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Saints make five changes for historic St James’ Park clash

Travis PerkinsSponsored by Travis Perkins

Northampton Saints have made five changes to their starting line-up to face Newcastle Falcons, with the match set to be played in front of a record-breaking crowd at St James’ Park.

The match, which kicks off at 5.30pm on Saturday and is live on BT Sport, will be the second time these sides have met this season – with a last-minute score for Falcons the difference when they locked horns at Franklin’s Gardens.

St James’ Park becomes the Aviva Premiership’s 38th venue and Saints will be bidding to improve their recent away form in the league.

Nic Groom returns to the No.9 jersey to rekindle his half-back partnership with veteran Stephen Myler, while George North returns on the wing from international duty.

Piers Francis and Rob Horne continue in midfield, while Ahsee Tuala and Nafi Tuitavake are also retained to make up the back three.

Mikey Haywood returns from injury to line up at hooker, with Dylan Hartley out with illness after returning to the Club from international duty.

Campese Ma’afu and Kieran Brookes will pack down either side of him once again, with Christian Day returning to lead the side alongside Api Ratuniyawara in the second row.

Ben Nutley will don the No.8 jersey for Saints after impressing off the bench last time out against Bath Rugby – David Ribbans and Jamie Gibson making up the back row.

And there’s room for Harry Mallinder on the bench for Northampton, with the versatile back recovering from illness to take his place amongst Saints’ replacements.

Aviva Premiership Rugby, Round 18
St James’ Park
Saturday 24th March, 2018
Kick-off: 5.30pm

15 Ahsee Tuala
14 Nafi Tuitavake
13 Rob Horne
12 Piers Francis
11 George North
10 Stephen Myler
9 Nic Groom

1 Campese Ma’afu
2 Mikey Haywood
3 Kieran Brookes
4 Api Ratuniyawara
5 Christian Day (capt)
6 David Ribbans
7 Jamie Gibson
8 Ben Nutley

16 Reece Marshall
17 Francois van Wyk
18 Jamal Ford-Robinson
19 Michael Paterson
20 Mitch Eadie
21 Cobus Reinach
22 Harry Mallinder
23 Ben Foden

Injury list:
Alex Waller, James Craig, Tom Wood, Luther Burrell, Heinrich Brüssow and Dylan Hartley are all unavailable for selection.

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