Preview: Northampton v Worcester

Date published: February 24 2017

Northampton Saints boss Jim Mallinder has made one change to his starting XV for Saturday’s Premiership clash with Worcester at Franklin’s Gardens.

In the only alteration to the run-on side which lost at Newcastle Falcons last year, Michael Paterson returns into the second row in place of Api Ratuniyarawa, who drops to the replacements bench.

Ratuniyarawa will be joined amongst the replacements by Sam Dickinson and James Wilson.

Saturday’s game will be preceded by a minute’s silence to remember former Saint Dan Vickerman, who sadly passed away last weekend aged just 37.

Meanwhile, Niall Annett and Phil Dowson are among three changes to the Warriors starting line-up.

Hooker Annett will make his first appearance since picking up an injury in the return fixture against Saints in November, while back-row Dowson is recalled to the Warriors line-up in place of Chris Vui who picked up a knock in training.

Dowson, who announced this week that he will be returning to Franklin’s Gardens in the summer in a coaching capacity, is set for his 260th Premiership appearance as he fronts up against his former and future club again this weekend.

Meanwhile, Sam Lewis is also recalled to the side as he replaces Alafoti Faosiliva who misses out because of a knee problem.

The backline remains unchanged for a third week running but fit-again full-back Chris Pennell is handed a place on the bench and could make his first appearance in almost two months.

Form: Northampton Saints have slipped to successive Premiership defeats at Bath and at Newcastle but have not lost three in a row in the same season in the tournament since 2013/14. The Saints have won their last four home games since the reversal to Leinster in the European Champions Cup on 9 December. Worcester Warriors have won only three games of the Premiership this season but two of those have come since the turn of the New Year. The Warriors have not been victories on their travels in the Premiership since they visited Harlequins in March 2016. Northampton’s only loss in their last eight fixtures with Worcester was by a single point at Sixways in October 2015 whilst the Warriors have not been victorious at Franklin’s Gardens since a 10-9 win on New Year’s Day 2007.

The teams:

Northampton: 15 Ahsee Tuala, 14 Ken Pisi 13 Nafi Tuitavake, 12 Harry Mallinder, 11 Ben Foden (c), 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Teimana Harrison, 7 Calum Clark, 6 Jamie Gibson, 5 Christian Day, 4 Michael Paterson, 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Mikey Haywood, 1 Alex Waller
Replacements: 16 Charlie Clare, 17 Ethan Waller, 18 Paul Hill, 19 Api Ratuniyarawa, 20 Sam Dickinson, 21 Lee Dickson, 22 James Wilson, 23 Juan Pablo Estelles

Worcester: 15 Josh Adams, 14 Bryce Heem, 13 Wynand Olivier, 12 Jackson Willison, 11 Perry Humphreys, 10 Ryan Mills, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Dewald Potgieter, 7 Sam Lewis, 6 Phil Dowson, 5 Will Spencer, 4 Donncha O’Callaghan (c), 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Niall Annett, 1 Ryan Bower
Replacements: 16 Jaba Bregvadze, 17 Na’ama Leleimalefaga, 18 Biyi Alo, 19 Tevita Cavuabti, 20 Marco Mama, 21 Luke Baldwin, 22 Ryan Lamb, 23 Chris Pennell

Date: Saturday, February 25
Venue: Franklin’s Gardens
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Assistant Referees: Greg MacDonald, Roger Baileff
TMO: Trevor Fisher