Preview: Northampton v Leicester

Date published: April 15 2016

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Northampton have made four changes to their side that will take on rivals Leicester in the Premiership at Franklin's Gardens on Saturday.

Ahsee Tuala, Tom Kessell, Kieran Brookes and Tom Wood come into the team, with Wood also named as captain against the Tigers.

Ben Foden, Kahn Fotuali'i, Paul Hill and Ben Nutley drop out of the starting XV, with the former duo missing out altogether in the squad.

Meanwhile, Leicester Tigers have picked an unchanged starting line-up for Saturday's Premiership derby.

Director of rugby Richard Cockerill stays with the team that started the win over Stade Francais in the European Champions Cup quarter-final last week, while Ed Slater and Sam Harrison come back on to the bench after their late withdrawal last Sunday in the only changes to the matchday squad.

Scrum-half Harrison is in line for his 100th appearance for the club since making his debut as a teenager in 2009.

Mathew Tait leads the team from full-back and is joined in the back three by wings Vereniki Goneva and Telusa Veainu who have 21 tries between them this season. Peter Betham continues at centre alongside Manu Tuilagi, with Freddie Burns and Ben Youngs at half-back.

The forward pack includes international front-rows Marcos Ayerza and Dan Cole alongside hooker Harry Thacker, with Dom Barrow and Graham Kitchener at lock. The back-row includes Mike Fitzgerald, who was this week named Players' Player of the Year, with Brendon O'Connor and Lachlan McCaffrey.

Form: The Saints have only lost once at home since December and welcome a Tigers team that currently sit fourth in the Premiership Rugby table – one position and four points clear of their East Midlands rivals. Saints' form has been mixed of late however as an injury-hit squad have lost three of their last four in all competitions to slip out of the top four in the league and crash out of Europe. Leicester Tigers' last nine fixtures have all been won by the home side on the day and the Tigers have not won on their last two visits to Franklin's Gardens. Leicester did however beat Northampton 30-27 at Welford Road in Round 9 of this season.

The teams:

Northampton: 15 Ahsee Tuala, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 George Pisi, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 Jamie Elliott, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Tom Kessell, 8 Teimana Harrison, 7 Tom Wood (c), 6 Courtney Lawes, 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 Victor Matfield, 20 Ben Nutley, 21 JJ Hanrahan, 22 Harry Mallinder, 23 Tom Collins

Leicester: 15 Mathew Tait (c), 14 Telusa Veainu, 13 Peter Betham, 12 Manu Tuilagi, 11 Vereniki Goneva, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Lachlan McCaffrey, 7 Brendon O'Connor, 6 Mike Fitzgerald, 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 Dom Barrow, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Harry Thacker, 1 Marcos Ayerza
Replacements: 16 Greg Bateman, 17 Logovi'i Mulipola, 18 Fraser Balmain, 19 Ed Slater, 20 Tom Croft, 21 Sam Harrison, 22 Owen Williams, 23 Adam Thompstone

Date: Saturday, April 16
Venue: Franklin's Gardens
Kick-off: 17:30 local (16:30 GMT)
Referee: Matthew Carley
Assistant Referees: Paul Dix, Roy Maybank
TMO: Sean Davey

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