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Cruse to lead Saints in preseason opener at Bedford Blues

Tom Cruse will take on the captain’s armband this weekend, as Northampton Saints kick their season off at Bedford Blues. 

The hooker will lead the men in Black, Green and Gold at Goldington Road this Saturday (26 August, kick-off: 1.30pm), with a 27-man squad – comprised of senior heads, new faces and Academy talent – named for the preseason friendly clash. 

Saints have claimed victories in both iterations of the preseason match with Blues since the two clubs signed a strategic partnership back in 2020, running out 40-21 winners in the first clash at Goldington Road in 2021 before claiming a 40-26 victory on Northampton soil last season, and Phil Dowson’s men will be hoping to make it three in a row as they make the short trip to Bedford on Saturday. 

Hooker Cruse will lead Saints for the first time, with new Saint Elliott Millar Mills and guest player Luke Green (formerly of London Irish and San Diego Legion) packing down either side of him at prop. 

Emeka Atuanya starts in Northampton’s engine room and is joined there by Angus Scott-Young, who starts in the second row for the first time in his Saints career.

Saints name a youthful back row, with 18-year-old duo Reuben Logan and Henry Pollock set to make their first appearances since signing senior professional contracts with the Club last term; while No. 8 James Cherry (on loan from Nottingham Rugby) guests in Saints’ back row.

Scrum-half Archie McParland partners James Grayson in the half-back berths against Blues, while Joel Matavesi and Tom Litchfield – who both featured for the Championship side last season as part of Saints’ strategic partnership with Bedford – link up in Saints’ midfield. 

And there will be a first chance to see summer signing Tom Seabrook at Goldington Road as he lines up on Saints’ wing alongside Senior Academy first year Will Glister, with fullback George Hendy rounding off the back three. 

Saints take an extended bench to Bedford to allow players to get important game minutes before the regular season gets underway, with the likes of Aston Gradwick-Light, George Patten, Ed Prowse, Jake Garside, Matthew Arden and Ewan Baker set to enter the action. 

There’s also room on Northampton’s bench for a number of other guest players as Izaiha Moore-Aiono (formerly London Irish), Theo Vukasinovic (formerly Wasps and Doncaster Knights), Toby Fricker (formerly Bristol Bears), plus Henri Lavin and Oscar Daniel (both on loan from Loughborough University) are all named amongst Saints’ replacements. 

Saturday 26 August, 2023
Goldington Road
Kick-off: 1.30pm

15 George Hendy
14 Will Glister
13 Tom Litchfield
12 Joel Matavesi
11 Tom Seabrook
10 James Grayson
9 Archie McParland

1 Luke Green*
2 Tom Cruse (c)
3 Elliot Millar Mills
4 Emeka Atuanya
5 Angus Scott-Young
6 Reuben Logan
7 Henry Pollock
8 James Cherry*

16 Aston Gradwick-Light
17 Craig Wright
18 George Patten
19 Ed Prowse
20 Theo Vukasinovic*
21 Izaiha Moore-Aiono*
22 Henri Lavin*
23 Jake Garside
24 Matthew Arden
25 Toby Fricker*
26 Oscar Daniel*
27 Ewan Baker

*Denotes guest/loan player

15 Matt Worley; 14 Pat Tapley, 13 Ethan Grayson, 12 Jordan Venter, 11 Dean Adamson, 10 Will Maisey, 9 James Lennon; 1 Jamie Jack, 2 James Fish (c), 3 Bryan O’Connor, 4 Robin Williams, 5 Alex Woolford, 6 Jac Arthur, 7 Kieran Curran, 8 Joe Howard.
Replacements: Joey Conway, Jacob Fields, Oisín Heffernan, Jordan Onojaife, Luke Frost, Cameron King, Alex Day, Louis Grimoldby, Seán French, Ed Coulson.

Referee: Joe James
Assistant referees: Charlie Gayther and Veryan Boscawen

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