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Three changes for Saints ahead of Leinster showdown

Northampton Saints director of rugby Chris Boyd has made three changes to his starting line-up ahead of Saturday’s blockbuster Heineken Champions Cup showdown against Leinster Rugby.

The men in Black, Green and Gold are looking for their third straight win in the competition which would send them top of Pool One – although the Irish powerhouses are also unbeaten going into the clash (kick-off 1pm).

Saints put local rivals Leicester Tigers to the sword last time out and Boyd has not strayed far from that formula this week, with fit-again number ten Dan Biggar, fullback Ahsee Tuala and flanker Jamie Gibson the only three changes to that side.

Biggar slots back in at fly-half alongside World Cup winner Cobus Reinach, with Matt Proctor – who scored twice on his Premiership debut last weekend – and Rory Hutchinson deployed again outside them in Northampton’s midfield.

Wingers Taqele Naiyaravoro and Tom Collins continue in the back three but there is a change at fullback as Tuala replaces the unavailable George Furbank.

Gibson is the only change to the pack and slots into the back row alongside England internationals Tom Wood and Teimana Harrison.

That means skipper Alex Waller, Mikey Haywood and Ehren Painter will make up the front row once again with Alex Moon and Api Ratuniyarawa behind them in the engine room.

There’s more good news amongst the replacements with centre Piers Francis recovering from a shoulder injury to take a spot on the bench, while the likes of James Grayson and Lewis Ludlam will also be hoping to make an impact if they are introduced to the action.

Heineken Champions Cup, Round Three
Saturday 7 December 2019
Franklin’s Gardens
Kick-off: 1pm

15 Ahsee Tuala
14 Tom Collins
13 Matt Proctor
12 Rory Hutchinson
11 Taqele Naiyaravoro
10 Dan Biggar
9 Cobus Reinach

1 Alex Waller (co-capt)
2 Mike Haywood
3 Ehren Painter
4 Alex Moon
5 Api Ratuniyarawa
6 Tom Wood
7 Jamie Gibson
8 Teimana Harrison (co-capt)

16 Michael van Vuuren
17 Francois van Wyk
18 Paul Hill
19 Alex Coles
20 Lewis Ludlam
21 Connor Tupai
22 James Grayson
23 Piers Francis

Referee: Alexandre Ruiz (FFR)
Assistant referees: Ludovic Cayre & Cédric Marchat (both FFR)
TMO: Patrick Dellac (FFR)

Not available for selection:
Harry Mallinder (knee), Alex Mitchell (knee), Reece Marshall (hamstring), Reuben Bird-Tulloch (hand), Henry Taylor (thumb), Ben Franks (elbow), David Ribbans (back), James Fish (head), George Furbank (head), Owen Franks (hand) and Courtney Lawes (hamstring).

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