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Sleightholme and Matavesi return as Saints visit Exeter Chiefs

Ollie Sleightholme and Sam Matavesi both return to Northampton Saints’ line-up this weekend, with Director of Rugby Chris Boyd today naming his side to face Exeter Chiefs.

The men in Black, Green and Gold head to Devon off the back of an opening 34-20 victory over Gloucester to take on last season’s Gallagher Premiership finalists.

Saints will be prepared for a tough test in the West Country; since Northampton won at Sandy Park back in February, the Chiefs have won their last seven home games in the league – but with the last three league matchups between the sides ending with a margin of three points or fewer, supporters can look forward to another nail-biting encounter on Saturday (kick-off: 3pm).

Fit-again Sleightholme is selected on the wing for the visitors, with the 21-year-old speedster celebrating a call-up into England’s 45-man training squad earlier this week. He is joined in the back three by Tom Collins and fullback George Furbank, another of four Saints picked out by the Red Rose.

With Rory Hutchinson out injured, Matt Proctor switches to outside centre and Fraser Dingwall moves inside into the No.12 jersey, but Boyd keeps last weekend’s half-back pairing of James Grayson and Alex Mitchell together for the trip to Exeter.

Fiji international hooker Matavesi makes his return to Northampton’s front row, packing down alongside props Alex Waller and Ehren Painter, with locks David Ribbans and Api Ratuniyarawa just behind them in the engine room.

Northampton opt to stick with the winning formula in the back row, as flankers Tom Wood and Lewis Ludlam, and No.8 Teimana Harrison, are selected to start together again this week.

The headline inclusion on Saints’ bench sees Fiji scrum-half Frank Lomani poised to make his Northampton debut, with Tommy Freeman also returning from injury and Juarno Augustus looking to build on an impressive first competitive outing in Black, Green and Gold last weekend.

EXETER CHIEFS vs NORTHAMPTON SAINTS
Gallagher Premiership Rugby, Round 2
Saturday 25 September 2021
Sandy Park
Kick-off: 3pm

15 George Furbank
14 Ollie Sleightholme
13 Matt Proctor
12 Fraser Dingwall
11 Tom Collins
10 James Grayson
9 Alex Mitchell

1 Alex Waller
2 Sam Matavesi
3 Ehren Painter
4 David Ribbans
5 Api Ratuniyarawa
6 Tom Wood
7 Lewis Ludlam (c)
8 Teimana Harrison

Replacements:
16 James Fish
17 Nick Auterac
18 Paul Hill
19 Alex Moon
20 Juarno Augustus
21 Frank Lomani
22 Tom Litchfield
23 Tommy Freeman

Not considered for selection:
Matthew Arden, Dan Biggar, Callum Burns, Alex Coles, Piers Francis, Rory Hutchinson, Courtney Lawes, Tom Lockett, Reece Marshall, Taqele Naiyaravoro, Ollie Newman, and JJ Tonks.

Referee: Christophe Ridley
Assistant referees: George Selwood and Wayne Falla
No.4: Phil Watters
TMO: Rowan Kitt

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