Luther Burrell and Tom Collins both return to Northampton Saints’ starting XV this Friday as Chris Boyd’s side look to press on towards the Gallagher Premiership’s top-four places.
The men in Black, Green and Gold travel up to Kingston Park to take on Newcastle Falcons in search of their third straight away victory in the league.
Saints will be hoping to avenge a narrow last-gasp defeat to Falcons at Franklin’s Gardens back in December, with the race for knock-out rugby hitting fever pitch with just three rounds of the regular Gallagher Premiership season remaining.
One of only two changes to the Northampton side that beat Harlequins 20-19 a fortnight ago at Twickenham Stoop, winger Collins replaces the injured George Furbank, and lines up in the back three alongside Taqele Naiyaravoro and Ahsee Tuala.
Meanwhile Burrell comes into Saints’ midfield and plays inside Rory Hutchinson, with Dan Biggar and Cobus Reinach continuing in the half-back berths.
But Boyd’s forwards are completely unchanged from the side’s last outing; Teimana Harrison leading out the line-up in the No.8 jersey, while flankers Jamie Gibson and Tom Wood pack down either side of him.
Francois van Wyk, Paul Hill and hooker Reece Marshall make up the front row for Saints, and locks Api Ratuniyarawa and Courtney Lawes complete the side in the engine room.
“It’s knock-out rugby for everybody at the moment,” said Boyd. “I don’t think there are very many teams that can sit back and say they don’t have anything to play for the next three games – they are crucial.
“We obviously try to win every game we play, so we’re focused on going up to Newcastle which is a tough place to take home points from.
“They are battling so we know we can’t afford to get it wrong on Friday, but we’ve had a really good training week and our attitude is positive, so we’re confident we can haul some points out of the game.”
NEWCASTLE FALCONS vs NORTHAMPTON SAINTS
Gallagher Premiership Rugby, Round 20
Friday 26 April, 2019
15 Ahsee Tuala
14 Tom Collins
13 Rory Hutchinson
12 Luther Burrell
11 Taqele Naiyaravoro
10 Dan Biggar
9 Cobus Reinach
1 Francois van Wyk
2 Reece Marshall
3 Paul Hill
4 Api Ratuniyarawa
5 Courtney Lawes
6 Jamie Gibson
7 Tom Wood
8 Teimana Harrison (c)
16 Samson Ma’asi
17 Alex Waller
18 Ben Franks
19 Alex Coles
20 Devante Onojaife
21 Alex Mitchell
22 James Grayson
23 Andrew Kellaway
Not available for selection:
Andy Symons (knee), Harry Mallinder (knee), Mikey Haywood (knee), Dylan Hartley (knee), Paddy Ryan (knee), Fraser Dingwall (ankle), David Ribbans (ankle), James Fish (concussion), Heinrich Brüssow (concussion), Alex Moon (ankle), James Craig (hamstring), Lewis Ludlam (shoulder), Nafi Tuitavake (elbow), Ollie Sleightholme (ankle), Piers Francis (knee) and George Furbank (concussion).