Preview: Harlequins v Northampton

Date published: December 26 2014

Harlequins has named their squad to play Northampton Saints at Twickenham Stadium, with five changes made to the XV that beat Newcastle.

Ugo Monye, who made his return from injury last week is named on the wing as Danny Care starts at scrum-half.

In the forwards, Dave Ward and Will Collier start in the front-row, while Nick Easter captains the side at number eight.

Joe Marler and Nick Evans are unavailable for selection this week having failed to recover in time from injuries sustained against Leinster in the European Rugby Champions Cup.

Meanwhile, Mike Haywood comes in as hooker for Northampton, with Sam Dickinson in the second-row, Lee Dickson at scrum-half, George Pisi in the centres and Ben Foden at full-back.

On the bench there are returns for Ross McMillan, Alex Corbisiero and Ben Nutley.

Tom Wood, who will wear the captain’s armband in the absence of Dylan Hartley.

Form: Harlequins’ two victories in their last five rounds of Aviva Premiership Rugby action were away at Gloucester in round 7 and at home to Newcastle last weekend. Harlequins have won on their last six visits to Twickenham, whilst their only two defeats in the six previous Christmas ‘Big Games’ at the home of rugby were against Wasps in 2009 and Saracens in 2011. Northampton Saints only defeat in their last eight Aviva Premiership rugby fixtures was at home to Exeter in round 7. The Saints return for the first time to the scene of their maiden Premiership Rugby title win, beating Saracens there in an extra time thriller in last season’s Aviva Premiership Rugby final. Saints overall record at Twickenham is won three, lost five. The two clubs met on three occasions last season in all tournaments with Northampton victorious in each instance. Harlequins and Northampton have met just once before at Twickenham – the final of the 1991 Pilkington Cup which Quins took 25-13 after extra time.

The teams:

Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Marland Yarde, 13 Matt Hopper, 12 George Lowe, 11 Ugo Monye, 10 Tim Swiel, 9 Danny Care, 8 Nick Easter (c), 7 Jack Clifford, 6 Joe Trayfoot, 5 George Robson, 4 Charlie Matthews, 3 Will Collier, 2 Dave Ward, 1 Mark Lambert.
Replacements: 16 Joe Gray, 17 Darryl Marfo, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 Sam Twomey, 20 James Chisholm, 21 Karl Dickson, 22 Tom Casson, 23 Ross Chisholm.

Northampton: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 George Pisi 12 Luther Burrell, 11 George North, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 Samu Manoa, 7 Tom Wood (c), 6 Calum Clark, 5 Christian Day, 4 Sam Dickinson, 3 Salesi Ma’afu, 2 Mike Haywood, 1 Alex Waller.
Replacements: 16 Ross McMillan, 17 Alex Corbisiero, 18 Gareth Denman, 19 Ben Nutley, 20 Phil Dowson, 21 Kahn Fotuali’i, 22 James Wilson, 23 Tom Stephenson.

Date: Saturday, December 27
Kick-off: 16:30 GMT
Venue: Twickenham
Referee: Wayne Barnes (146th Premiership game)
Assistant Referees: Paul Dix and Kelvin Stewart
TMO: Sean Davey