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Hutchinson brings up Saints century in East Midlands Derby showdown

Rory Hutchinson will notch up his 100th appearance for Northampton Saints in this Friday evening’s East Midlands Derby against Leicester Tigers.

Director of Rugby Chris Boyd makes just two changes to the side that beat Worcester Warriors in Northampton’s last Gallagher Premiership fixture a fortnight ago, with the men in Black, Green and Gold enjoying a bye in the last round of action.

Saints have won on four of their last five visits to Mattioli Woods Welford Road, but with Leicester sitting top of the league standings and unbeaten on home soil so far this term, Northampton will have to fire on all cylinders to prevent the Tigers recording their first East Midlands double in five seasons.

Fraser Dingwall will skipper the visitors in the Premiership for the second time, and partners centurion Hutchinson in Saints’ midfield.

George Furbank is selected at fly-half having been released from England duty during the week, and partners No.9 Alex Mitchell – statistically the league’s most dangerous player with five tries and nine assists so far this term.

Meanwhile the returning Courtnall Skosan – who has scored eight tries in as many Premiership appearances this season – marks the only other change to Saints’ back line from the side that claimed a bonus-point win at Sixways, with Ollie Sleightholme lining up on the other wing and fullback Ahsee Tuala completing the back three.

Up front, Boyd sticks with the pack that started against Worcester; props Alex Waller and Paul Hill pack down either side of hooker Sam Matavesi in the front row for the fourth Premiership match running.

Locks David Ribbans and Api Ratuniyarawa will provide the ballast from the engine room, while Tom Wood and Teimana Harrison are selected in the flanker berths and Juarno Augustus pulls on the No.8 jersey for Northampton.

Amongst the replacements for Saints, Karl Wilkins and Conor Carey are primed for their first taste of an East Midlands Derby, and the likes of Tom James, James Grayson and Matt Proctor will also look to make an impact off the bench.

LEICESTER TIGERS vs NORTHAMPTON SAINTS
Gallagher Premiership Rugby, Round 16
Friday 11 February 2022
Mattioli Woods Welford Road
Kick-off: 7.45pm

15 Ahsee Tuala
14 Ollie Sleightholme
13 Fraser Dingwall (c)
12 Rory Hutchinson
11 Courtnall Skosan
10 George Furbank
9 Alex Mitchell

1 Alex Waller
2 Sam Matavesi
3 Paul Hill
4 David Ribbans
5 Api Ratuniyarawa
6 Tom Wood
7 Teimana Harrison
8 Juarno Augustus

Replacements:
16 Mike Haywood
17 Emmanuel Iyogun
18 Conor Carey
19 Alex Coles
20 Karl Wilkins
21 Tom James
22 James Grayson
23 Matt Proctor

Not considered for selection:
Matthew Arden, Emeka Atuanya, Tommy Freeman, Jake Garside, Oisín Heffernan, Lewis Ludlam, Alex Moon, Taqele Naiyaravoro, and Kayde Sylvester.

International Duty:
Dan Biggar (Wal), Ethan Grayson (Eng U20), George Hendy (Eng U20), Courtney Lawes (Eng), Tom Litchfield (Eng U20), and Tom Lockett (Eng U20).

Referee: Matt Carley
Assistant referees: Jack Makepeace and Jamie Leahy
No.4: Harry Walbaum
TMO: Tom Foley

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