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Saints make four changes for crucial Wasps clash

Director of Rugby Chris Boyd has made four changes to his starting XV as Northampton Saints lock horns with Wasps in the Gallagher Premiership this weekend.

The men in Black, Green and Gold come into the clash following back-to-back wins over Worcester Warriors and Gloucester; a third win on the bounce could see Saints jump into the top four depending on results across Round Eight.

Northampton and Wasps have shared the last four fixtures between the clubs with two wins apiece, but Boyd’s side will be looking to recreate their Coventry heroics from last January on Saturday (kick-off: 1pm), with Saints notching up their first ever Premiership win at the Ricoh Arena on their last visit.

After catching the eye off the bench last time out, 19-year-old fullback Tommy Freeman is handed his third-ever league start, with George Furbank ruled out.

Ollie Sleightholme makes a welcome return to Saints’ back three following a 12-month injury layoff, with Taqele Naiyaravoro continuing on the other wing after getting on the scoresheet against Gloucester.

Piers Francis and Rory Hutchinson meanwhile continue in the midfield for the visitors, with James Grayson recalled to the No.10 jersey to partner scrum-half Alex Mitchell.

Lock Alex Moon comes into the engine room in the only change to Saints’ pack from their win over the Cherry & Whites; the towering 23-year-old partners David Ribbans with co-captain Alex Waller, Sam Matavesi and Paul Hill making up the front row.

No.8 Shaun Adendorff notched a try-double in a man-of-the-match performance last weekend, and lines up in the back row alongside Nick Isiekwe and co-captain Lewis Ludlam.

Amongst the replacements Northampton also welcome back plenty of experience with Owen Franks and Ahsee Tuala returning after brief layoffs, and Tom Wood following a three-week suspension.

WASPS v NORTHAMPTON SAINTS
Gallagher Premiership Rugby, Round Eight
Saturday 6 February 2021
Ricoh Arena
Kick-off: 1pm

15 Tommy Freeman
14 Ollie Sleightholme
13 Rory Hutchinson
12 Piers Francis
11 Taqele Naiyaravoro
10 James Grayson
9 Alex Mitchell

1 Alex Waller (co-capt)
2 Sam Matavesi
3 Paul Hill
4 David Ribbans
5 Alex Moon
6 Nick Isiekwe
7 Lewis Ludlam (co-capt)
8 Shaun Adendorff

Replacements:
16 Mike Haywood
17 Francois van Wyk
18 Owen Franks
19 Alex Coles
20 Tom Wood
21 Tom James
22 Fraser Dingwall
23 Ahsee Tuala

Not available due to injury:
George Furbank (concussion), Teimana Harrison (hand), Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi (achilles), Emmanuel Iyogun (ankle), Matt Proctor (knee), Api Ratuniyarawa (calf) and Kayde Sylvester (achilles).

Referee: Adam Leal
Assistant Referees: George Selwood and Robert Warburton
No.4: Steve Lee
TMO: Stuart Terheege

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