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Eight changes for Saints ahead of clash with Bayonne

Phil Dowson has made eight changes to his Northampton Saints side for Round 3 of the Investec Champions Cup, as Aviron Bayonnais head to cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens this Friday (12 January, kick-off: 8pm). 

Saints, who have won ten out of their last eleven matches in all competitions, sit at the top of Pool 3 after two rounds with victories over Glasgow Warriors and RC Toulon keeping them unbeaten in the tournament thus far. 

And Northampton will look to maintain their winning streak – which stretched to seven matches in a row after last weekend’s 36-42 triumph away at Exeter Chiefs – as they welcome Bayonne to Northampton for the first time in the Club’s history. 

George Furbank captains the side from fullback in the third round of the tournament, with Tommy Freeman returning to the starting XV to join Furbank and last weekend’s hat-trick scorer Ollie Sleightholme in Saints’ back three. 

Fraser Dingwall starts on Friday alongside Rory Hutchinson – who scored the match-winning try in Exeter – in Northampton’s midfield, while Alex Mitchell and Fin Smith both start in Saints’ half-backs against Bayonne. 

Alex Waller returns from injury to start in the front row alongside hooker Curtis Langdon and tighthead prop Trevor Davison, with Temo Mayanavanua and Alex Coles packing down behind them in the second row. 

Courtney Lawes – who claimed the Gallagher Premiership Player of the Month award for December earlier this week – returns to Saints’ starting line-up at blindside flanker against Bayonne, with Tom Pearson and Sam Graham also named in the back row (at openside flanker and No.8 respectively) to complete the starting XV. 

Dowson opts for a 6-2 split on his bench this Friday, with the likes of Sam Matavesi, Emmanuel Iyogun, Juarno Augustus, Angus Scott-Young and Tom Litchfield all set to make an impact from amongst the replacements – while Tom James returns to the matchday squad following a suspension.

NORTHAMPTON SAINTS vs AVIRON BAYONNAIS
Investec Champions Cup, Round 3
Friday 12 January, 2024
cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens
Kick-off: 8pm

15 George Furbank (c)
14 Tommy Freeman
13 Fraser Dingwall
12 Rory Hutchinson
11 Ollie Sleightholme
10 Fin Smith
9 Alex Mitchell

1 Alex Waller
2 Curtis Langdon
3 Trevor Davison
4 Temo Mayanavanua
5 Alex Coles
6 Courtney Lawes
7 Tom Pearson
8 Sam Graham

Replacements:
16 Sam Matavesi
17 Emmanuel Iyogun
18 Elliot Millar Mills
19 Alex Moon
20 Juarno Augustus
21 Angus Scott-Young
22 Tom James
23 Tom Litchfield

Not available for selection:
George Hendy, Paul Hill, Lewis Ludlam, Burger Odendaal, James Ramm and Tom Seabrook.

BAYONNE TEAM TO FACE SAINTS:
15 Aurélien Florian Callandret, 14 Nadir Megdoud, 13 Cheikh Tiberghien, 12 Eneriko Buliruarua, 11 Remy Baget, 10 Thomas Dolhagaray, 9 Maxime Machenaud; 1 Swan Cormenier, 2 Facundo Bosch, 3 Tevita Tatafu, 4 Denis Marchois (c), 5 Manuel Leindekar, 6 Rémi Bourdeau, 7 Baptiste Heguy, 8 Rodrigo Bruni (Back row).
Replacements: 16 Vincent Giudicelli, 17 Mathis Perchaud, 18 Pascal Cotet, 19 Lucas Paulos, 20 Uzair Cassiem, 21 Kléo Labarbe, 22 Tom Spring, 23 Yan Lestrade.

Referee: Mike Adamson (Sco)
Assistant referees: Ian Kenny (Sco) and David Sutherland (Sco)
TMO: Hollie Davidson (Sco)

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