Preview: Northampton Saints v Harlequins

Date published: March 25 2016

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Northampton Saints have made five changes to the starting line-up for the Premiership Round 18 clash with Harlequins, who like the Saints are well in the hunt for a place in the play-off positions.

Luther Burrell, George North and Stephen Myler come into the backline, with Kieran Brookes and Tom Wood returning to the pack.

There is also a possible senior debut for Campese Ma’afu, who has been included in a matchday 23 for the first time since arriving at Franklin’s Gardens earlier in the year.

Meanwhile, for Harlequins there are ten changes to the starting team that played Worcester Warriors last week.

Captain Danny Care makes his 200th senior appearance, with Matt Hopper looking to make his 100th appearance for the club off the bench.

Care is joined in the starting line up by fellow Grand Slam winning internationals Joe Marler, Jack Clifford and Mike Brown, with Chris Robshaw named among the replacements.

Joe Gray and Will Collier are named in the front row, with Tim Visser and Jamie Roberts returning from international duty to start in the backline alongside Joe Marchant.

Form: Harlequins have won just two of their last nine fixtures in all competitions – both at Twickenham Stoop in Premiership Rugby, against Leicester Tigers and Bath. Quins have lost their last four away games in the tournament since beating Worcester Warriors 24-20 at Sixways in Round 8, while the Saints have won their last six fixtures against Harlequins in all tournaments. Northampton Saints’ three-game winning run in Premiership Rugby ended at Exeter Chiefs on Sunday. The Saints only defeat in any competition at Franklin’s Gardens since early November was 24-11 to Wasps in January.

The teams:

Northampton: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 George Pisi, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 George North, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Lee Dickson (c), 8 Teimana Harrison, 7 Tom Wood, 6 Jamie Gibson, 5 Christian Day, 4 James Craig, 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Mikey Haywood, 1 Alex Waller
Replacements: 16 Reece Marshall, 17 Campese Ma’afu, 18 Paul Hill, 19 Courtney Lawes, 20 Sam Dickinson, 21 Kahn Fotuali’i, 22 JJ Harrahan, 23 Harry Mallinder

Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Charlie Walker, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Ben Botica, 9 Danny Care (c), 8 Nick Easter, 7 Luke Wallace, 6 Jack Clifford, 5 James Horwill, 4 George Merrick, 3 Will Collier, 2 Joe Gray, 1 Joe Marler
Replacements: 16 Dave Ward, 17 Mark Lambert, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 Mat Luamanu, 20 Chris Robshaw, 21 Karl Dickson, 22 Matt Hopper, 23 Ross Chisholm

Date: Sunday, March 27
Venue: Franklin’s Gardens
Kick-off: 15:15 local (14:15 GMT)
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth
Assistant Referees: Wayne Falla, Paul Burton
TMO: Graham Hughes

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