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Saints make wholesale changes for crucial top-four clash

Northampton Saints will line up against Bath on Wednesday evening with a completely fresh starting XV, as Chris Boyd rotates his side for the vital Gallagher Premiership clash.

The Kiwi Director of Rugby is putting his faith in Northampton’s entire squad during this demanding block of fixtures, and the men in Black, Green and Gold will lock horns with the West Country outfit with their top-four hopes in the balance.

Saints have endured a disappointing run of form on home soil since the turn of the year, but have lost only once to Bath in their last 18 meetings at Franklin’s Gardens.

Loosehead prop Nick Auterac is poised for his full debut in Black, Green and Gold since making the switch to Northampton from Harlequins, and lines up in the front row with hooker James Fish and tighthead Owen Franks, while locks David Ribbans and Api Ratuniyarawa complete the tight five.

Club co-captain Teimana Harrison will lead out Saints wearing the No.8 jersey, and the hosts’ back row combines experience and youth with Courtney Lawes and JJ Tonks both starting in the flanker berths.

Dan Biggar returns to Northampton’s No.10 jersey and will look to lead the back line with scrum-half Henry Taylor by his side.

Harry Mallinder starts at fullback, with Ahsee Tuala – who scored a spectacular try against London Irish last time out – and Taqele Naiyaravoro on the wings.

English duo Piers Francis and Fraser Dingwall round off the starting XV and are selected at centre, meanwhile on the bench a first Premiership appearance beckons for Senior Academy fullback Tommy Freeman if he enters the action.

NORTHAMPTON SAINTS vs BATH RUGBY
Gallagher Premiership Rugby, Round 16
Wednesday 26 August 2020
Franklin’s Gardens
Kick-off: 7.45pm

15 Harry Mallinder
14 Ahsee Tuala
13 Fraser Dingwall
12 Piers Francis
11 Taqele Naiyaravoro
10 Dan Biggar
9 Henry Taylor

1 Nick Auterac
2 James Fish
3 Owen Franks
4 David Ribbans
5 Api Ratuniyarawa
6 Courtney Lawes
7 JJ Tonks
8 Teimana Harrison (c)

Replacements:
16 Sam Matavesi
17 Francois van Wyk
18 Ehren Painter
19 Lewis Bean
20 Tui Uru
21 Tom James
22 Rory Hutchinson
23 Tommy Freeman

Not available due to injury:
Alex Coles (ankle), Ollie Sleightholme (hamstring), Connor Tupai (wrist), Alex Waller (achilles), and Tom Wood (illness).

Referee: Christophe Ridley
Assistant Referees: Paul Dix and Jamie Leahy
TMO: Wayne Barnes