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Four changes for Saints ahead of trip to Saracens

Director of Rugby Chris Boyd has made four changes to his Northampton Saints side for this weekend’s Gallagher Premiership trip to Saracens.

Courtnall Skosan, Dan Biggar, and Ehren Painter all return to the visitors’ starting line-up on Saturday evening (kick-off: 5.30pm), while flanker Aaron Hinkley also makes his first league start in Black, Green and Gold as Saints look to keep their top-four destiny in their own hands.

Northampton have won on their last two visits to the StoneX Stadium, and depending on results elsewhere this weekend, a third straight success in North London could see Boyd’s side qualify for the Premiership semi-finals for the first time since the 2018/19 campaign with a game to spare.

Lewis Ludlam captains Saints but moves into the No.8 jersey against Saracens with Juarno Augustus ruled out through injury, meaning that alongside England international Courtney Lawes, there is room in the back row for Hinkley – who, following a trial period at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens and an impressive performance last time out against Harlequins, is now signed on until at least the end of this season.

Alex Coles and Api Ratuniyarawa continue in the engine room for Northampton, while in the front row Painter’s return from a long-term injury sees him straight into the starting XV at tighthead, packing down alongside loosehead Emmanuel Iyogun and Mike Haywood at hooker.

Fly-half Biggar returns from suspension to partner in-form No.9 Alex Mitchell, with Fraser Dingwall and Matt Proctor the preferred pairing in Saints’ midfield.

George Furbank continues at fullback as Skosan – scorer of 10 Premiership tries in just 14 league outings so far this season – slots into the back three on his return from injury, alongside Tommy Freeman on the other wing.

There is plenty of firepower amongst the replacements for Saints, with Sam Matavesi, Paul Hill, Brandon Nansen and Rory Hutchinson all adding international experience and the likes of Alex Waller, Tom James and Ollie Sleightholme hoping to make an impact off the bench.

SARACENS vs NORTHAMPTON SAINTS
Gallagher Premiership Rugby, Round 25
Saturday 21 May 2022
StoneX Stadium
Kick-off: 5.30pm

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

1 Emmanuel Iyogun
2 Mike Haywood
3 Ehren Painter
4 Alex Coles
5 Api Ratuniyarawa
6 Courtney Lawes
7 Aaron Hinkley
8 Lewis Ludlam (c)

Replacements:
16 Sam Matavesi
17 Alex Waller
18 Paul Hill
19 Alex Moon
20 Brandon Nansen
21 Tom James
22 Rory Hutchinson
23 Ollie Sleightholme

Not considered for selection:
Matthew Arden, Juarno Augustus, Conor Carey, Teimana Harrison, Ollie Newman, David Ribbans, and Tom Wood.

Referee: Matthew Carley
Assistant referees: Greg Macdonald and John Meredith
No.4: Harry Walbaum
TMO: Dean Richards

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