Northampton Saints have named their team to face Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park in the Anglo Welsh LV Cup where a place in the Semi-finals in on the line.
The Saints top Pool 4 going into the final round of LV= Cup round-robin matches, with qualification for the semi-finals still in their own hands.
Jim Mallinder: "We had to be at our very best in the Premiership there at the start of January and will need a similar performance again this weekend. We're certainly not taking anything for granted"
But Mallinder warned that it was going to take a top performance from the Saints to keep the momentum going.
"We've worked hard to get into this position, and we know that our future in the competition is in our own hands," he commented.
"But we also know that we will be up against a tough Exeter team.
"Exeter play an expansive style of rugby and like to get their wide runners into play as much as possible. But they also have some strong forwards who can get them onto the front foot, and we will have to be alert in every area of the field.
"We had to be at our very best in the Premiership there at the start of January and will need a similar performance again this weekend. We're certainly not taking anything for granted."
Exeter Chiefs realistically need a bonus point win to give themselves any hope of reaching the Anglo Welsh LV= Cup semi-finals for the first time and even that will be academic should Harlequins gain two points from their game on Sunday.
The Chiefs have lost their last four games in all competitions and are also winless in their last three encounters at Sandy Park.
Northampton Saints currently top pool 4 of the Anglo Welsh LV= Cup and a bonus point win would guarantee a place in this year’s last four, maybe less if other results go their way.
The 2011/12 Anglo Welsh LV= Cup finalists have won just one of their last three away matches in all tournaments.
The two sides have met just once before in any cup competition: the final of the 20007/08 National Trophy at Twickenham, where the Saints took the spoils 24-13.
The Chiefs have beaten Northampton just once in any competitive match: 30-9 at Sandy Park in the Premiership on 16 March 2011.
Exeter Chiefs coach Ricky Pellow has been forced to change their starting line-up as Henry Slade, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Joel Conlon, Sam Hill and Jack Arnott are all involved with the England Under-20s in their opening Six Nations clash with Scotland at Plymouth’s Brickfields ground.
Their absence means others are brought into the side with Jack Yeandle, Alex Brown (pictured), James Hanks and Aly Muldowney handed starts in the pack, whilst behind Ignacio Mieres, Ian Whitten and Mark Foster are also included from the outset.
There is also a welcome return to fitness on the bench for experienced scrum-half Haydn Thomas, who has not featured since picking up a head injury in the Premiership game with the Saints a month ago.
Match : Exeter Chiefs (Pool 1) v Northampton Saints (Pool 4)
Date : Saturday 2nd Feb
Venue : Sandy Park
Kick Off : 6.30pm
Live on: N/A
Referee: J P Doyle (RFU) 5th competition game
Assistant Referees: Luke Pearce, Peter Huckle.
15 Jack Nowell , 14 Watisoni Votu , 13 Ian Whitten , 12 Josh Tatupu , 11 Mark Foster , 10 Ignacio Mieres , 9 Will Chudley , 1 Carl Rimmer , 2 Jack Yeandle , 3 Alex Brown , 4 Damian Welch , 5 James Hanks , 6 Aly Muldowney , 7 Ben White , 8 Kai Horstmann (capt)
Replacements : 16 Tow Cowan-Dickie , 17 Chris Budgen , 18 Lloyd Fairbrother , 19 Will Carrick-Smith , 20 Sam Simmonds , 21 Haydn Thomas , 22 Myles Dorrian , 23 Nic Sestaret
15 Ben Foden, 14 James Wilson, 13 Dom Waldouck, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 Jamie Elliott, 10 Ryan Lamb, 9 Martin Roberts, 8 GJ van Velze, 7 Ben Nutley, 6 James Craig, 5 Christian Day, 4 Mark Sorenson, 3 Tom Mercey, 2 Mike Haywood, 1 Alex Waller.
Replacements: 16 Ross Mcmillan, 17 Soane Tonga'uiha, 18 Ethan Waller, 19 Samu Manoa, 20 Phil Dowson, 21 Lee Dickson, 22 Stephen Myler, 23 Tom May.