Tommy Freeman will start on the wing for Northampton Saints this weekend as Director of Rugby Chris Boyd makes just one change to his starting line-up to play Bristol Bears on Saturday.
The men in Black, Green and Gold ran out convincing 42-22 winners against London Irish last weekend, and largely stick with that winning formula as they go in search of their fifth straight win following back-to-back Gallagher Premiership and Premiership Rugby Cup victories.
There’s also a significant milestone in the offing for hooker Mike Haywood, who is set to make his 250th Saints appearance should he come off the bench during the clash at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens.
Lewis Ludlam will lead out Northampton on home soil and is joined in the back row by England flanker Courtney Lawes and No.8 Juarno Augustus.
The completely unchanged pack sees David Ribbans and Api Ratuniyarawa named in the engine room together for the 15th time this season, with props Alex Waller and Paul Hill either side of Fiji hooker Sam Matavesi in the front row.
Freeman replaces the injured Courtnall Skosan on the wing for his first league start since early December, with the in-form Tom Collins – winner of the Premiership’s Try of the Week and Player of the Week awards last weekend – and fullback George Furbank completing the back three.
Fraser Dingwall and Rory Hutchinson start in an unchanged midfield for Saints, with Dan Biggar and Alex Mitchell continuing in the half-back berths to round off the starting XV.
While Haywood headlines the list of replacements on his 250th appearance in Black, Green and Gold, there is also room for centre Matt Proctor after his recovery from injury, and England Under-20s fullback George Hendy is rewarded for his stellar Cup performances with a place on the bench in the Premiership for the first time.
NORTHAMPTON SAINTS vs BRISTOL BEARS
Gallagher Premiership Rugby, Round 22
Saturday 2 April 2022
cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens
15 George Furbank
14 Tommy Freeman
13 Fraser Dingwall
12 Rory Hutchinson
11 Tom Collins
10 Dan Biggar
9 Alex Mitchell
1 Alex Waller
2 Sam Matavesi
3 Paul Hill
4 David Ribbans
5 Api Ratuniyarawa
6 Courtney Lawes
7 Lewis Ludlam (c)
8 Juarno Augustus
16 Mike Haywood (250th appearance for Saints)
17 Nick Auterac
18 Conor Carey
19 Alex Moon
20 Alex Coles
21 Tom James
22 Matt Proctor
23 George Hendy
Not considered for selection:
Matthew Arden, Emeka Atuanya, Piers Francis, Teimana Harrison, Oisín Heffernan, Emmanuel Iyogun, Ollie Newman, Ehren Painter, Courtnall Skosan, Ollie Sleightholme, Kayde Sylvester, and Tom Wood.
Referee: Karl Dickson
Assistant referees: Joe James and Wayne Falla
No.4: James Clarke
TMO: David Rose
* All tickets subject to £1.50 booking fee.