Tom Wood, Rob Horne, Ben Foden and Campese Ma’afu all return to Northampton Saints’ starting line-up to take on Bath Rugby at the Rec on Friday evening.
The visitors head back into Aviva Premiership action full of confidence after four wins in their last five matches in all competitions, booking themselves a spot in the Anglo-Welsh Cup semi-finals last week.
It was a last-gasp triumph against Gloucester Rugby in their most recent Aviva Premiership outing that kick-started that run of form, and Saints will be hoping to continue that in Bath where they boast a superb recent record – they have lost just once on their last seven visits to the Rec.
Technical coaching consultant Alan Gaffney and interim head coach Alan Dickens have made four changes from the side that notched up five tries against Harlequins last time out.
Two of those come in the back-line with Rob Horne coming back into the fray at outside centre after a couple of weeks of rest, while Ben Foden steps back onto the wing to bring an experienced head to what will be a hostile atmosphere under the floodlights of the Rec.
Ken Pisi took his 2018 try tally to five in five matches last time out and keeps his place on the other wing, while the half-back axis of Piers Francis and Cobus Reinach is also unchanged.
There is one change in the front row, with loosehead Campese Ma’afu coming in to join Mikey Haywood and Kieran Brookes, and Tom Wood is the only change at the back of the scrum – the 31-year-old will wear the No.6 jersey for Saints.
David Ribbans (who was the unlikely two-try hero when Saints beat Bath back in September), Francois van Wyk and Nafi Tuitavake all switch to the bench, where there is also room for Harry Mallinder who was released by England earlier in the week.
BATH RUGBY V SAINTS TEAM NEWS
Aviva Premiership Rugby, Round 14
The Recreation Ground
Friday 9th February, 2018
15 Ahsee Tuala
14 Ken Pisi
13 Rob Horne
12 Tom Stephenson
11 Ben Foden
10 Piers Francis
9 Cobus Reinach
16 Reece Marshall
17 Francois van Wyk
18 Jamal Ford-Robinson
19 David Ribbans
20 Ben Nutley
21 Nic Groom
22 Harry Mallinder
23 Nafi Tuitavake
Alex Waller, Jamie Elliott, Luther Burrell, and James Craig are unavailable for selection.