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Preview: Northampton v Ospreys

18th October 2013 12:46

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Lee Dickson Northampton Saints

Starter: Lee Dickson

The Ospreys travel to Northampton Saints on Sunday with both sides looking to respond to defeats in Round 1.

A late penalty from Leinster fly-half Jimmy Gopperth denied the Ospreys a crucial losing bonus point, with Saints going one better thanks to finishing within seven points of French champions Castres.

Northampton's recruitment of big name players over the off-season was designed with Heineken Cup success in mind, so a winning return at Franklin's Gardens will be a prime objective for head coach Jim Mallinder.

Lee Dickson will start at scrum-half for Saints when they host Welsh side, after being named in the England squad earlier this week.

Dickson has won the selection battle ahead of Samoan number nine Kahn Fotuali'i, who will face off against his old club for the first time since leaving Swansea over the off-season.

The Saints coaches have made several changes to the starting line-up which earned a losing bonus point from Castres in Round 1.

Jamie Elliott and Dickson come in at wing and scrum-half respectively, with Alex Waller replacing the injured Alex Corbisiero in the front row and Phil Dowson and Samu Manoa both coming into the back row.

Ken Pisi, Fotuali'i and Calum Clark all drop to the bench, with Ethan Waller and GJ Van Velze coming into the match day squad.

Meanwhile for the Ospreys, wing Jeff Hassler wins his first start in place of Ben John, with Tom Habberfield replacing Tito Tebaldi at scrum-half.

Ryan Bevington gets the start at loosehead prop ahead of Duncan Jones.

"This is a big game for us, one that everybody in the camp is really looking forward to," said Ospreys head coach Steve Tandy.

"We didn't do ourselves justice at the Liberty on Saturday, we had the third biggest Heineken Cup crowd of the weekend and it's disappointing that we weren't able to reward such a big turnout with a good performance.

"We are well aware that we need to make some big improvements if we are going to put in the kind of performance at Northampton that we need. They are in the same boat as us having also lost their first game, so no doubt there'll be a tension and edge to the game.

"This is a very difficult group but there's still everything to play for and there's going to be plenty of twists and turns. We can't worry about what the other teams in the group do, we've got to fight all the way and make sure we put ourselves in a position to take advantage of the twists and turns. We have to show what we are about on Sunday.

"It's going to be a big test of character and attitude, how this group reacts to a setback, but we know enough about them to realise that we have big-game players in the squad, individuals who are used to pressure situations and it will be up to them to lead by example on Sunday.

"It'll be a great contest, and we'll have to front up to a big, physical team, but that's an exciting prospect."

Northampton Saints: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Jamie Elliott, 13 George Pisi, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 George North, 10 Steve Myler, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 Samu Manoa, 7 Phil Dowson, 6 Tom Wood, 5 Christian Day, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Salesi Ma'afu, 2 Dylan Hartley (capt), 1 Alex Waller,
Replacements: 16 Mikey Haywood, 17 Ethan Waller, 18 Gareth Denman, 19 Gerrit-Jan van Velze, 20 Calum Clark, 21 Kahn Fotuali'i, 22 James Wilson, 23 Ken Pisi,

Ospreys: 15 Richard Fussell, 14 Jeff Hassler, 13 Andrew Bishop, 12 Ashley Beck, 11 Eli Walker, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Tom Habberfield, 8 Joe Bearman, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Ryan Jones, 5 James King, 4 Alun Wyn Jones (capt), 3 Adam Jones, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Ryan Bevington.
Replacements: 16 Scott Baldwin, 17 Duncan Jones, 18 Aaron Jarvis, 19 Tyler Ardron, 20 Morgan Allen, 21 Sam Lewis, 22 Tito Tebaldi, 23 Matthew Morgan.

Date: Sunday, October 20
Kick-off: 12:45 local (11:45 GMT)
Venue: Franklin's Gardens
Referee: Alain Rolland (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Stuart Gaffikin (Ireland), Jonathan Peak (Ireland)
Television match official: Simon McDowell (Ireland)

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