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Lawes returns from injury as Saints host Saracens

Courtney Lawes makes his return from injury for Northampton Saints on Saturday afternoon, as the men in Black, Green and Gold lock horns with Saracens at a sold out cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens.

Director of Rugby Phil Dowson makes just two changes for the must-win Gallagher Premiership clash, with England international Lawes returning in the back row and Fiji international Sam Matavesi – who signed a new contract with the Club this week – starting at hooker.

Saints have won their last seven league fixtures on home soil and will need to make it eight on the bounce if they are to keep their top-four hopes alive, but top-of-the-table Saracens edged them out at StoneX Stadium in November and have not lost in their last six visits to the Gardens in the Premiership.

Lawes is the headline inclusion in the back row for Saints; the 34-year-old makes only his second league appearance of the season and first since September, starting at blindside flanker.

Northampton skipper Lewis Ludlam will lead the hosts from openside, with No.8 Juarno Augustus completing the back row having scored in his last two appearances.

David Ribbans and Alex Moon continue in the engine room, while Matavesi is the only change in the front row at hooker, as props Alex Waller and Trevor Davison start either side of him.

The back-line is unchanged for Saints as Fin Smith and Alex Mitchell continue in the half-back berths, and Rory Hutchinson and Fraser Dingwall combine in the midfield.

Tommy Freeman has three tries in his last four Premiership appearances and will be looking to add to that tally and put in a late bid to become the league’s top scorer this season. Meanwhile James Ramm is selected on the other wing, and fullback George Furbank rounds off the back three.

Saints opt for a 6-2 split this week on the bench, with the likes of Paul Hill, Alex Coles, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, and Tom Collins all named amongst a strong list of replacements who will be looking to make an impact late in the game.

Gallagher Premiership Rugby, Round 22
Saturday 15 April 2023
cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens
Kick-off: 3pm

15 George Furbank
14 James Ramm
13 Fraser Dingwall
12 Rory Hutchinson
11 Tommy Freeman
10 Fin Smith
9 Alex Mitchell

1 Alex Waller
2 Sam Matavesi
3 Trevor Davison
4 David Ribbans
5 Alex Moon
6 Courtney Lawes
7 Lewis Ludlam (c)
8 Juarno Augustus

16 Tom Cruse
17 Ethan Waller
18 Paul Hill
19 Alex Coles
20 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto
21 Sam Graham
22 Tom James
23 Tom Collins

Not considered for selection:
Emmanuel Iyogun, Matt Proctor, Ollie Sleightholme and Robbie Smith.

15 Alex Goode (cc), 14 Rotimi Segun, 13 Duncan Taylor, 12 Olly Hartley, 11 Alex Lewington, 10 Manu Vunipola, 9 Ruben de Haas; 1 Eroni Mawi, 2 Tom Woolstencroft, 3 Christian Judge, 4 Callum Hunter-Hill, 5 Hugh Tizard, 6 Nick Isiekwe, 7 Toby Knight, 8 Jackson Wray (cc)
Replacements: 16 Theo Dan, 17 Robin Hislop, 18 Marco Riccioni, 19 Nathan Michelow, 20 Ben Earl, 21 Ivan van Zyl, 22 Josh Hallett, 23 Ben Harris

Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant referees: Tom Foley and Wayne Falla
No.4: Jonathan Healy
TMO: David Rose

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