taylor set to make their injury returns from the bench.

NORTHAMPTON SAINTS vs GLOUCESTER RUGBY
Gallagher Premiership Rugby, Round Seven
Saturday 28 December 2019
Franklin’s Gardens
Kick-off: 2pm

15 George Furbank
14 Tom Collins
13 Rory Hutchinson
12 Piers Francis
11 Taqele Naiyaravoro
10 Dan Biggar
9 Cobus Reinach

1 Francois van Wyk
2 Mikey Haywood
3 Ehren Painter
4 Alex Moon
5 Courtney Lawes
6 Tom Wood
7 Lewis Ludlam
8 Teimana Harrison (c)

Replacements:
16 Sam Matavesi
17 Alex Waller
18 Paul Hill
19 Api Ratuniyarawa
20 David Ribbans
21 Henry Taylor
22 Andrew Symons
23 Ahsee Tuala

Referee: Karl Dickson
Assistant referees: Jonathan Healy & Tim Wigglesworth
TMO: Sean Davey

Not available for selection:
Alex Mitchell (knee), Reuben Bird-Tulloch (hand), Tommy Freeman (illness), Jamie Gibson (ankle), Ollie Sleightholme (head), and Matt Proctor (head).