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Graham, Smith and Seabrook return for Saints against Saracens

Sam Graham, Fin Smith and Tom Seabrook all make their return from injury to start for Northampton Saints this weekend, as the men in Black, Green and Gold take on second-place Saracens in Round 8 of the Gallagher Premiership. 

Saints head to London on Saturday (2 December, kick-off: 4.30pm) off the back of a tight 36-33 victory over Harlequins at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens – which left them sitting sixth in the Premiership table, just three points behind this week’s opposition Saracens.

Northampton go in search of their first win at the StoneX Stadium since 2019 having won four of their last five league matches, with Saints – the Premiership’s leading tacklers (with a league high tackle success of 91%) – hoping to add a fifth win to their tally on Saturday. 

George Furbank captains Northampton in the absence of injured club captain Lewis Ludlam, the 27-year-old shifting out to fullback this weekend to join incoming Seabrook and Ollie Sleightholme – who crossed the whitewash twice on his first start of the season last week. 

Fraser Dingwall and Tommy Freeman are again preferred in Saints’ midfield, with the latter set to bring up a half century of Premiership appearances at the StoneX. 

Smith recovers from the back spasm that kept him out of Saints’ clash with Quins to take his place at fly-half, and Tom James starts the match to partner Smith in the half-backs for the first time since Round 4. 

Phil Dowson names an unchanged tight five for Saturday’s clash, with Ethan Waller, Sam Matavesi and Trevor Davison retaining their places in the front row while Chunya Munga and Alex Coles pack down in Saints’ engine room once again. 

No. 8 Graham returns to provide the only change in the back row for Northampton, while Courtney Lawes and Tom Pearson remain at blindside and openside flanker respectively for Saints. 

And there is a potential Club debut for Fiji international Temo Mayanavanua as he returns to full fitness to take his place amongst Saints’ replacements. While the likes of Curtis Langdon, Angus Scott-Young, Alex Mitchell and George Hendy are also set to make an impact should they enter the action from the bench. 

Gallagher Premiership, Round 8
Saturday 2 December, 2023
StoneX Stadium
Kick-off: 4.30pm

15 George Furbank (c)
14 Tom Seabrook
13 Tommy Freeman – 50th Premiership appearance
12 Fraser Dingwall
11 Ollie Sleightholme
10 Fin Smith
9 Tom James

1 Ethan Waller
2 Sam Matavesi
3 Trevor Davison
4 Chunya Munga
5 Alex Coles
6 Courtney Lawes
7 Tom Pearson
8 Sam Graham

16 Curtis Langdon
17 Alex Waller
18 Elliot Millar Mills
19 Temo Mayanavanua – Northampton Saints debut
20 Angus Scott-Young
21 Alex Mitchell
22 Tom Litchfield
23 George Hendy

Not available for selection:
Juarno Augustus, Tom Cruse, Will Glister, Rory Hutchinson, Emmanuel Iyogun, Lewis Ludlam, Joel Matavesi, Burger Odendaal and James Ramm.

15 Alex Goode, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Lucio Cinti, 12 Nick Tompkins, 11 Tom Parton, 10 Manu Vunipola, 9 Ivan van Zyl; 1 Tom West, 2 Theo Dan, 3 Alec Clarey, 4 Maro Itoje (c), 5 Theo McFarland, 6 Juan Martin Gonzalez, 7 Andy Christie, 8 Billy Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Christian Judge, 19 Hugh Tizard, 20 Toby Knight, 21 Aled Davies, 22 Olly Hartley, 23 Alex Lewington.

Referee: Christophe Ridley
Assistant referees: Andrew Jackson and Greg Macdonald
No. 4: Calum Howard
TMO: Rowan Kitt

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