Preview: Northampton v Exeter

Date published: November 13 2014

Northampton Saints hosts Exeter at Franklin’s Gardens on Friday with the home side ringing the changes across the team.

Northampton Saints hosts Exeter at Franklin’s Gardens on Friday with the home side ringing the changes across the team.

In all 10 changes have been made from the line-up which began last weekend’s LV= Cup win over the Scarlets.

Ben Foden, Jamie Elliott, Luther Burrell, Stephen Myler and Lee Dickson all come into the back line, with Alex Waller, Mike Haywood, Salesi Ma’afu, Samu Manoa and Calum Clark starting up front.

The game will be preceded by the annual Remembrance Ceremony, which includes wreaths being laid on the Franklin’s Gardens war memorial and the Ode of Remembrance from Laurence Binyon’s poem ‘For the Fallen’.

Meanwhile, team news for the Chiefs from that which saw off rivals Bath a week ago sees Carl Rimmer and Ben White come into the pack for Ben Moon and Dave Ewers, whilst the sole change in the backline sees Phil Dollman return at full-back in place of Byron McGuigan.

Exeter Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter believes his side’s return to Aviva Premiership action this week will reveal plenty about how they could ultimately fare this season.

“This is the block of games that will show a lot about us as a team, our strength in depth and where we generally stand as we head towards Christmas,” said Baxter.

“We’ve played well but we also think we’ve lost a couple of Premiership games [Leicester and Newcastle] that were there for the winning.

“Obviously it’s a big game for ourselves and Northampton, given the positions we are both in the table. As I said, we’re excited how the season is going for us, but we’re also aware that there are a lot of big challenges that lie ahead.

“Looking at things right now, there is no bigger challenge than going to Northampton, the current champions, and looking to get a result against them. For us, it’s a nice test and kind of what we need right now.”

Form: Northampton Saints have lost only one of their last eight matches in all tournaments: 11-20 at Racing-Metro in the first round of the European Challenge Cup. The Saints have won their last nine fixtures at Franklin’s Gardens since Leicester beat them there in Aviva Premiership Rugby in March. Exeter Chiefs have won four of their last five outings in all tournaments, the loss coming in Bayonne in the European Challenge Cup. Exeter have not won away from home since they visited Gloucester in round 3 of Aviva Premiership Rugby. Exeter’s only victory in their eight previous Premiership Rugby matches with the Saints came at Sandy Park in March 2011. The Chiefs have never won in five previous visits to Franklin’s Gardens for a competitive match.

The teams:

Northampton: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Jamie Elliott, 13 Tom Stephenson, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 Tom Collins, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 Phil Dowson (c), 7 Ben Nutley, 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 Alex Woolford, 20 Teimana Harrison, 21 Joel Hodgson, 22 James Wilson, 23 Dom Waldouck.

Exeter: 15 Phil Dollman, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Sam Hill, 11 Matt Jess, 10 Gareth Steenson, 9 Will Chudley, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Don Armand, 6 Ben White, 5 Damian Welch, 4 Dean Mumm (c), 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Jack Yeandle, 1 Carl Rimmer.
Replacements: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie 17 Ben Moon 18 Moray Low 19 Ryan Caldwell 20 Kai Horstmann 21 Haydn Thomas 22 Ian Whitten, 23 Byron McGuigan

Date: Friday, November 14
Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
Venue: Franklin’s Gardens
Referee: Dean Richards
Assistant referees: Ross Campbell, Gordon Goodliffe
Television match official: Rowan Kitt