Preview: Northampton v Newcastle

Date published: October 23 2015

1022.6666666666666x767__origin__0x0_Lee_Dickson_Northampton_Saints

Northampton Saints have made three changes to the starting lineup for Saturday's Premiership clash with Newcastle.

The Saints are heading to stadiummk in Milton Keynes to host the Falcons while Franklin's Gardens continues its transformation with the development of the new Barwell Stand.

Tom Wood, Courtney Lawes and George Pisi all come into the side with Michael Paterson and Jon Fisher dropping to the bench.

Samoan international Ahsee Tuala joins the matchday 23 for the first time this season.

Meanwhile, Newcastle Falcons welcome a host of their returning Rugby World Cup stars into their matchday squad as they make a total of six changes to their starting XV.

In a strong team, two of the changes come on the wings as Giovanbattista Venditti makes his club debut and Alesana Tuilagi makes his first start of the season, giving powerful strike options out wide.

The rest of the backline remains unchanged from the season opening game against Gloucester, with Simon Hammersely at full-back, Adam Powell and Chris Harris in the centres, with Ruki Tipuna and Mike Delany the half-backs.

A total of four changes come in the pack, with Scottish international tighthead prop Jon Welsh making his club debut following his return from World Cup duty, joining Rob Vickers and Scott Lawson in the front row.

Another swap in the second row sees Italian international Josh Furno switch with England international Mouritz Botha to pack down alongside Calum Green.

Tongan international Nili Latu joins Venditti in making his first start for the club on the openside flank, as Will Welch lies in wait on the bench after passing tests following a knock to the head against Gloucester.

As a result, the remainder of back row sees a positional shuffle with Todd Clever moving to the blindside while Ally Hogg comes in at number eight, from where he will also captain the side.

Form: The Falcons' solitary away victory in the competition last season came at relegated London Welsh in October though Northampton, away from Franklin's Gardens, haven't had it all their own way. They've won three, lost two in their stadiummk fixtures so far but this is a team who will be desperate to respond after losing their season to opener to the promoted Worcester Warriors.

The teams:

Northampton: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 George Pisi, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 Jamie Elliott, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Lee Dickson (c), 8 Sam Dickinson, 7 Tom Wood, 6 Jamie Gibson, 5 Christian Day, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Dylan Hartley, 1 Alex Waller 
Replacements: 16 Mikey Haywood, 17 Ethan Waller, 18 Paul Hill, 19 Michael Paterson, 20 Jon Fisher, 21 Kahn Fotuali’i, 22 JJ Harrahan, 23 Ahsee Tuala

Newcastle: 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Giovanbattista Venditti, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Adam Powell, 11 Alesana Tuilagi, 10 Mike Delany, 9 Ruki Tipuna, 8 Ally Hogg (c), 7 Nili Latu, 6 Todd Clever, 5 Joshua Furno, 4 Calum Green, 3 Jon Welsh, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Rob Vickers.
Replacements: 16 George McGuigan, 17 Eric Fry, 18 Taione Vea, 19 Mouritz Botha, 20 Will Welch, 21 Ruaridh Dawson, 22 Tom Catterick, 23 Tom Penny

Date: Saturday, October 24
Venue: Stadiummk
Kick-off: 13:45 local (12:45 GMT)
Referee: Dean Richards 
Assistant Referees: Ashley Rowden, Andy Watson
TMO: Keith Lewis

COMMENTS