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Six changes for Saints ahead of Heineken Champions Cup trip to Ulster

Fullback Ahsee Tuala will make his first start of the season for Northampton Saints, as Director of Rugby Chris Boyd makes six changes to his starting line-up to take on Ulster in the second round of the Heineken Champions Cup. 

The men in Black, Green and Gold head to the Kingspan Stadium (kick-off: 8pm) looking to topple the Irish side, who boast a ferocious recent record at the ground in the competition, winning 13 of their last 15 home games.

This will be the sixth clash between Ulster and Northampton in the Heineken Champions Cup; Ulster have won two with Saints winning three – but it’s the first meeting since the pool stage in 2012/13, when each club picked up an away victory.

Samoan international Tuala comes into Saints’ backline at fullback, with Ollie Sleightholme and Northampton’s top try-scorer Courtnall Skosan on the wings. 

Fraser Dingwall and Matt Proctor continue their partnership in the centres for Northampton, while George Furbank shifts into the No.10 shirt to partner Alex Mitchell in the half-back berths. 

Ehren Painter stays on at tighthead prop but is joined by Alex Waller and Mike Haywood in a fresh front row combination.

Northampton’s engine room is once again manned by locks David Ribbans and Api Ratuniyarawa, with Courtney Lawes and Tom Wood returning to the starting XV to join skipper Lewis Ludlam in the back row. 

Meanwhile with the likes of Emmanuel Iyogun, Juarno Augustus, James Grayson and Rory Hutchinson waiting in the wings, Saints’ bench will be looking to make an impact in Belfast. 

ULSTER RUGBY vs NORTHAMPTON SAINTS
Heineken Champions Cup, Pool A, Round 2
Friday 17 December 2021
Kingspan Stadium
Kick-off: 8pm

15 Ahsee Tuala
14 Ollie Sleightholme
13 Matt Proctor
12 Fraser Dingwall
11 Courtnall Skosan
10 George Furbank
9 Alex Mitchell

1 Alex Waller
2 Mike Haywood
3 Ehren Painter
4 David Ribbans
5 Api Ratuniyarawa
6 Courtney Lawes
7 Lewis Ludlam (c)
8 Tom Wood

Replacements:
16 James Fish
17 Emmanuel Iyogun
18 Conor Carey
19 Alex Coles
20 Juarno Augustus
21 Tom James
22 James Grayson
23 Rory Hutchinson

Not considered for selection:
Dan Biggar, Callum Burns, Tommy Freeman, Teimana Harrison, Oisín Heffernan, Paul Hill, Dani Long-Martinez, Alex Moon, Taqele Naiyaravoro, and Kayde Sylvester.

Referee: Andrea Piardi (ITA)
Assistant referees: Gianluca Gnecchi and Filippo Russo (ITA)
No.4: Andrew Mitchell (IRE)
TMO: Stefano Penne (ITA)

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