Director of rugby Chris Boyd has made four changes to Northampton Saints’ line-up ahead of this weekend’s vital clash at Exeter Chiefs.
After making his injury return off the bench in Saints’ victory over Worcester Warriors last time out, Piers Francis is fit to start against the Gallagher Premiership leaders at Sandy Park.
Meanwhile Boyd has shuffled his pack with Paul Hill, Alex Moon and Lewis Ludlam all selected as the men in Black, Green and Gold look to complete a season’s double over the Chiefs – having won a dramatic December showdown between the sides 31-28 at Franklin’s Gardens.
Saints enter the game on a three-game winning streak in the league, and one more victory at Exeter would guarantee them a return to the Premiership’s semi-finals for the first time since 2015.
Alex Waller skippers the side with Reece Marshall packing down at hooker and England international Hill named at tighthead after impressing off the bench against Worcester.
Moon returns to Northampton’s second row after shaking off an ankle injury that has kept him out since the beginning of April, and the 22-year-old joins Courtney Lawes in the engine room.
The final change to Saints’ pack sees flanker Ludlam selected on the openside, with Jamie Gibson and No.8 Teimana Harrison keeping their places in the back row.
Dan Biggar, Cobus Reinach and Francis all crossed for superb tries against the Chiefs earlier in the season, and are named again for the trip to Sandy Park with Land Rover Discovery of the Season nominee Rory Hutchinson completing the midfield.
Meanwhile, for the third-straight match fullback Ahsee Tuala and explosive wingers Taqele Naiyaravoro and Tom Collins make up the back three for Saints.
There is also room on the bench for fit-again duo James Fish and David Ribbans, with James Grayson and Alex Mitchell providing half-back cover amongst the replacements.
EXETER CHIEFS vs NORTHAMPTON SAINTS
Gallagher Premiership Rugby, Round 22
Saturday 18 May, 2019
Sandy Park, Exeter
15 Ahsee Tuala
14 Tom Collins
13 Rory Hutchinson
12 Piers Francis
11 Taqele Naiyaravoro
10 Dan Biggar
9 Cobus Reinach
1 Alex Waller (c)
2 Reece Marshall
3 Paul Hill
4 Alex Moon
5 Courtney Lawes
6 Jamie Gibson
7 Lewis Ludlam
8 Teimana Harrison
16 James Fish
17 Francois van Wyk
18 Ben Franks
19 David Ribbans
20 Tom Wood
21 Alex Mitchell
22 James Grayson
23 Luther Burrell
Not available for selection:
Andy Symons (knee), Harry Mallinder (knee), Mikey Haywood (knee), Paddy Ryan (knee), Heinrich Brüssow (concussion), James Haskell (toe), and George Furbank (concussion).