Preview: Northampton v Exeter

Date published: December 31 2015

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Northampton have made six changes to the team which started the Boxing Day trip to London Irish as they host Exeter on New Year's Day.

Tom Collins and JJ Hanrahan come into the backline and Alex Waller, Mikey Haywood, Victor Matfield and Sam Dickinson join the pack.

Friday's Premiership showdown is totally sold out – guaranteeing a modern-day attendance record at Franklin's Gardens in the process.

Meanwhile, Rob Baxter has made one change to his Exeter pack as England international Tom Johnson is promoted from the bench to replace Julian Salvi at openside, while Ben White is brought onto the bench to provide back-row cover.

Behind, Michele Campagnaro – impressive off the bench against Sale – make his first-ever Premiership start in the centre alongside Ian Whitten, while Olly Woodburn is given the nod on the wing ahead of James Short, who drops down to the bench.

Otherwise, it's 'as you were' for Baxter's side, who including last season's double over the Saints, have won the past three meetings between the two clubs.

Form: Northampton Saints are without a win in their last three matches in all tournaments since beating Bath 13-11 at the Recreation Ground in Premiership Rugby on 5th December. The only side to beat the Saints at Franklin's Gardens in Premiership Rugby since Exeter won there in November 2014 is Saracens, twice. Exeter Chiefs are the best team in Aviva Premiership Rugby over the last six rounds, having dropped only two possible league points in that period. The Chiefs have won three of their last four away games in the tournament. Exeter are going for a third straight victory over the Saints in Premiership Rugby having won both encounters last season. The Chiefs most recent fixture at Franklin's Gardens came when they lost the final of last season's Anglo-Welsh Cup there to Saracens.

The teams:

Northampton: 15 Ben Foden (c), 14 Tom Collins, 13 George Pisi, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 George North, 10 JJ Hanrahan, 9 Kahn Fotuali'i, 8 Sam Dickinson, 7 Teimana Harrison, 6 Jamie Gibson, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Paul Hill, 2 Mikey Haywood, 1 Alex Waller.
Replacements: 16 Dylan Hartley, 17 Ethan Waller, 18 Gareth Denman, 19 Christian Day, 20 Michael Paterson, 21 Lee Dickson, 22 Stephen Myler, 23 Harry Mallinder.

Exeter: 15 Phil Dollman, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Michele Campagnaro, 12 Ian Whitten, 11 Olly Woodburn, 10 Gareth Steenson, 9 Will Chudley, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Tom Johnson, 6 Don Armand, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Mitch Lees, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Jack Yeandle (c), 1 Ben Moon.
Replacements: 16 Elvis Taione, 17 Carl Rimmer, 18 Moray Low, 19 Ollie Atkins, 20 Ben White, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 Will Hooley, 23 James Short.

Date: Friday, January 1
Venue: Franklin's Gardens
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Referee: JP Doyle
Assistant Referees: Craig Maxwell-Keys, Gareth Copsey
TMO: Stuart Terheege

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