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Preview: Northampton v Bath

27th December 2013 09:50

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SKY_MOBILE Dylan Hartley - Northampton Saints

Dylan Hartley: Back for Saints

Northampton welcome back three stalwarts to their starting XV for Saturday's Premiership clash with Bath at Franklin's Gardens.

Captain Dylan Hartley and Courtney Lawes both come back into the pack and George Pisi will wear the number 13 shirt following the end of his recent suspension.

Meanwhile, Bath have made just one change to the starting line-up who beat Harlequins last weekend in the Premiership.

Martin Roberts comes into the scrum-half position, with Peter Stringer shifting to the bench. Roberts will re-from his partnership with George Ford in the half-backs.

Matt Banahan and Horacio Agulla are named out wide on the wings, with Jonathan Joseph and Kyle Eastmond in the centres and Anthony Watson continuing at full-back.

In the pack, the all-international front row of Paul James, Rob Webber and Anthony Perenise is once again selected, with Stuart Hooper and Dave Attwood combining in the second row.

Matt Garvey and Francois Louw start on the blind and open side flanks respectively, with Carl Fearns remaining at number eight.

Form: Northampton Saints have won their last five Aviva Premiership Rugby matches since their 19-all draw at Leicester in round 5, their only defeat in the competition this campaign came at Gloucester in round 3. The Saints have won their last five Premiership home games since the Tigers won at Franklin's Gardens in March. Bath Rugby have won their last eleven matches in all tournaments since their 13-19 reversal at Sale Sharks on 4th October - this represents the club's best run for a decade. Northampton have won the last four Premiership matches they have played against Bath since Bath's 38-3 win at The Rec in February 2011. Bath have won just once at Franklin's Gardens since 2000: 37-30 against Saracens there on 6th November 2004.

The teams:

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

Bath: 15 Anthony Watson, 14 Horacio Agulla, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Matt Banahan, 10 George Ford, 9 Martin Roberts, 8 Carl Fearns, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Matt Garvey, 5 Dave Attwood, 4 Stuart Hooper (c), 3 Anthony Perenise, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Paul James.
Replacements: 16 Eusebio Guinazu, 17 Nathan Catt, 18 Juan Pablo Orlandi, 19 Dominic Day, 20 Leroy Houston, 21 Peter Stringer, 22 Tom Heathcote, 23 Nick Abendanon.

Date: Saturday, December 28
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Venue: Franklin's Gardens
Referee: Luke Pearce
Assistant referees: Paul Dix, Kevin Stewart
Timekeeper: Brian Abrahams
Television match official: Keith Lewis
Assessor: Tony Spreadbury

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PosTeamPPts
1Saracens1976
2Northampton1966
3Bath2064
4Leicester Tigers2064
5Harlequins2058