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Lawes and Mitchell return ahead of Exeter Chiefs clash

Courtney Lawes and Alex Mitchell are set to make their first appearances of the season for Northampton Saints, as the pair of England internationals return to face Exeter Chiefs on Sunday. 

The England duo – fresh from collecting a bronze medal at the Rugby World Cup – return as Saints take to the cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens turf again this weekend; Northampton come into the match just four points behind table-topping Chiefs after back-to-back wins, including a 24-18 victory over Bath last time out, propelled them up to fourth in the Gallagher Premiership rankings. 

The men in Black, Green and Gold go in search of their third win in a row – something they have not achieved in the Premiership since February – with Phil Dowson making seven changes to the starting line-up that defeated Bath as Exeter come to town. 

Fraser Dingwall captains the side from Saints’ midfield, with Tommy Freeman shifting from the wing to start at outside centre on Sunday. 

England international Mitchell joins fly-half Fin Smith in Saints’ half-backs to make his first appearance in a Northampton shirt this term. Meanwhile James Ramm returns from injury to start on the wing alongside Tom Seabrook, with in-form George Hendy moving to fullback for this match. 

Paul Hill provides the only change to Saints’ front row, as the tighthead packs down alongside loosehead Alex Waller and hooker Curtis Langdon; and Alex Moon will make his eighth appearance of the season as he is partnered by Chunya Munga in Saints’ engine room. 

Lawes – who announced his retirement from international rugby two weeks ago – makes his return in Northampton’s back row to join Angus Scott-Young and No.8 Sam Graham there, with Club captain Lewis Ludlam taking a week of mandatory rest following the Rugby World Cup.

Dowson names an experienced bench for the clash with Chiefs, with the likes of Trevor Davison, Alex Coles, Tom Pearson and Rory Hutchinson set to make an impact. Meanwhile hooker Sam Matavesi also prepares to make his first appearance in Black, Green and Gold of the season, after featuring for Fiji over the last few months. 

Tickets for Northampton Saints vs Exeter Chiefs are still available to purchase HERE – with prices starting at £23 adults / £8 child*.

NORTHAMPTON SAINTS vs EXETER CHIEFS
Gallagher Premiership, Round 5
Sunday 12 November, 2023
cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens
Kick-off: 3pm

15 George Hendy
14 Tom Seabrook
13 Tommy Freeman 
12 Fraser Dingwall ©
11 James Ramm
10 Fin Smith
9 Alex Mitchell

1 Alex Waller
2 Curtis Langdon
3 Paul Hill
4 Alex Moon
5 Chunya Munga
6 Courtney Lawes
7 Angus Scott-Young
8 Sam Graham

Replacements:
16 Sam Matavesi
17 Ethan Waller
18 Trevor Davison
19 Alex Coles
20 Tom Pearson
21 Tom James
22 Rory Hutchinson
23 Tom Litchfield

Not available for selection:
Juarno Augustus, Toby Cousins, George Furbank, Emmanuel Iyogun, Tarek Haffar, Temo Mayanavanua, Burger Odendaal and Robbie Smith.

EXETER CHIEFS TEAM TO FACE SAINTS:
15 Tommy Wyatt, 14 Immanuel Feyi-Waboso, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Joe Hawkins, 11 Ben Hammersley, 10 Harvey Skinner, 9 Tom Cairns; 1 Nika Abuladze, 2 Dan Frost, 3 Josh Iosefa-Scott, 4 Dafydd Jenkins (c), 5 Lewis Pearson, 6 Ethan Roots, 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 8 Ross Vintcent.
Replacements: 16 Jack Yeandle, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Ehren Painter, 19 Rusi Tuima, 20 Aidon Davis, 21 Niall Armstrong, 22 Will Haydon-Wood, 23 Tom Hendrickson.

Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Assistant referees: Jack Makepeace and Jamie Leahy
No.4: Richard Gordon
TMO: Rowan Kitt

Next Home Match

Northampton Saints
07
Days
14
Hours
39
Mins
dhl-stormers
Saturday 9 March - 2:30pm

* All ticket prices are subject to a £1.50 booking fee.

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