Director of Rugby Chris Boyd has named his Northampton Saints side to take on Exeter Chiefs on Sunday, making five changes to his starting line-up this weekend.
The men in Black, Green and Gold welcome the West Country outfit to cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens for a crucial Gallagher Premiership clash (kick-off: 1pm) – with the two sides separated by just four points in the tightly-contested race for the top four.
Saints edged an enthralling clash 26-24 at Sandy Park when they faced Exeter earlier this term, and are bidding to record their first season’s double over the Chiefs since 2013/14 to propel themselves back towards the play-off places.
Fraser Dingwall leads out Saints and will line-up at inside centre, with Matt Proctor continuing in the No.13 jersey alongside him.
There is a reshuffle in the back three however as Tom Collins comes in to start on the wing, and Courtnall Skosan – the Premiership’s joint-leading try-scorer so far this season – keeps his place in the side as George Furbank moves from fly-half to fullback.
That makes room for James Grayson to start a league match for the first time since November, while Alex Mitchell continues his run in the No.9 jersey at scrum-half.
There are four changes in Northampton’s pack for the weekend with Mike Haywood coming into the front row at hooker to join props Emmanuel Iyogun and Ehren Painter, as Sam Matavesi starts at flanker for the first time in Black, Green and Gold.
Alex Coles and No.8 Karl Wilkins round off the back row, while Api Ratuniyarawa is restored to the starting line-up for Sunday’s clash and joins David Ribbans in the engine room.
Tom James returns from injury and is named amongst the replacements for the hosts, with the likes of Alex Waller, Paul Hill and Piers Francis also providing plenty of experience for Saints on the bench.
NORTHAMPTON SAINTS vs EXETER CHIEFS
Gallagher Premiership Rugby, Round 18
Sunday 27 February 2022
cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens
15 George Furbank
14 Courtnall Skosan
13 Matt Proctor
12 Fraser Dingwall (capt)
11 Tom Collins
10 James Grayson
9 Alex Mitchell
1 Emmanuel Iyogun
2 Mike Haywood
3 Ehren Painter
4 David Ribbans
5 Api Ratuniyarawa
6 Alex Coles
7 Sam Matavesi
8 Karl Wilkins
16 James Fish
17 Alex Waller
18 Paul Hill
19 Alex Moon
20 Brandon Nansen
21 JJ Tonks
22 Tom James
23 Piers Francis
Not considered for selection:
Matthew Arden, Emeka Atuanya, Juarno Augustus, Tommy Freeman, Jake Garside, Teimana Harrison, Oisín Heffernan, Rory Hutchinson, Tom Lockett, Lewis Ludlam, Taqele Naiyaravoro, Ollie Sleightholme, Kayde Sylvester, and Tom Wood.
Dan Biggar (Wal), Ethan Grayson (Eng U20), Courtney Lawes (Eng)
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Assistant referees: Sara Cox and Michael Hudson
No.4: Ryan Collier
TMO: Andrew Jackson