Planet Rugby

Preview: Northampton v Harlequins

21st December 2012 11:14

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Harlequins Northampton

Wrapped up: Lamb and Brown

Northampton Saints bring Courtney Lawes into the second row in their only change for the Aviva Premiership clash with Harlequins.

"We enjoyed last Saturday's result, but all the chat in the dressing room was about taking the momentum into tomorrow's game against Harlequins," said Mallinder.

"This has been reflected in the attitude in training this week, which has been both intense and positive.

"We all know that Harlequins will pose us plenty of challenges. They are on a good run of form at the moment in all competitions and have shown regularly that they have the temperament and ability to win on the biggest stage.

"But we know we can win the big games, too, and are determined to give our fans something to sing about on Saturday."

Meanwhile, Harlequins have made six changes to the starting line-up of the team which beat Zebre in the Heineken Cup. Among the backs, Ugo Monye moves to the left wing, with Tom Williams starting on the right.

In the forwards, Joe Marler and James Johnston return to start in the front row alongside Joe Gray at hooker. Olly Kohn partners George Robson in the second row, while Maurie Fa'asavalu is named in the back-row.

Among the replacements, Dave Ward comes in for Rob Buchanan who picked up a knock during the Aviva 'A' League final victory over Saracens Storm on Monday night. Mark Lambert will look to make his 100th appearance for the club from the bench.

Form: Northampton Saints' only defeat in their last five matches in all competitions was 6-25 at home to Ulster in the Heineken Cup on December 7. Curiously, in each of the last four Aviva Premiership games the Saints have played their opponents have tallied exactly 16 points! The East Midlanders have won just one of their last four encounters at Franklin's Gardens.

The teams:

Northampton Saints: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 George Pisi, 12 Tom May, 11 Jamie Elliott, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 Gerrit-Jan van Velze, 7 Phil Dowson, 6 Tom Wood, 5 Courtney Lawes, 4 Samu Manoa, 3 Paul Doran-Jones, 2 Mikey Haywood, 1 Soane Tonga'uiha.
Replacements: 16 Ross McMillan, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Brian Mujati, 19 Mark Sorenson, 20 Calum Clark, 21 Martin Roberts, 22 Ryan Lamb, 23 Luther Burrell.

Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Tom Williams, 13 Matt Hopper, 12 Tom Casson, 11 Ugo Monye, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Danny Care, 8 Nick Easter, 7 Chris Robshaw (c), 6 Maurie Fa'asavalu, 5 George Robson, 4 Olly Kohn, 3 James Johnston, 2 Joe Gray, 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Dave Ward, 17 Mark Lambert, 18 Will Collier, 19 Charlie Matthews, 20 Tom Guest, 21 Karl Dickson, 22 Ben Botica, 23 Sam Smith.

Date: Saturday , December 22
Venue: Franklin's Gardens
Kick-off: 15:15 GMT
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant referees: Nigel Carrick, Kevin Stewart
Television match official: David Grashoff

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