Preview: Leicester Tigers v Northampton Saints

Date published: December 2 2016

Logovi'i Mulipola and JP Pietersen return from international duty to join the Leicester Tigers line-up for Saturday's East Midlands derby match against Northampton Saints at Welford Road.

Mulipola has been with Samoa during the autumn Test period and goes straight back into the Tigers front row alongside Greg Bateman and club captain Tom Youngs.

Mike Fitzgerald has recovered from a knock which forced his withdrawal in the first half of last weekend's win at Bristol in Round 9 and resumes in the back row, where he is joined by Brendon O'Connor and number eight Luke Hamilton.

Jono Kitto comes in at scrum-half in the only change to the backline after the 21-16 victory at Bristol.

Springbok wing Pietersen is included among the replacements alongside Manu Tuilagi who made his comeback from injury last week.

Meanwhile, Ben Foden will lead the Northampton Saints team out as captain at Welford Road, where JJ Hanrahan makes his first appearance of the season in the backline.

George North and Louis Picamoles return to the starting line-up after international duty, while Paul Hill’s starts at tighthead prop as the last of four changes. 

Form: Leicester Tigers have lost just once in the last four rounds of the Premiership: 10-24 at champions Saracens in Round 7. The Tigers have been defeated just once in any competition at Welford Road since February, by Wasps in the Premiership on 10 September. Northampton Saints have scored just seven tries in the last seven rounds of the Premiership, although they have won three of these games. The Saints have been victorious in three of their last five away games in the Premiership with the defeats being at Saracens and at Harlequins. The Tigers have won their last three encounters with the Saints in the Premiership since Northampton’s 23-19 victory at Franklin’s Gardens in December 2014. The Saints have not won at Welford Road since a single point victory in February 2007. 

The teams:

Leicester Tigers: 15 George Worth, 14 Adam Thompstone, 13 Peter Betham, 12 Owen Williams, 11 Tom Brady, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Jono Kitto, 8 Luke Hamilton, 7 Brendon O'Connor, 6 Mike Fitzgerald, 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 Ed Slater, 3 Greg Bateman, 2 Tom Youngs (c), 1 Logovi'i Mulipola
Replacements: 16 Harry Thacker, 17 Ellis Genge, 18 Pat Cilliers, 19 Lachlan McCaffrey, 20 Will Evans, 21 Sam Harrison, 22 Manu Tuilagi, 23 JP Pietersen

Northampton Saints: 15 Ben Foden (c), 14 Jamie Elliott, 13 Luther Burrell, 12 JJ Hanrahan, 11 George North, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Tom Kessell, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Ben Nutley, 6 Jamie Gibson, 5 James Craig, 4 Michael Paterson, 3 Paul Hill, 2 Mikey Haywood, 1 Alex Waller 
Replacements: 16 Charlie Clare, 17 Ethan Waller, 18 Gareth Denman, 19 Api Ratuniyarawa, 20 Lewis Ludlam, 21 Nic Groom, 22 George Pisi, 23 Ken Pisi

Date: Saturday, December 3
Venue: Welford Road
Kick-off: 17:00 GMT
Referee: JP Doyle
Assistant Referees: Luke Pearce, Wayne Falla
TMO: Trevor Fisher