Preview: Northampton v Treviso

Date published: December 12 2014

Northampton boss Jim Mallinder has rung the changes to his starting XV for Saturday’s clash with Treviso at Franklin’s Gardens.

In all there are nine changes from the 15 players which began last weekend’s game in north-east Italy.

There are returns for James Wilson, George Pisi, George North and Kahn Fotuali’i in the back line, and Ethan Waller, Dylan Hartley, Salesi Ma’afu, Courtney Lawes and Tom Wood up front.

Saints’ England and British and Irish Lions prop Alex Corbisiero, who had a lengthy spell on the sidelines due to shoulder surgery, was not passed fit to play in this encounter.

The clash is crucial in maintaining Saints’ ambitions of progression to the Champions Cup knockout stages.

Meanwhile, Treviso have also chopped and changed after last weekend’s home 38-15 defeat to Saints. There are three changes in the backs, with Luca Morisi and Enrico Bacchin forming a new midfield partnership. They replace Michele Campagnaro and Sam Christie respectively while Edoardo Gori comes in for lberto Lucchese at scrum-half.

Up front, there seven changes including a positional switch. Mathew Henry Luamanu takes over from Dean Budd at number eight while Francesco Minto – who played at lock last weekend – and Meyer Swanepoel replace Alessandro Zanni and Simone Favaro as the starting flankers.

Minto’s place in the second row is taken by Marco Fuser while Matteo Muccignat and Matteo Zanusso are the starting props and Albert Alfred Anae the new hooker.

Form: Northampton moved level on points with Racing at the top of Pool 5 with last week’s bonus point win over Treviso in Italy. That was their third win from three games against the Italians. Saints are enjoying a successful season, and also sit top of the Aviva Premiership after nine matches. Treviso, meanwhile, are still looking for their first win of the season in all competitions. Their last win in Europe came against the Ospreys in January 2013.

The teams:

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

Treviso: 15 Jayden Hayward; 14 Simone Ragusi, 13 Luca Morisi, 12 Enrico Bacchin, 11 Ludovico Nitoglia, 10 Joe Carlisle, 9 Edoardo Gori, 8 Mathew Henry Luamanu, 7 Francesco Minto, 6 Meyer Swanepoel, 5 Marco Fuser, 4 Antonio Pavanello (c), 3 Matteo Muccignat, 2 Albert Alfred Anae, 1 Matteo Zanusso.
Replacements: 16 Amar Kudin, 17 Jos