Director of Rugby Chris Boyd has made six changes to his Northampton Saints side to face Leicester Tigers in Saturday’s East Midlands Derby at Mattioli Woods Welford Road.
The men in Black, Green and Gold have lost just once on their travels in all competitions so far in 2021, but come up against a Leicester outfit in form on home soil, having won their last six home matches in their best run since 2016.
But Northampton have been victorious on two of their last three visits to Welford Road in Premiership Rugby and, with six league matches left to play and a play-off spot still to play for, will fancy their chances again as the local rivals lock horns for the first time this season.
David Ribbans and Alex Moon continue in the visitors’ engine room, while there is just one change in the back row as Tom Wood starts in place of the injured Nick Isiekwe, with co-captain Lewis Ludlam and No.8 Teimana Harrison keeping their spot in the side.
Boyd makes just two changes to his back-line after a six-try win over London Irish last week, with Matt Proctor returning from injury on the wing, and Rory Hutchinson picked at centre.
The Scotland international partners Piers Francis in Northampton’s midfield, with half-backs Alex Mitchell and Dan Biggar continuing at No.9 and No.10 respectively after catching the eye against the Exiles.
Ollie Sleightholme will be hoping to maintain his exceptional try-scoring run for Saints, having crossed the whitewash nine times in his last six appearances, and George Furbank rounds off the starting XV at fullback.
Meanwhile Tommy Freeman recovers from a knee injury to take his place amongst the replacements for Northampton against his former side, with the likes of Paul Hill, Ahsee Tuala, Tom James and Shaun Adendorff also ready to make an impact off the bench.
LEICESTER TIGERS vs NORTHAMPTON SAINTS
Gallagher Premiership Rugby, Round 17
Saturday 24 April 2021
Mattioli Woods Welford Road
15 George Furbank
14 Matt Proctor
13 Rory Hutchinson
12 Piers Francis
11 Ollie Sleightholme
10 Dan Biggar
9 Alex Mitchell
1 Alex Waller (co-capt)
2 Sam Matavesi
3 Ehren Painter
4 David Ribbans
5 Alex Moon
6 Tom Wood
7 Lewis Ludlam (co-capt)
8 Teimana Harrison
Not available due to injury:
Owen Franks (foot), Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi (achilles), Nick Isiekwe (pectoral), Courtney Lawes (pectoral), Taqele Naiyaravoro (calf), Ryan Olowofela (ankle), Api Ratuniyarawa (shoulder), and Kayde Sylvester (achilles).
Referee: Karl Dickson
Assistant referees: Wayne Falla and Rob Warburton
No.4: Hamish Smales
TMO: Nigel Carrick