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Saints make eight changes to side for Benetton clash

Northampton Saints director of rugby Chris Boyd has rung the changes ahead of this weekend’s Heineken Champions Cup clash against Benetton Rugby.

The men in Black, Green and Gold travel to Italy looking to back up an impressive 25-14 triumph over Top14 leaders Lyon OU in Round One, having beaten the Treviso outfit on each of their last four meetings.

Northampton sit second in Pool One and will be desperate to consolidate their position in the group ahead of a double header against PRO14 champions Leinster in the next two rounds of the competition.

Teimana Harrison will captain Saints in Italy with Jamie Gibson starting at flanker alongside Lewis Ludlam in the only change to the back row that started against Lyon.

But there is plenty of change in the tight five with Mikey Haywood the only survivor from last weekend; locks Alex Moon and Api Ratuniyarawa come into the engine room while Francois van Wyk and Owen Franks pack down in the front row.

Meanwhile World Cup winner Cobus Reinach and Wales international Dan Biggar continue in the half-back axis after impressive returns to action – with Biggar kicking 20 points from the tee last time out.

Matt Proctor comes into Saints’ midfield to join Rory Hutchinson, with Piers Francis ruled out through injury, while there are two more changes in the back three as Ollie Sleightholme and fullback Ahsee Tuala come into the starting line-up alongside Tom Collins.

Both Sleightholme and Moon are set for their Champions Cup debuts at Benetton, while Saints’ replacements boast a blend of youth an experience with the likes of Alex Waller, Fraser Dingwall, Paul Hill and George Furbank all hoping to make an impact off the bench.

BENETTON RUGBY vs NORTHAMPTON SAINTS
Heineken Champions Cup Pool 1, Round Two
Saturday 23 November 2019
Stadio Comunale di Monigo
Kick-off: 2pm local (1pm GMT)

15 Ahsee Tuala
14 Ollie Sleightholme
13 Matt Proctor
12 Rory Hutchinson
11 Tom Collins
10 Dan Biggar
9 Cobus Reinach

1 Francois van Wyk
2 Mikey Haywood
3 Owen Franks
4 Alex Moon
5 Api Ratuniyarawa
6 Jamie Gibson
7 Lewis Ludlam
8 Teimana Harrison (c)

Replacements:
16 Michael Van Vuuren
17 Alex Waller
18 Paul Hill
19 Lewis Bean
20 Mitch Eadie
21 James Mitchell
22 Fraser Dingwall
23 George Furbank

Referee: Mike Adamson (SCO)
Assistant referees: David Sutherland (SCO) & Finlay Brown (SCO)
TMO: Neil Paterson (SCO)

Not available for selection:
Harry Mallinder (knee), Alex Mitchell (knee), Reece Marshall (hamstring), Reuben Bird-Tulloch (hand), Henry Taylor (thumb), Ben Franks (elbow), David Ribbans (back), James Fish (head), Piers Francis (shoulder), Courtney Lawes (hamstring), and Andy Symons (dead leg).

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