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Wood, Naiyaravoro and Freeman start as Saints welcome Bath

Director of Rugby Chris Boyd has made five changes to Northampton Saints’ line-up this weekend as they finally return to Franklin’s Gardens for the first time in 2021.

The men in Black, Green and Gold welcome Bath in the Gallagher Premiership on the back of three consecutive wins on the road against Gloucester, Wasps and Exeter Chiefs.

It will be the first clash on home soil for Saints since Boxing Day following a number of matches cancelled or postponed due to Covid-19, and the hosts boast a superb home record over the West Country side, having lost to Bath only twice at Franklin’s Gardens since 2000.

Tom Wood comes back into the starting line-up for Northampton for the first time this year, and replaces the injured Shaun Adendorff in the No.8 jersey.

The only other change to the pack comes at loosehead prop where Nick Auterac starts, joining hooker Sam Matavesi and tighthead Ehren Painter in the front row.

David Ribbans and Api Ratuniyarawa continue their partnership in the engine room while flankers Lewis Ludlam – who leads out the side as captain – and Nick Isiekwe both start together in the back row for the fifth straight match.

George Furbank continues in the No.10 jersey for Saints, but there is a change inside him as Tom James starts at scrum-half.

Two changes in the back three see Taqele Naiyaravoro and young fullback Tommy Freeman return to the starting XV, joining wing Matt Proctor, and Rory Hutchinson and Piers Francis continue in the centres to round off the line-up.

Meanwhile amongst the replacements, Boyd can call on the likes of Alex Waller, Paul Hill, Ollie Sleightholme, Harry Mallinder and Henry Taylor off the bench.

NORTHAMPTON SAINTS vs BATH RUGBY
Gallagher Premiership Rugby, Round 11
Sunday 28 February 2021
Franklin’s Gardens
Kick-off: 1pm

15 Tommy Freeman
14 Matt Proctor
13 Rory Hutchinson
12 Piers Francis
11 Taqele Naiyaravoro
10 George Furbank
9 Tom James

1 Nick Auterac
2 Sam Matavesi
3 Ehren Painter
4 David Ribbans
5 Api Ratuniyarawa
6 Nick Isiekwe
7 Lewis Ludlam (c)
8 Tom Wood

Replacements:
16 Reece Marshall
17 Alex Waller
18 Paul Hill
19 Alex Moon
20 Alex Coles
21 Henry Taylor
22 Harry Mallinder
23 Ollie Sleightholme

Not available due to injury:
Shaun Adendorff (knee), Owen Franks (foot), Teimana Harrison (hand), Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi (achilles), Emmanuel Iyogun (ankle), and Kayde Sylvester (achilles).

Referee: Ian Tempest
Assistant Referees: Paul Dix and Jonathan Healy
No.4: Alex Thomas
TMO: Craig Maxwell-Keys

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