Planet Rugby

Preview: Northampton v Saracens

26th October 2012 10:36

Share:

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
Aviva Premiership
Friday , September 5
Northampton vs Gloucester19:45
Saturday , September 6
Saracens vs Wasps14:00
Sale vs Bath14:00
Leicester vs Newcastle15:00
London Irish vs Harlequins16:30
Sunday , September 7
London Welsh vs Exeter14:00
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
Rugby Championship
Saturday , September 6
New Zealand vs Argentina08:35
Australia vs South Africa11:05
More Rugby Championship fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , September 5
Ospreys vs Benetton Treviso19:35
Munster vs Edinburgh19:35
Saturday , September 6
Scarlets vs Ulster14:40
Connacht vs Newport Gwent D'gons17:00
Glasgow vs Leinster17:15
Sunday , September 7
Zebre vs Cardiff Blues17:00
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Friday , September 5
Montpellier vs Castres20:45
Saturday , September 6
Brive vs Toulouse14:45
Clermont Auvergne vs Racing Metro Paris17:00
Lyon vs Oyonnax18:30
Stade Francais vs Bayonne18:30
Grenoble vs La Rochelle18:30
Toulon vs Bordeaux-Begles20:45
More Top 14 fixtures
Currie Cup
Friday , September 5
Western Province vs Eastern Province Kings19:10
Saturday , September 6
Cheetahs vs Pumas15:00
Sharks vs Griquas17:05
Blue Bulls vs Lions19:10
More Currie Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
ITM Cup
Sunday , August 31
Taranaki 41 - 3 Bay Of PlentyTaranaki vs Bay Of Plenty Report
Auckland 16 - 16 TasmanAuckland vs Tasman Report
More ITM Cup results
Top 14
Saturday , August 30
La Rochelle 37 - 25 ToulouseLa Rochelle vs Toulouse Report
Grenoble 37 - 23 Bordeaux-Begles
Oyonnax 33 - 6 Stade Francais
Castres 30 - 6 BayonneCastres vs Bayonne Report
Racing Metro Paris 17 - 10 ToulonRacing Metro Paris vs Toulon Report
Lyon 24 - 6 Brive
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Griquas 25 - 36 CheetahsGriquas vs Cheetahs Report
Eastern Province Kings 22 - 41 LionsEastern Province Kings vs Lions Report
Blue Bulls 18 - 23 Western ProvinceBlue Bulls vs Western Province Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Counties Manukau 21 - 27 Hawkes BayCounties Manukau vs Hawkes Bay Report
Southland 22 - 33 Otago
North Harbour 16 - 22 WaikatoNorth Harbour vs Waikato Report
More ITM Cup results
Top 14
Friday , August 29
Clermont Auvergne 20 - 21 MontpellierClermont Auvergne vs Montpellier Report
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Pumas 32 - 22 SharksPumas vs Sharks Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Wellington 21 - 27 ManawatuWellington vs Manawatu Report
Thursday , August 28
Canterbury 48 - 3 NorthlandCanterbury vs Northland Report
Wednesday, August 27
Waikato 17 - 46 TaranakiWaikato vs Taranaki Report
Sunday , August 24
Manawatu 7 - 35 AucklandManawatu vs Auckland Report
Bay Of Plenty 27 - 56 TasmanBay Of Plenty vs Tasman Report
More ITM Cup results
Rugby Championship
Saturday , August 23
New Zealand 51 - 20 AustraliaNew Zealand vs Australia Report
Argentina 31 - 33 South AfricaArgentina vs South Africa Report
More Rugby Championship results
Top 14
Brive 6 - 21 Clermont AuvergneBrive vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Bayonne 38 - 12 Oyonnax
More Top 14 results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Bath00
2Exeter00
3Gloucester00
4Harlequins00
5Leicester Tigers00