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Harrison returns for Saints in Premiership Rugby Cup final

Teimana Harrison returns to Northampton Saints’ line-up for the first time in five weeks for Sunday’s winner-take-all Premiership Rugby Cup showdown against Saracens.

The fit-again 26-year-old pulls on the No.8 jersey as one of four changes to the starting XV made by director of rugby Chris Boyd, with the hosts hoping to collect their first piece of silverware in almost five years at a sold-out Franklin’s Gardens (kick-off 3pm).

Saints are without a competitive victory over the north-London outfit since 2015, but the last time the Club scooped a trophy, Saracens were the opposition on a famous afternoon at Twickenham – and most of the 15,000-strong crowd will be desperate to see them channel that spirit once again on Sunday.

In one of two changes to the pack, loosehead Alex Waller starts and captains Northampton, with Harrison the other addition after shaking off the hamstring injury which has kept him out of action since early February.

That means hooker Reece Marshall and tighthead Paul Hill pack down again in the front row, with locks Alex Moon and Api Ratuniyarawa also selected in the engine room.

All-action flankers Tom Wood and Lewis Ludlam complete the pack, with two further changes made in the back line after last weekend’s narrow defeat to Bristol Bears.

No.9 Alex Mitchell comes into the half-back axis to join James Grayson, with the young Saints pair impressing together throughout this season’s Cup competition so far.

Meanwhile in the midfield, Boyd has called on one of his most experienced operators and brings in Luther Burrell to play outside Piers Francis – with the 15-time England international knowing exactly what it takes to win finals, having been a double-winner in 2014.

Northampton’s back three however is retained, with wingers Taqele Naiyaravoro and Ahsee Tuala and fullback George Furbank hoping to continue their try-scoring form, with all three players crossing the whitewash last time out.

Saints’ replacements are not short of firepower either, with the likes of Cobus Reinach, Rory Hutchinson and Tom Collins offering explosive pace if introduced off the bench.

Premiership Rugby Cup, Final
Sunday 17 March 2019
Franklin’s Gardens
Kick-off: 3pm

15 George Furbank
14 Ahsee Tuala
13 Luther Burrell
12 Piers Francis
11 Taqele Naiyaravoro
10 James Grayson
9 Alex Mitchell

1 Alex Waller (c)
2 Reece Marshall
3 Paul Hill
4 Alex Moon
5 Api Ratuniyarawa
6 Tom Wood
7 Lewis Ludlam
8 Teimana Harrison

16 James Fish
17 Francois Van Wyk
18 Ben Franks
19 James Craig
20 Jamie Gibson
21 Cobus Reinach
22 Rory Hutchinson
23 Tom Collins

Not available for selection:
Andy Symons (knee), Harry Mallinder (knee), Mikey Haywood (knee), Dylan Hartley (knee), Ehren Painter (calf), Courtney Lawes (calf), Paddy Ryan (knee), James Haskell (toe), Fraser Dingwall (ankle), and David Ribbans (ankle).

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