Preview: Leicester v Northampton

Date published: October 4 2013

Leicester Tigers and Northampton Saints will run out in front of a capacity crowd in the opening East Midlands derby of the season.

Leicester Tigers and Northampton Saints will run out in front of a capacity 24,000 crowd in the opening East Midlands derby of the season.

All tickets have been sold for the 229th East Midlands derby – and the 113th at the home of the Tigers – ahead of the eagerly-anticipated encounter.

Leicester director of rugby Richard Cockerill makes just one change to the starting line-up following victory at Exeter Chiefs last week, with Graham Kitchener partnering Louis Deacon in the second row.

Thomas Waldrom and David Mele, who both missed the trip to Sandy Park on Sunday, are included among the replacements.

Meanwhile, Northampton Saints have made two changes to the team which heads up the M1 to Leicester, with Tom Wood and Samu Manoa both returning to the pack.

Otherwise the Saints coaches have retained the starting line-up that beat Sale Sharks in Round Four last Friday.

It is also a big day for Stephen Myler and Lee Dickson, who will become Aviva Premiership's record holders for the most starts as a half-back partnership.

Saturday's game will be the 59th occasion the two will have started as a pair in the black, green and gold, one ahead of Martyn Wood and current Saints coach Alex King.

Form: The two clubs that contested last season's Aviva Premiership Rugby final once more lock horns at Welford Road. The Tigers only loss in their last seven fixtures came at Bath in round 2, whilst they have been defeated only once at Welford Road in any competition in the last twelve months: 27-32 to Saracens in February.Northampton Saints have lost just once so far this season: 24-26 at Gloucester in round 3. The Saints have won six of their last eight away games in the Premiership. The Tigers have been victorious in their last eight fixtures with The Saints, their best run against their near neighbours and East Midlands rivals since the 1980s. Northampton have not won at Welford Road since their 10-9 victory there in the Premiership in February 2007.

The teams:

Leicester: 15 Niall Morris, 14 Blaine Scully, 13 Vereniki Goneva, 12 Anthony Allen, 11 Adam Thompstone, 10 Toby Flood (c), 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Jordan Crane, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Ed Slater, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Louis Deacon, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tom Youngs, 1 Logovi'i Mulipola.
Replacements: 16 Neil Briggs, 17 Boris Stankovich, 18 Fraser Balmain, 19 Graham Kitchener, 20 Jamie Gibson, 21 Sam Harrison, 22 Owen Williams, 23 Dan Bowden.

Northampton Saints: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Jamie Elliott, 13 George Pisi, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 George North, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 Sam Dickinson, 7 Phil Dowson, 6 Tom Wood, 5 Samu Manoa, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Tom Mercey, 2 Dylan Hartley (c), 1 Alex Corbisiero.
Replacements: 16 Mike Haywood, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Gareth Denman, 19 GJ Van Velze, 20 Calum Clark, 21 Kahn Fotuali'i, 22 James Wilson, 23 Ken Pisi.

Date: Saturday, October 5
Kick-off: 15:15 BST
Venue: Welford Road
Referee: J P Doyle
Assistant referees : Paul Dix and Robin Goodliffe
TMO: David Grashoff