Director of rugby Chris Boyd has named his Northampton Saints side to take on league leaders Exeter Chiefs at Franklin’s Gardens tomorrow evening.
The Kiwi coach has made 11 changes to his starting XV from the side that went down to Harlequins on Sunday as the men in Black, Green and Gold look to arrest a frustrating run of recent home form and keep their play-off ambitions alive.
The majority of Boyd’s changes come in the forwards, with Northampton opting for a completely fresh pack for the do-or-die clash.
Club co-captain Teimana Harrison will lead out Saints at the Gardens, with JJ Tonks and Courtney Lawes alongside him in the back row. The tight five meanwhile sees Francois van Wyk, James Fish and Owen Franks come into the front row, with David Ribbans and Api Ratuniyarawa packing down together in the engine room for the third time since rugby’s return.
Centres Rory Hutchinson and Matt Proctor keep their places in Northampton’s midfield; the duo are two of just four players retained by Boyd from last weekend’s defeat.
Fullback George Furbank and wing Tom Collins also start for the second match running, with Ahsee Tuala coming onto the other wing for the hosts.
Dan Biggar pulls on the No.10 jersey for Saints – the Wales fly-half is just two points short of 300 for the Club – with scrum-half Henry Taylor completing the Northampton line-up.
A strong list of Saints replacements boast plenty of firepower with the likes of Taqele Naiyaravoro, Piers Francis, Alex Mitchell and Nick Isiekwe all hoping to make their impact on the game off the bench.
“No-one is happy to lose any game and we back ourselves to win against anyone if we get our performance right on the day,” said Boyd.
“But this competition is so even that if you are two or three percent off, you are going to come off on the wrong side of the ledger, and we haven’t got it quite right the last couple of weeks.
“We’re not going to talk about the recent home record, and just focus on beating Exeter and keeping our opportunity to make the top four alive.
“Exeter are really good at what they do and they’re a tough nut to crack, but we’ve got to face what they bring and make a plan to break them down, and then convert our opportunities into points – we’ve got to be good enough to take them.”
NORTHAMPTON SAINTS vs EXETER CHIEFS
Gallagher Premiership Rugby, Round 18
Friday 4 September 2020
15 George Furbank
14 Ahsee Tuala
13 Matt Proctor
12 Rory Hutchinson
11 Tom Collins
10 Dan Biggar
9 Henry Taylor
1 Francois van Wyk
2 James Fish
3 Owen Franks
4 David Ribbans
5 Api Ratuniyarawa
6 Courtney Lawes
7 JJ Tonks
8 Teimana Harrison (c)
16 Sam Matavesi
17 Nick Auterac
18 Paul Hill
19 Nick Isiekwe
20 Shaun Adendorff
21 Alex Mitchell
22 Piers Francis
23 Taqele Naiyaravoro
Not available due to injury:
Alex Coles (ankle), Harry Mallinder (knee), Ollie Sleightholme (hamstring), Connor Tupai (wrist), Alex Waller (achilles), and Tom Wood (illness).
Referee: Luke Pearce
Assistant Referees: Greg MacDonald and Andrew Jackson
TMO: Keith Lewis
No4: Jamie Leahy