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Preview: Northampton v Leicester

29th March 2013 11:26

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Leicester Northampton Anthony Allen

East Midlands derby: Saints v Tigers

Leicester Tigers have named an unchanged team for Saturday's Premiership derby with Northampton Saints at Franklin's Gardens.

The sold-out signs have been hung outside Franklin's Gardens for weeks ahead of the top-four East Midlands derby.

Richard Cockerill retains the 23-man squad that recorded a valuable victory away to Exeter Chiefs in Round 18 last Saturday, with Toby Flood as captain.

"Fixtures between Leicester and Northampton are always very competitive and we're both chasing semi-final spots," said Tigers director of rugby Cockerill.

"We had a very good win at Exeter last week, the international boys came back in and got straight into it, and we'll be up for the battle.

"We have a lot of respect for Saints and their supporters, we obviously know each other very well and a healthy rivalry is good for both us.

"Both sides want to play and score tries, and we'll both be going into it in a positive frame of mind."

Meanwhile, Saints have made just two changes to their starting XV.

Tom May takes over at inside centre from Dom Waldouck while Tom Wood starts at number eight with GJ van Velze dropping to the bench.

Luther Burrell is added to the replacements.

Christian Day says that Northampton have to be ready for a massive test.

"Any time you play a team in the top six you know you're playing international standard players in practically every position and Leicester are no different to that," the Saints lock commented.

"We've got a close rivalry and playing Leicester is a massive test, no matter where you're from. They've been at the pinnacle of European rugby for a long time and we know they're coming here to test us once again.

"We need to up our game and look to get the win we want."

Form: The Saints have won four games on the spin in the Aviva Premiership and moved into the top-four play-off places last weekend courtesy of their last-gasp win against Wasps at Adams Park. Leicester are the Aviva Premiership's best away side having secured 27 league points on their travels this season. Saints and Tigers both jointly lead the Aviva Premiership, along with Wasps, in scoring 40 tries a piece during this season's campaign. Leicester have won their last six encounters with Northampton in all competitions since the Saints' 27-19 win at Franklin's Gardens in the opening round of the 2010/11 Aviva Premiership season.

The teams:

Northampton Saints: 15 Ben Foden, 14 James Wilson, 13 George Pisi, 12 Tom May, 11 Jamie Elliott, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 Tom Wood, 7 Phil Dowson, 6 Samu Manoa, 5 Christian Day, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Tom Mercey, 2 Dylan Hartley (c), 1 Soane Tonga'uiha.
Replacements:16 Ross McMillan, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Brian Mujati, 19 GJ van Velze, 20 Ben Nutley, 21 Martin Roberts, 22 Ryan Lamb, 23 Luther Burrell.

Leicester Tigers: 15 Mathew Tait, 14 Niall Morris, 13 Manusamoa Tuilagi, 12 Anthony Allen, 11 Adam Thompstone, 10 Toby Flood (c), 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Jordan Crane, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Tom Croft, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Ed Slater, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tom Youngs, 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Replacements:16 Rob Hawkins, 17 Logovi'i Mulipola, 18 Martin Castrogiovanni, 19 Thomas Waldrom, 20 Graham Kitchener, 21 Sam Harrison, 22 George Ford, 23 Matt Smith.

Date: Saturday, 30 March
Venue: Franklin's Gardens
Kick-off: 15:00
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant referees: Robin Goodliffe & Roy Maybank
TMO: David Grashoff

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PosTeamPPts
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3Gloucester00
4Harlequins00
5Leicester Tigers00