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Preview: Northampton v Leeds

25th September 2009 12:01

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Leeds v Newcastle Rob Vickerman r Jonny Hepworth

Back in: Jonny Hepworth

Northampton have made four changes to their starting line-up ahead of Saturday's clash with lowly Leeds.

The Saints return home after a fortnight on the road that included last week's win at Kingsholm. However, boss Jim Mallinder warned that nothing should be taken for granted at Franklin's Gardens.

"The Worcester game showed that a win isn't guaranteed just by us playing on home turf," he said before saying he expects a tough day.

"Leeds are always going to be a threat. They've got good coaches and good players and will exploit any weakness on our part.

"They aren't going to give up and we'll have to work hard for every point.

"We've got to be in the right place, mentally and physically."

Mallinder's changes to last Saturday's team include Chris Mayor, Brett Sharman, Courtney Lawes and Roger Wilson coming in for James Downey, Dylan Hartley, Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe and Neil Best respectively. Phil Dowson wears the captain's armband.

"We have plenty of good players in our squad and it is important in a long season that they all get game time," he continued.

Meanwhile, Leeds have also made four changes to the starting line-up for their trip.

Scott Barrow, Lee Blackett, Kearnan Myall and Danny Paul have all been ruled out through injury and join captain Marco Wentzel, hooker Rob Rawlinson, full-back Leigh Hinton and new signing Seru Rabeni on the sidelines this week.

New signing Henry Fa'afili will arrive in England on Sunday after being granted visa clearance whilst the club is still waiting on Mike MacDonald and Fosi Pala'amo.

One change comes in the back line with Jonny Hepworth reverting back to the starting XV in place of Luther Burrell. In the forwards, hooker Phil Nilsen comes in for his first start this season in place of Vili Ma'asi and Rhys Oakley returns at number eight in place of Alfie To'oala.

Form: The last four Premiership meetings between the two teams have been won by the home side, whilst Leeds have never won in five previous visits to Franklin's Gardens in the Premiership. Leeds did however win there 24-19 in the quarter-final of the Powergen Cup on 22 January 2005. Northampton Saints have won four of their last five matches in all competitions, whilst the Saints only reversal at Franklin's Gardens since March 2007 remains 13-19 at the hands of Newcastle in the Guinness Premiership on 28 February 2009. Leeds Carnegie just have two points to show from their first three Guinness Premiership matches this season, courtesy of an opening weekend draw at home to Newcastle. Leeds have won only one of their last 23 away games in the Premiership since April 2005: 16-12 at Bath on 25 November 2005.

The teams:

Northampton: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Jon Clarke, 12 Chris Mayor, 11 Bruce Reihana, 10 Shane Geraghty, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 Roger Wilson, 7 Scott Gray, 6 Phil Dowson (capt), 5 Juandre Kruger, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Santiago Bonorino, 2 Brett Sharman, 1 Soane Tonga'uiha.
Replacements: 16 Matt Cairns, 17 Regardt Dreyer, 18 Brian Mujati, 19 Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe, 20 Neil Best, 21 Alan Dickens, 22 Barry Everitt, 23 Joe Ansbro.

Leeds: 15 Jon Goodridge, 14 Richard Welding, 13 Jonny Hepworth, 12 Henry Paul, 11 Scott Armstrong, 10 Ceiron Thomas, 9 Andy Gomarsall, 8 Rhys Oakley, 7 Hendre Fourie, 6 Tom Denton, 5 Jon Pendlebury (capt), 4 Erik Lund, 3 Juan Gomez, 2 Phil Nilsen, 1 Gareth Hardy.
Replacements: 16 Vili Ma'asi, 17 Alex Moreno, 18 Tommy McGee, 19 Calum Clark, 20 Alfie To'oala, 21 Scott Mathie, 22 Luther Burrell, 23 Peter Wackett.

Date: Saturday, September 26
Kick-off: 15:00 BST
Venue: Franklin's Gardens
Referee: Sean Davey
Assistant referees: Bruce Robertson, Martin Buck
Television match official: Brian Abrahams

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