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Biggar, Francis and Wood return as Saints host Sale Sharks

Director of Rugby Chris Boyd has named his Northampton Saints side to take on Sale Sharks this weekend, with internationals Dan Biggar, Piers Francis and Tom Wood all returning to the starting XV.

The men in Black, Green and Gold make four changes in total for Saturday’s clash at Franklin’s Gardens (kick-off 2pm), following a thumping 59-33 victory over Newcastle Falcons last weekend which saw the side book their spot in the Premiership Rugby Cup final.

Saints are now unbeaten in five matches on home soil in all competitions, and will be determined to keep that run going against a Sale side that just edged the last meeting between the teams back in November.

Tom Wood will wear the No.8 jersey and leads out Northampton after impressing off the bench last weekend, with Teimana Harrison missing out through injury.

The rest of the back row remains unchanged however with flankers Jamie Gibson and Lewis Ludlam – both of whom got on the scoresheet last weekend – packing down either side of Wood.

It’s largely as you were in the tight five too; Francois van Wyk, James Fish and Ehren Painter make up the front row for the second week running, but Alex Moon comes into the engine room to join Api Ratuniyarawa with David Ribbans ruled out.

Fly-half Dan Biggar and inside centre Piers Francis headline the changes to Saints backline – with the No.10 recalled after two weeks on international duty with Wales, and Francis available again following a shoulder injury.

Scrum-half Cobus Reinach will hope to continue his electrifying Gallagher Premiership form alongside Biggar in the half-back axis, while last weekend’s man-of-the-match Rory Hutchinson has earned a first league start of the season in the midfield.

Meanwhile Saints’ back three is unchanged after Taqele Naiyaravoro, Ahsee Tuala and George Furbank all notched tries in last Saturday’s triumph.

England under-20 international Alex Coles is in line for his Gallagher Premiership debut if he is introduced from the bench, while there is also room for the likes of Alex Waller, Paul Hill, Heinrich Brüssow, Luther Burrell and Tom Collins amongst Northampton’s experienced replacements.

Tickets for Northampton Saints vs Sale Sharks (Saturday 16 February, kick-off 2pm) are still available from £28 for adults and £12 for juniors. CLICK HERE to book your place now.

NORTHAMPTON SAINTS vs SALE SHARKS
Gallagher Premiership Rugby, Round 13
Saturday 16 February 2019
Franklin’s Gardens
Kick-off: 2pm

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

1 Francois Van Wyk
2 James Fish
3 Ehren Painter
4 Api Ratuniyarawa
5 Alex Moon
6 Jamie Gibson
7 Lewis Ludlam
8 Tom Wood (c)

Replacements:
16 Reece Marshall
17 Alex Waller
18 Paul Hill
19 Alex Coles
20 Heinrich Brüssow
21 Alex Mitchell
22 Luther Burrell
23 Tom Collins

Not available for selection:
Andy Symons (knee), Harry Mallinder (knee), Tom Emery (shoulder), Mikey Haywood (knee), Dylan Hartley (knee), David Ribbans (illness) and Teimana Harrison (hamstring).