Northampton Saints’ Director of Rugby Chris Boyd has made just three changes to his starting XV to face Gloucester Rugby at Franklin’s Gardens on Saturday.
The men in Black, Green and Gold enter this weekend’s Round 18 Gallagher Premiership clash off the back of three consecutive wins in the league, and will be hoping to keep up the pressure on the top four by recording a season’s double over the Cherry & Whites.
Saints boast a good recent record against Gloucester, having won the last two Premiership Rugby encounters between the sides (ignoring Gloucester’s declared win in October 2020), with the West Country outfit winning just once at the Gardens in any competition since 2013.
Dan Biggar – named in the British & Irish Lions squad this week – shakes off a knock sustained in the East Midlands Derby victory over Leicester Tigers to start at fly-half, but Tom James comes in at scrum-half to replace the injured Alex Mitchell.
The rest of Saints’ back-line is unchanged as Piers Francis and Rory Hutchinson take up their places in the Northampton midfield, while Tommy Freeman, Matt Proctor and fullback George Furbank continue in the back three.
Api Ratuniyarawa returns from a shoulder injury to start at lock for the first time since March, joining Dave Ribbans in the hosts’ engine room, and No.8 Teimana Harrison returns to the line-up in an otherwise unchanged back row with flankers Tom Wood and Lewis Ludlam.
There’s plenty of firepower to come off the bench for Saints with Taqele Naiyaravoro fit again and taking his place amongst the replacements alongside the likes of Fraser Dingwall, Shaun Adendorff and Alex Moon.
NORTHAMPTON SAINTS vs GLOUCESTER RUGBY
Gallagher Premiership Rugby, Round 18
Saturday 8 May 2021
15 George Furbank
14 Matt Proctor
13 Rory Hutchinson
12 Piers Francis
11 Tommy Freeman
10 Dan Biggar
9 Tom James
1 Alex Waller (co-capt)
2 Sam Matavesi
3 Paul Hill
4 Dave Ribbans
5 Api Ratuniyarawa
6 Tom Wood
7 Lewis Ludlam (co-capt)
8 Teimana Harrison
Not available due to injury:
Owen Franks (foot), Mikey Haywood (hand), Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi (achilles), Nick Isiekwe (pectoral), Courtney Lawes (pectoral), Alex Mitchell (ankle), Ryan Olowofela (ankle), Ollie Sleightholme (back) and Kayde Sylvester (achilles).
Referee: Ian Tempest
Assistant referee: Hamish Smales and Wayne Falla
No.4: Alex Thomas
TMO: Trevor Fisher