Ehren Painter and Luther Burrell are both recalled into Northampton Saints’ starting line-up for this weekend’s trip to Ashton Gate to face Bristol Bears.
After visiting Bath Rugby last Saturday, the men in Black, Green and Gold are back in the West Country for a 3pm kick-off in round five of Gallagher Premiership Rugby.
The Bears have not lost on home soil since March, but Northampton have won their last five matches against Bristol in all competitions dating back to November 2008 and will look to keep that record intact this weekend.
Director of rugby Chris Boyd makes two changes to his starting XV after the narrowest of defeats in Bath last weekend, bringing centre Luther Burrell back into the midfield to join Piers Francis and Ehren Painter into the front row alongside co-captains Alex Waller and Dylan Hartley.
Saints’ back three of Tom Collins, Taqele Naiyaravoro, and Ahsee Tuala continue together, while Cobus Reinach and Dan Biggar make their fifth straight starts in the half-back positions.
Saints’ engine room will not be short of height with towering locks David Ribbans and Courtney Lawes continuing, while Teimana Harrison keeps hold of the No.8 jersey with Jamie Gibson and Lewis Ludlam either side of him after both flankers impressed in torrential conditions at Bath.
Amongst the replacements, Andrew Kellaway is named again after making his Saints debut last weekend, with the likes of Harry Mallinder, Mitch Eadie, Alex Mitchell and Api Ratuniyarawa all also looking to make an impact off the bench.
"[Bristol] are different from most Premiership teams," Boyd commented. "They're very optimistic, they're happy to play in deep territory, they're happy to play behind the gain line and that means you've got to be really vigilant.
"They're also very aggressive defensively so they pose not a normal Premiership challenge but something different. And I think what they're doing, they're doing pretty well.
"We've talked about the fact that we need to just keep concentrating on our own performance, find a bit of steel from somewhere, and get what we want to do right."
Tickets are still available for Northampton’s next home match, which sees Saints take on fierce rivals Leicester Tigers at Twickenham in ‘The Derby’. The match is being played in aid of Rob Horne; for more information and to book tickets please CLICK HERE.
BRISTOL BEARS vs NORTHAMPTON SAINTS
Gallagher Premiership Rugby, Round Five
Saturday 29 September
15 Ahsee Tuala
14 Tom Collins
13 Luther Burrell
12 Piers Francis
11 Taqele Naiyaravoro
10 Dan Biggar
9 Cobus Reinach
1 Alex Waller (co-captain)
2 Dylan Hartley (co-captain)
3 Ehren Painter
4 David Ribbans
5 Courtney Lawes
6 Jamie Gibson
7 Lewis Ludlam
8 Teimana Harrison
16 Mike Haywood
17 Francois Van Wyk
18 Ben Franks
19 Api Ratuniyarawa
20 Mitch Eadie
21 Alex Mitchell
22 Andrew Kellaway
23 Harry Mallinder
Not available for selection:
Dom Barrow (hamstring), Alex Coles (knee), James Craig (concussion), Charlie Davies (foot), James Fish (ankle), Paul Hill (shoulder), Rory Hutchinson (knee), Toby Trinder (foot), Ken Pisi (shoulder), Heinrich Brüssow (concussion), James Haskell (ankle), Nafi Tuitavake (neck), and Andy Symons (knee).