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Preview: Northampton v Saracens

25th October 2013 12:01

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Northampton v Saracens action 2012

Top of the table clash: Saints v Sarries

Saracens boss Mark McCall has made several changes to his starting XV for Saturday's clash with Northampton at Franklin's Gardens.

Loosehead prop Richard Barrington is set to make his full debut in the front row, with Mako Vunipola away on international duty and Rhys Gill ruled out until the New Year with a shoulder injury.

Kelly Brown comes in for Billy Vunipola to wear the six jersey, alongside Ernst Joubert and Jacques Burger in the back-row.

In the backs, Nils Mordt starts his first game of the season at fly-half, partnering Richard Wigglesworth in the halves. Duncan Taylor and Chris Wyles continue in the centres with Fijian international Michael Tagicakibau replacing Chris Ashton on the wing.

Nick Auterac, Mouritz Botha, Jackson Wray and Ben Ransom come into the match day squad as replacements, whilst Argentine international Marcelo Bosch could make his Premiership debut for the club off the bench.

Meanwhile, Phil Dowson will wear the captain's armband when he leads Northampton in this battle of the Premiership table's top two sides.

The team shows five changes from that which beat the Ospreys last weekend, with Kahn Fotuali'i making his first start on home soil and Mike Haywood, Ken Pisi, Calum Clark and Sam Dickinson all coming into the starting line-up.

Meanwhile flanker Ben Nutley, scrum-half Ryan Glynn and centre Dom Waldouck could all see their first senior action of the Aviva Premiership campaign after having been named on the bench.

Form: Northampton Saints have won their last four games at Franklin's Gardens in all competitions since Leicester Tigers won there in March. The Saints have lost just one Aviva Premiership Rugby game this season: 24-26 at Gloucester in Round 3. Saracens' nail biting 16-17 loss to Toulouse at Wembley on Saturday was their first defeat since last season's Premiership semi-final, against Northampton. Sarries have lost only once away from home in the Premiership since early February: 23-28 at Gloucester in April. The Saints' victory at Allianz Park in May ended a three game losing run to Saracens, including a 16-6 victory on their most recent visit to Franklin's Gardens a day short of 12 months ago.

The teams:

Northampton Saints: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 George Pisi, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 Jamie Elliott, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Kahn Fotuali'i, 8 Sam Dickinson, 7 Phil Dowson (c), 6 Calum Clark, 5 Christian Day, 4 Samu Manoa, 3 Salesi Ma'afu, 2 Mike Haywood, 1 Alex Waller.
Replacements: 16 Ross McMillan, 17 Ethan Waller, 18 Gareth Denman, 19 GJ van Velze, 20 Ben Nutley, 21 Ryan Glynn, 22 Dom Waldouck, 23 James Wilson.

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Michael Tagicakibau, 13 Chris Wyles, 12 Duncan Taylor, 11 David Strettle; 10 Nils Mordt, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Ernst Joubert, 7 Jacques Burger, 6 Kelly Brown, 5 Alastair Hargreaves, 4 Steve Borthwick (c), 3 Matt Stevens, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Richard Barrington.
Replacements:16 Jamie George, 17 Nick Auterac, 18 James Johnston, 19 Mourtiz Botha, 20 Jackson Wray, 21 Neil de Kock, 22 Marcelo Bosch, 23 Ben Ransom

Date: Saturday, October 26
Venue: Franklin's Gardens
Kick-off: 15:15 (14:15 GMT)
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth
Assistant referees: Gareth Copsey, Nigel Carrick
TMO: David Grashoff

Forthcoming Fixtures
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European Rugby Champions Cup
Friday , October 24
Munster vs Saracens19:45
Saturday , October 25
Ulster vs Toulon13:00
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Bath vs Toulouse15:15
Montpellier vs Glasgow17:15
Northampton vs Ospreys17:15
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Clermont Auvergne vs Sale13:00
Castres vs Leinster15:15
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Benetton Treviso vs Racing Metro 9217:15
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London Welsh vs Bordeaux-Begles19:45
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La Rochelle vs Bayonne18:30
Grenoble vs London Irish18:30
Newport Gwent D'gons vs Newcastle19:30
Brive vs Zebre19:30
Edinburgh vs LOU Rugby19:45
Saturday , October 25
Bucuresti vs Stade FrancaisTBC
Rovigo vs Cardiff Blues14:00
Exeter vs Connacht15:00
Oyonnax vs Gloucester19:45
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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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London Irish 70 - 14 RovigoLondon Irish vs Rovigo Report
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Saturday , October 18
Australia 28 - 29 New ZealandAustralia vs New Zealand Report
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Sale Sharks 26 - 27 MunsterSale Sharks vs Munster Report
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Racing Metro 92 20 - 11 NorthamptonRacing Metro 92 vs Northampton Report
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Leicester 25 - 18 UlsterLeicester vs Ulster Report
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Connacht 48 - 12 La Rochelle
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Lions 50 - 20 SharksLions vs Sharks Report
Western Province 31 - 23 Blue BullsWestern Province vs Blue Bulls Report
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Taranaki 49 - 30 AucklandTaranaki vs Auckland Report
Manawatu 23 - 18 Southland
Tasman 26 - 6 CanterburyTasman vs Canterbury Report
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Friday , October 17
Harlequins 25 - 9 CastresHarlequins vs Castres Report
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Bordeaux-Begles 13 - 15 EdinburghBordeaux-Begles vs Edinburgh Report
Newcastle 43 - 19 Bucuresti
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Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Northampton625
2Saracens622
3Exeter620
4Bath620
5Wasps615