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Nine Saints changes for opening Franklin’s Gardens clash

Northampton Saints have made nine changes to their side for this weekend’s Premiership Rugby Cup clash against Wasps.

The competition’s defending champions return to home soil for the first time this season to lock horns with their midlands rivals, after a defeat away at Sale Sharks last time out.

Director of rugby Chris Boyd won two out of three matches against Wasps during his first season at the helm, and the Kiwi has rung the changes with five new faces in his back-line taking to the Franklin’s Gardens turf (kick-off: 3pm, live on BT Sport).

After an excellent showing against Sale, Ollie Sleightholme is the only survivor from last week in the back three, with Tom Collins and Taqele Naiyaravoro set to add some experience and firepower.

Centre Rory Hutchinson returns for the men in Black, Green and Gold following his maiden Scotland call-up during the summer – he partners Andy Symons in midfield, who plays for the first time since picking up a knee injury during the first half of last season.

James Grayson retains his place at fly-half with Henry Taylor his half-back partner after impressing off the bench against the Sharks, meanwhile Boyd also shuffles his pack with four changes to Saints’ forwards.

Alex Waller captains the side at loosehead prop in a new-look front three, as James Fish and Ehren Painter are also given their chance to start.

Lock David Ribbans returns to action in the engine room alongside Lewis Bean, with England under-20 international Alex Coles switching into the back row alongside Tom Wood and Mitch Eadie.

Amongst the replacements, flanker JJ Tonks and scrum-half James Mitchell are set to make their full Club debuts if they come off the bench, with the likes of Teimana Harrison, Fraser Dingwall, and Ryan Olowofela also hoping to make an impact during the second half.

Tickets are still available for Northampton Saints vs Wasps at Franklin’s Gardens on Saturday (kick-off: 3pm), starting from £20 for adults and £8 for children. CLICK HERE to secure your seat now.

NORTHAMPTON SAINTS vs WASPS
Premiership Rugby Cup, Round 2
Saturday 28 September, 2019
Franklin’s Gardens
Kick-off: 3pm

15 Tom Collins
14 Ollie Sleightholme
13 Rory Hutchinson
12 Andrew Symons
11 Taqele Naiyaravoro
10 James Grayson
9 Henry Taylor

1 Alex Waller (c)
2 James Fish
3 Ehren Painter
4 David Ribbans
5 Lewis Bean
6 Alex Coles
7 Tom Wood
8 Mitch Eadie

Replacements:
16 Michael van Vuuren
17 Ben Franks
18 Paul Hill
19 JJ Tonks
20 Teimana Harrison
21 James Mitchell
22 Fraser Dingwall
23 Ryan Olowofela

Referee: Michael Hudson
Assistant Referees: Alex Thomas and Wayne Falla
TMO: David Grashoff

Not available for selection:
Harry Mallinder (knee), Dylan Hartley (knee), Alex Mitchell (knee), Reece Marshall (hamstring), Mikey Haywood (knee), Jamie Gibson (shoulder), Heinz Brüssow (ankle), and Paddy Ryan (knee)

International duty:
Dan Biggar (Wal), Piers Francis (Eng), Courtney Lawes (Eng), Lewis Ludlam (Eng), Api Ratuniyarawa (Fiji), Cobus Reinach (SA), and Ahsee Tuala (Sam).

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