Planet Rugby

Preview - Northampton v Sale Sharks

16th March 2007 12:11

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Head coach Paul Grayson has made four changes to the Northampton Saints' backline for Saturday's Guinness Premiership clash with Sale Sharks.

Stephen Myler and Vaughan Going both return to the side at fly-half and full-back respectively, with Carlos Spencer moving to outside centre and Bruce Reihana to the wing. The two players who miss out are Seamus Mallon - who is on the bench - and Matthieu Bourret.

"Stephen's got a lot of abilities, especially temperament," said Grayson.

"With Spencer in the centre it gives us width and distribution out wide and was something that we'd looked at doing earlier in the season. It also gives us flexibility on the bench.

"Every game from here on in we must win or get something out of. Against Leicester and Gloucester and in the second half against Bath we showed that there is character and togetherness in the squad."

"Sale are last season's champions, let's not forget about that. They'll come here with high hopes. We know it's going to be difficult but we've got to concentrate on ourselves and see if we can play some rugby.

Going comes up against his former club tomorrow and is looking forward to the experience.

"I'm glad to be in the side, and to say that I'm up for the game is an understatement," he said.

"The weather's looking good and the track's firming up which suits my kind of running game. With Ben on one wing and Bruce on the other I'm in a back three combination which could be very exciting."

The only change in the pack is the introduction of Ben Lewitt onto the openside flank for his first start of the season. He replaces Darren Fox, who drops to the bench.

Meanwhile, Sale Sharks welcome back Sebastien Chabal from international duty for the clash.

"This is a massive game for both teams. Northampton, like us, have not been winning of late but they beat Leicester Tigers at Welford Road last month and any team that does that deserves total respect," said Sharks Head Coach Kingsley Jones.

"Our players were unhappy with their performance last Friday against Worcester and are ready to give it their best shot tomorrow.

"The 22 players tomorrow are also aware that next week Mark Cueto, Jason Robinson, Stuart Turner, Magnus Lund, Sebastien Bruno and hopefully Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe and Mark Taylor will be available again so competition for places is going to be intense."

Northampton Saints: 15 Vaughan Going, 14 Bruce Reihana (c), 13 Carlos Spencer, 12 Robbie Kydd, 11 Ben Cohen, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Mark Robinson, 8 Christian Labit, 7 Ben Lewitt, 6 Paul Tupai, 5 Christian Short, 4 Damien Browne, 3 John Brooks, 2 Dylan Hartley, 1 Tom Smith.

Replacements: 16 Matias Cortese, 17 Soane Tonga'uhia, 18 Matt Lord, 19 Darren Fox, 20 Mark Hopley, 21 Johnny Howard, 22 Seamus Mallon.

Sale Sharks: 15 Julien Laharrague, 14 Chris Mayor, 13 Elvis Seveali'I, 12 Chris Bell, 11 Oriol Ripol, 10 Daniel Larrechea, 9 Ben Foden, 1 Andrew Sheridan, 2 Andy Titterrell, 3 Ben Evans, 4 Chris Jones, 5 Dean Schofield, 6 Juan Manuel Fernandez Lobbe, 7 Michael Hills, 8 Sebastien Chabal

Replacements: 16 Neil Briggs, 17 Eifion Roberts, 18 Barry Stewart, 19 Sean Cox/David Tait, 20 Lee Thomas, 21 Richard Wigglesworth, 22 Andy Vilk/Steve Hanley.

Date: Saturday, March 17

Venue: Franklin's Gardens

Kick-off: 15:00 GMT

Referee: Chris White

Touch judges: Robin Goodliffe, Ken Stewart

Coach: Clive Leeke

Television match official: David Hudson

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