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Preview: Northampton v Newcastle

22nd November 2013 09:07

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Courtney Lawes Northampton Heineken Cup

Engine room: Courtney Lawes

Eleven players return to the Northampton Saints starting line-up for Saturday's Aviva Premiership return against Newcastle.

The Saints welcomed back their England contingent this week, with three of the players who starred against New Zealand - full back Ben Foden, scrum-half Lee Dickson and lock Courtney Lawes - donning black, green and gold to take on the Falcons.

Meanwhile Jamie Elliott and Sam Dickinson have both recovered from their respective knocks to take their places on the wing and at number eight, while Luther Burrell, Stephen Myler, Alex Waller, Mike Haywood and Phil Dowson all come into the team after missing last week's trip to London Irish.

Calum Clark, who was a replacement at the Madejski Stadium, wears the number six shirt.

Dylan Hartley and Tom Wood both miss tomorrow's game after picking up knocks in the clash with the All Blacks.

Also unavailable are Alex Corbisiero (knee), James Craig (shoulder), George Pisi (suspended), Kahn Fotualii, Ken Pisi (both on international duty with Samoa), Samu Manoa (with the USA), Vasily Artemyev (with Russia) and George North (with Wales).

Meanwhile, Newcastle welcome back scrum-half Mike Blair to the starting line-up.

The experienced Scotland international, partners Phil Godman at half-back and is one of five changes to the side that travelled to Gloucester in the LV= Cup last weekend.

Godman replaces Rory Clegg at fly-half while in the front-row hooker Scott Lawson and tighthead Oliver Tomaszczyk get the nod alongside Rob Vickers. Second-row Fraser McKenzie steps up to the mark in place of Dom Barrow.

"Northampton Saints is a tough proposition for the boys, but this is what we are back in the Aviva Premiership for to play in the big games like these," said Falcons director of rugby Dean Richards.

"We are all looking forward to the challenge of playing in front of a packed Franklin's Gardens, and it's a great opportunity for the lads.

"We will have to be right on our game to get a result down there and hopefully we can build on our solid start to the season.

"We've made a decent start to the campaign and three wins and a losing bonus point isn't a bad return in the Premiership, but there is much room for improvement."

Form: Northampton Saints have won their last five matches in all competitions since their 13-19 reversal at Castres in the European Cup on 12th October. The Saints have been defeated only once at Franklin's Gardens in any tournament since February: 8-36 by Leicester in Aviva Premiership Rugby on 30th March. Newcastle Falcons have won two of their last three games in the Premiership but were defeated 3-40 at Saracens last time out in the competition. The Falcons most recent away victory was 13-12 in Bucharest in the European Challenge Cup on 12th October. Northampton have won their last six encounters with Newcastle since the Falcons 19-13 at Franklin's Gardens in the Premiership on 28th February 2009.

The teams:

Northampton Saints: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Jamie Elliott, 13 James Wilson, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 Tom Collins, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 Sam Dickinson, 7 Phil Dowson, 6 Calum Clark, 5 Christian Day, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Salesi Ma'afu, 2 Mikey Haywood, 1 Alex Waller,
Replacements: 16 Ross McMillan, 17 Ethan Waller, 18 Tom Mercey, 19 GJ van Velze, 20 Ben Nutley, 21 Alex Day, 22 Glenn Dickson, 23 Dom Waldouck.

Newcastle Falcons: 15 Alex Tait, 14 Noah Cato, 13 Danny Barnes, 12 Adam Powell, 11 Ryan Shortland, 10 Phil Godman, 9 Mike Blair, 8 Ally Hogg (c), 7 Will Welch, 6 Richard Mayhew, 5 Fraser McKenzie, 4 Carlo del Fava, 3 Oliver Tomaszczyk, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Rob Vickers.
Replacements: 16 George McGuigan, 17 Grant Shiells, 18 Scott Wilson, 19 Scott MacLeod, 20 Chris York, 21 Warren Fury, 22 Rory Clegg, 23 James Fitzpatrick

Date: Saturday, November 23
Kick-off: 15:15 GMT
Venue: Franklin's Gardens
Referee: Dean Richards
Assistant referees: Kevin Stewart, Ashley Rowden
Timekeeper: Brian Abrahams
Television match official: Rowan Kitt
Assessor: Gary Welsh

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