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Saints make three changes for blockbuster New Year’s Day clash

Director of Rugby Phil Dowson has made three changes to his Northampton Saints side to take on Harlequins this weekend – with Fraser Dingwall, Paul Hill and Alex Moon all returning to the starting XV.

The men in Black, Green and Gold will look to kick 2023 off in style against the London side in front of a packed-out cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens – with less than 150 tickets remaining for Sunday’s clash (kick-off: 3pm).

Saints boast a fine record around the turn of the year, having won their first clash in January in nine of the last 11 seasons, and will be hoping to preserve their home form in the Gallagher Premiership – which has seen Northampton lose just one league match at the Gardens since February.

Dingwall is the only change to the hosts’ back-line from the side which ran Munster close a fortnight ago in the Heineken Champions Cup. The 23-year-old slots into the line-up at inside centre, with Matt Proctor continuing his run of starts outside him in the midfield.

That means scrum-half Alex Mitchell and No.10 Fin Smith remain in the half-back berths for the third consecutive league match, while Dowson sticks with fullback George Furbank and the combination of wings Tommy Freeman and James Ramm in the back-three for Saints.

Amongst two changes to Northampton’s pack, tighthead prop Hill makes his return from injury to start in the front row alongside Alex Waller and Fiji hooker Sam Matavesi.

Moon comes into the engine room to partner lock David Ribbans, with Lukhan Salakaia-Loto switching to blindside flanker as part of a back-row reshuffle which also sees skipper Lewis Ludlam pull on the No.8 jersey.

Angus Scott-Young, winner of the cinch Player of the Month award for November, completes Northampton’s line-up at openside flanker – with the likes of Courtnall Skosan, Rory Hutchinson, Sam Graham and Emmanuel Iyogun all hoping to make an impact off the bench for Saints and Karl Wilkins also set for his first competitive appearance of the season if he enters the action.

NORTHAMPTON SAINTS vs HARLEQUINS
Gallagher Premiership Rugby, Round 14
Sunday 1 January 2023
cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens
Kick-off: 3pm

15 George Furbank
14 Tommy Freeman
13 Matt Proctor
12 Fraser Dingwall
11 James Ramm
10 Fin Smith
9 Alex Mitchell

1 Alex Waller
2 Sam Matavesi
3 Paul Hill
4 David Ribbans
5 Alex Moon
6 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto
7 Angus Scott-Young
8 Lewis Ludlam (c)

Replacements:
16 Mikey Haywood
17 Emmanuel Iyogun
18 Alfie Petch
19 Karl Wilkins
20 Sam Graham
21 Callum Braley
22 Rory Hutchinson
23 Courtnall Skosan

Not considered for selection:
Juarno Augustus, Alex Coles, James Fish, James Grayson, and Courtney Lawes.

HARLEQUINS TEAM TO FACE SAINTS:
15 Nick David, 14 Cadan Murley, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Tommy Allan, 9 Lewis Gjaltema; 1 Fin Baxter, 2 Jack Walker, 3 Simon Kerrod, 4 Dino Lamb, 5 George Hammond, 6 Archie White, 7 Tom Lawday, 8 Alex Dombrandt (c)
Replacements: 16 George Head, 17 Joe Marler, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 Charlie Matthews, 20 Luke Wallace, 21 Danny Care, 22 Will Edwards, 23 Oscar Beard

Referee: Luke Pearce
Assistant referees: Harry Walbaum and John Meredith
No.4: Simon Park
TMO: Dean Richards

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