Teimana Harrison will captain Northampton Saints as they travel to Rodney Parade to face Dragons in the European Challenge Cup – with Director of Rugby, Chris Boyd, making eight changes to his starting line-up this Saturday (kick-off 5.30pm).
The last time Saints came out on the wrong end of a competitive fixture in Newport was 2006, and Northampton head into this weekend’s Round of 16 clash hoping to extend their 100 per cent winning record over Dragons in the Challenge Cup.
However, the hosts have only lost three of their last 18 Challenge Cup home matches, and the men in Black, Green and Gold must tip the scales on those stats if they are to progress to the quarter-final stage of the competition.
As many as 12 of Northampton’s starting line-up have progressed through the Club’s Academy, with Harrison – himself an Academy graduate – leading out the side wearing No.8, and flankers Nick Isiekwe and JJ Tonks joining him in the back row.
Ehren Painter retains his spot at tighthead prop as Nick Auterac and Mikey Haywood move into the starting line-up to complete the front row, while Alex Coles and Alex Moon pack down in the engine room.
Alex Mitchell and James Grayson continue their partnership in the half-back berths, but there is a change outside them in Northampton’s midfield as Fraser Dingwall starts alongside Rory Hutchinson.
Taqele Naiyaravoro returns to the side with Ollie Sleightholme – scorer of four tries against Worcester Warriors last time out – on the opposite wing, and fullback Harry Mallinder rounds off an almost entirely Academy-produced backline.
Prop Oisín Heffernan, signed from Nottingham in February, is set to make his Saints debut from the bench, while Alex Waller, Shaun Adendorff, Ahsee Tuala and Tom Collins are also named amongst the replacements and will hope to make an impact in Newport.
Saints will be wearing black armbands at Rodney Parade in tribute to former players Frank Packman and Clive Patrick Daniels, who both sadly passed away in recent days.
Both wore the Black, Green and Gold jersey on more than 300 occasions – two of only 23 players in the Club’s history to do so. Our thoughts are with Frank and Clive’s family and close friends at this difficult time.
DRAGONS vs NORTHAMPTON SAINTS
European Challenge Cup, Round of 16
Saturday 3 April 2021
15 Harry Mallinder
14 Ollie Sleightholme
13 Fraser Dingwall
12 Rory Hutchinson
11 Taqele Naiyaravoro
10 James Grayson
9 Alex Mitchell
1 Nick Auterac
2 Mikey Haywood
3 Ehren Painter
4 Alex Moon
5 Alex Coles
6 Nick Isiekwe
7 JJ Tonks
8 Teimana Harrison (c)
16 Sam Matavesi
17 Alex Waller
18 Oisín Heffernan
19 Lewis Bean
20 Shaun Adendorff
21 Henry Taylor
22 Ahsee Tuala
23 Tom Collins
Not available due to injury:
Dan Biggar (abdominal), Owen Franks (foot), George Furbank (calf), Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi (achilles), Courtney Lawes (pectoral), Lewis Ludlam (cheek), Matt Proctor (calf), Api Ratuniyarawa (shoulder), David Ribbans (face) and Kayde Sylvester (achilles).
Referee: Alexandre Ruiz
Assistant Referees: Craig Evans and Aled Evans
TMO: Patrick Dellac
Citing Commissioner: Ciaran Scally