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Biggar and Matavesi return for Big Game showdown at Twickenham

Dan Biggar and Sam Matavesi both return to Northampton Saints’ starting XV on Monday, as Chris Boyd’s side lock horns with Gallagher Premiership champions Harlequins at Twickenham.

The men in Black, Green and Gold make three changes in total to the team that narrowly went down to Ulster in Belfast last time out, with Juarno Augustus also coming back into the line-up in the No.8 jersey.

This will be the third time Saints have run out in the annual Big Game clash at HQ, with one game won apiece between Northampton and Quins so far – but Boyd’s side have won their last two away games against the reigning champions in the Premiership (Exeter in 2020/21 and Saracens in 2019/20).

Lewis Ludlam will lead out the men in Black, Green and Gold at Twickenham – the flanker is joined in the back row by fellow England international Courtney Lawes and No.8 Augustus.

Meanwhile David Ribbans and Api Ratuniyarawa are selected together for the third week running in Northampton’s engine room, with props Alex Waller and Ehren Painter continuing in the front row either side of Fiji hooker Matavesi.

Boyd makes just one change to Saints’ back line from the side that lined up against Ulster, with Wales fly-half Dan Biggar returning to the No.10 jersey and George Furbank shifting to fullback.

That means Alex Mitchell continues at scrum-half and centres Matt Proctor and Fraser Dingwall are preferred in Northampton’s midfield, while Ollie Sleightholme and Courtnall Skosan – who boasts nine tries from eight appearances so far in Saints colours – complete the line-up on the wings.

Boyd can call on an experienced bench at Twickenham, with the likes of Tom Wood, Paul Hill, Rory Hutchinson and Ahsee Tuala all named amongst the replacements and aiming to make an impact in the latter stages of the clash.

HARLEQUINS vs NORTHAMPTON SAINTS
Gallagher Premiership Rugby, Round 11
Monday 27 December 2021
Twickenham Stadium
Kick-off: 5pm

15 George Furbank
14 Ollie Sleightholme
13 Matt Proctor
12 Fraser Dingwall
11 Courtnall Skosan
10 Dan Biggar
9 Alex Mitchell

1 Alex Waller
2 Sam Matavesi
3 Ehren Painter
4 David Ribbans
5 Api Ratuniyarawa
6 Courtney Lawes
7 Lewis Ludlam (c)
8 Juarno Augustus

Replacements:
16 Mike Haywood
17 Nick Auterac
18 Paul Hill
19 Alex Coles
20 Tom Wood
21 Tom James
22 Rory Hutchinson
23 Ahsee Tuala

Not considered for selection:
Callum Burns, Tommy Freeman, Teimana Harrison, Oisín Heffernan, Dani Long-Martinez, Alex Moon, Taqele Naiyaravoro, and Kayde Sylvester.

Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant referees: Anthony Woodthorpe and Jamie Leahy
No.4: Simon Harding
TMO: Stuart Terhegee

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