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Ludlam to lead Saints at Saracens

Lewis Ludlam will captain Northampton Saints for the first time on Saturday, with director of rugby Chris Boyd making six changes to the side to lock horns with Saracens.

The men in Black, Green and Gold travel to Allianz Park with six back-to-back home victories under their belt – including last weekend’s nail-biting 27-26 triumph over Bath – but beating the league leaders on away soil represents a fresh challenge.

Saints have won four of their last five Gallagher Premiership matches and scored over seven tries per game on average in 2019, although are without a win at Saracens since 2015.

Boyd makes four changes to his pack but last week’s match-winner David Ribbans keeps his place in the second row alongside Fijian lock Api Ratuniyarawa.

Jamie Gibson returns at flanker alongside skipper Ludlam, who continues his run in the side, while there’s a first run out in the No.8 jersey this season for Heinrich Brüssow.

Paul Hill – who signed a new contract with the Club on Wednesday – is the only constant in the front row from last weekend’s victory over Bath, with hooker James Fish and prop Francois van Wyk recalled to the scrum.

After a try and a man-of-the-match performance last time out, Alex Mitchell holds on to the No.9 jersey for the trip to Allianz Park and he will look to pull the strings alongside fly-half James Grayson.

Rory Hutchinson switches to inside centre this week to make room for the returning Fraser Dingwall, who plays for the first time since leading England under-20s on international duty.

And after impressing off the bench against Bath, Ken Pisi makes his first league start in Black, Green and Gold since September, joining Ahsee Tuala and George Furbank in the back three.

Saints will look to exploit space in the latter stages with the lightning-fast Cobus Reinach and Tom Collins set to be unleashed from the bench, while Boyd can also call on the experience of Tom Wood, Alex Waller, Luther Burrell and Ben Franks from amongst the replacements.

SARACENS vs NORTHAMPTON SAINTS
Gallagher Premiership Rugby, Round 15
Saturday 2 March 2019
Allianz Park
Kick-off: 3pm

15 George Furbank
14 Ken Pisi
13 Fraser Dingwall
12 Rory Hutchinson
11 Ahsee Tuala
10 James Grayson
9 Alex Mitchell

1 Francois Van Wyk
2 James Fish
3 Paul Hill
4 David Ribbans
5 Api Ratuniyarawa
6 Jamie Gibson
7 Lewis Ludlam (c)
8 Heinrich Brüssow

Replacements:
16 Reece Marshall
17 Alex Waller
18 Ben Franks
19 Alex Moon
20 Tom Wood
21 Cobus Reinach
22 Luther Burrell
23 Tom Collins

Not available for selection:
Andy Symons (knee), Harry Mallinder (knee), Mikey Haywood (knee), Dylan Hartley (knee), Teimana Harrison (hamstring), Ehren Painter (calf), Courtney Lawes (calf), and Piers Francis (concussion).

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