Preview: Leeds Carnegie v Northampton

Date published: March 11 2011

Northampton rugby director Jim Mallinder has revealed that this week's training has been about the basics ahead of facing Leeds.

Northampton boss Jim Mallinder has revealed that this week's training has been about the basics ahead of facing Leeds Carnegie on Saturday.

Saints have lost four successive games for the first time in Mallinder's tenure in charge, which started in the summer of 2007. But the Saints boss says that there has been no panic in trying to get back to the form that took the team into the top four in the first half of the term, just a lot of work from both players and coaches.

“We've swapped things around a bit this week, but not got away from the basics that have seen us win games in the last three-and-a-half years,” he said.

“We played some good rugby in patches in the first half last week. Even though we made some mistakes we battled our way to a 9-3 lead at half-time and were in a good position, although some unfortunate mistakes in the second half saw us concede points.

“You've got to look to do your best in every game. Leeds won last week and have some momentum. It's a massive game for both clubs.”

Meanwhile, Neil Back has made three changes to his side for this Saturday's massive Aviva Premiership clash in terms of their top flight safety.

All the changes come in the pack with two of them enforced on the coach. Steve Thompson is away on international duty with England and so is replaced by youngster Scott Freer at hooker whilst skipper Marco Wentzel has been ruled out with a calf injury he aggravated in last week's win over London Irish. Sean Hohneck will start in the second row alongside Daniel Browne.

Argentinean prop Juan Gomez will start at tighthead instead of Phil Swainston who is amongst the replacements.

With Thompson away, Phil Nilsen returns on the bench whilst youngster James Craig completes the 22 with Hohneck in the starting line-up this week.

Form: This match was originally scheduled for 5 December but was postponed due to snow at Headingley Carnegie. Leeds Carnegie obtained a vital victory at home to London Irish on Sunday – their first Aviva Premiership Rugby win since New Year's Day. Northampton Saints continue to struggle in 2011, and succumbed to a sixth straight Premiership reversal at Exeter Chiefs on Sunday: this represents the Saints' poorest run since they were relegated in season 2004/05. Northampton have already beaten Leeds this season in the Anglo-Welsh Cup and in fact have won the last four clashes with the Yorkshiremen.

The teams:

Leeds Carnegie: 15 Michael Stephenson, 14 Henry Fa'afili, 13 Luther Burrell, 12 Scott Barrow (capt), 11 Peter Wackett, 10 Adrian Jarvis, 9 Scott Mathie, 8 Alfie To'oala, 7 Hendre Fourie, 6 Kearnan Myall, 5 Sean Hohneck, 4 Daniel Browne, 3 Juan Gomez, 2 Scott Freer, 1 Gareth Hardy.
Replacements: 16 Phil Nilsen, 17 Mike MacDonald, 18 Phil Swainston, 19 Danny Paul, 20 James Craig, 21 Warren Fury, 22 Ceiron Thomas, 23 Semi Tadulala.

Northampton: 15 Shane Geraghty, 14 Bruce Reihana, 13 Jon Clarke, 12 James Downey, 11 Paul Diggin, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 Roger Wilson, 7 Phil Dowson (capt), 6 Calum Clark, 5 Christian Day, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Brian Mujati, 2 Brett Sharman, 1 Soane Tonga'uiha.
Replacements: 16 Andy Long, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Tom Mercey, 19 Mark Sorenson, 20 Mark Easter, 21 Stuart Commins, 22 Matt Cornwell, 23 Greig Tonks.

Date: Saturday, March 12
Kick-off: 15:00
Venue: Headingley Carnegie
Referee: Chris White