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Preview: Northampton v Saracens

26th October 2012 10:36

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GJ van Velze Northampton v Exeter AVP 2012

GJ van Velze: Returns for Saints

Northampton boss Jim Mallinder has made three changes to his starting XV for Saturday's Premiership encounter with Saracens at Franklin's Gardens.

The changes are all in the forwards with GJ Van Velze replacing Rhys Oakley at number eight, Mark Sorenson coming in for Samu Manoa at lock and Paul Doran Jones taking over from Brian Mujati at tighthead prop.

Just two points separate the teams in the standings, and with every league point becoming increasingly vital as the domestic campaign enters its middle third the Saints boss says that nothing short of a focused, determined and accurate performance will do.

"Saracens are on a bit of a roll and have shown in recent weeks that they have the ability to win in different ways," explained Mallinder.

"The Aviva Premiership is very tight this season and every point will matter in the chase for the semi-finals.

"So we know that we will have to be on top form in every area of our game if we are to get the win that we want.

"Last week in Toulouse we were guilty of not making the most of our opportunities when they came along.

"We have had plenty to work on in training this week and every player has been focused on making sure that we get things right tomorrow."

Meanwhile, Saracens are on a high after their 30-13 win over Racing Metro in a historic Heineken Cup clash in Brussels last weekend.

New England call-up Mako Vunipola starts the game in the front row while Owen Farrell, Brad Barritt, Chris Ashton and Alex Goode are also in the starting line-up with Mouritz Botha named on the bench.

Wing David Strettle also returns to the run-on side as does Joel Tomkins with Alistair Hargreaves given the nod alongside captain Steve Borthwick in the second row.

With Rhys Gill ruled out with a rib injury, academy prop Nick Auterac is named on the bench with Ernst Joubert also returning to the matchday 23 after missing the Heineken Cup wins over Edinburgh and Racing through injury.

Form: Northampton Saints continue to top the Aviva Premiership table despite their 17-39 loss to 11th placed London Irish at Madejski Stadium in round six. The Saints have won their last five games in all competitions at Franklin's Gardens. Saracens' single defeat in any tournament this season remains to Exeter at Sandy Park on 23 September, whilst they have won their three away encounters since then. Northampton have beaten Saracens just once in their last seven Premiership fixtures: 30-8 in this equivalent game at Franklin's Gardens last November.

Rugby Union betting odds

The teams:

Northampton: 15 Stephen Myler, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 George Pisi, 12 Dom Waldouck, 11 Vasily Artemyev, 10 Ryan Lamb, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 GJ Van Velze, 7 Tom Wood, 6 Phil Dowson, 5 Mark Sorenson, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Paul Doran Jones, 2 Dylan Hartley (c), 1 Soane Tonga'uiha.
Replacements: 16 Mike Haywood, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Brian Mujati, 19 Samu Manoa, 20 Rhys Oakley, 21 Martin Roberts, 22 Tom May, 23 Luther Burrell.

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Joel Tomkins, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 David Strettle, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Neil de Kock, 8 Jackson Wray, 7 Will Fraser, 6 Kelly Brown, 5 Alistair Hargreaves, 4 Steve Borthwick (c), 3 Matt Stevens, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Mako Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 John Smit, 17 Nick Auterac, 18 Carlos Nieto, 19 Mouritz Botha, 20 Ernst Joubert, 21 Richard Wigglesworth, 22 Charlie Hodgson, 23 Chris Wyles.

Date: Saturday, October 27
Kick-off: 15:00 BST
Venue: Franklin's Gardens
Referee: Andrew Small
Assistant referees: Paul Burton, Alan Hughes
Television match official: David John Hudson
Timekeeper: Nigel Yates
Coach: Clive Leeke

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
European Rugby Champions Cup
Friday , October 24
Munster vs Saracens19:45
Saturday , October 25
Ulster vs Toulon13:00
Scarlets vs Leicester19:45
Bath vs Toulouse15:15
Montpellier vs Glasgow17:15
Northampton vs Ospreys17:15
Sunday , October 26
Clermont Auvergne vs Sale15:15
Castres vs Leinster13:00
Wasps vs Harlequins17:15
Benetton Treviso vs Racing Metro 9217:15
More European Rugby Champions Cup fixtures
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Thursday , October 23
London Welsh vs Bordeaux-Begles19:45
Friday , October 24
La Rochelle vs Bayonne18:30
Grenoble vs London Irish18:30
Brive vs Zebre18:30
Newport Gwent D'gons vs Newcastle19:30
Edinburgh vs LOU Rugby19:45
Saturday , October 25
Bucuresti vs Stade Francais14:00
Rovigo vs Cardiff Blues14:00
Exeter vs Connacht15:00
Oyonnax vs Gloucester19:45
More European Rugby Challenge Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sunday , October 19
Ospreys 42 - 7 Benetton TrevisoOspreys vs Benetton Treviso Report
Toulouse 30 - 23 MontpellierToulouse vs Montpellier Report
Toulon 28 - 18 ScarletsToulon vs Scarlets Report
Leinster 25 - 20 WaspsLeinster vs Wasps Report
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European Rugby Challenge Cup
London Irish 70 - 14 RovigoLondon Irish vs Rovigo Report
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International Match
Saturday , October 18
Australia 28 - 29 New ZealandAustralia vs New Zealand Report
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European Rugby Champions Cup
Sale Sharks 26 - 27 MunsterSale Sharks vs Munster Report
Saracens 30 - 23 Clermont AuvergneSaracens vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Racing Metro 92 20 - 11 NorthamptonRacing Metro 92 vs Northampton Report
Glasgow 37 - 10 BathGlasgow vs Bath Report
Leicester 25 - 18 UlsterLeicester vs Ulster Report
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European Rugby Challenge Cup
LOU Rugby 28 - 18 London WelshLOU Rugby vs London Welsh Report
Zebre 24 - 33 Oyonnax
Cardiff Blues 37 - 14 Grenoble
Stade Francais 22 - 38 Newport Gwent D'gons
Bayonne 30 - 24 Exeter
Connacht 48 - 12 La Rochelle
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Currie Cup
Lions 50 - 20 SharksLions vs Sharks Report
Western Province 31 - 23 Blue BullsWestern Province vs Blue Bulls Report
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ITM Cup
Taranaki 49 - 30 AucklandTaranaki vs Auckland Report
Manawatu 23 - 18 Southland
Tasman 26 - 6 CanterburyTasman vs Canterbury Report
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European Rugby Champions Cup
Friday , October 17
Harlequins 25 - 9 CastresHarlequins vs Castres Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Bordeaux-Begles 13 - 15 EdinburghBordeaux-Begles vs Edinburgh Report
Newcastle 43 - 19 Bucuresti
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Northampton625
2Saracens622
3Exeter620
4Bath620
5Wasps615