Northampton Saints v Saracens Premiership Preview

Northampton Saints host Saracens at Franklins Gardens

Northampton Saints have named their team to play the current Aviva Premiership champions Saracens at a new-look Franklin’s Gardens on Saturday and have made four changes to the side that played Sale Sharks.

Dylan Hartley and Christian Day step up from the bench, with George North and James Craig making their first starts of the season on the wing and in the second row respectively.

Saturday’s game will be preceded by the annual Remembrance Ceremony and wreath laying, so all supporters are strongly urged to be in their seats by 3pm to avoid any unnecessary delays to the ceremony and subsequent kick off.

The new Barwell Stand has been accompanied by some significant changes to Franklin’s Gardens.

Northampton Saints only victory in their last five Aviva Premiership Rugby matches was 42-16 against Newcastle at Milton Keynes in round 2.

Saints have lost just one of their last twelve regular season Premiership Rugby matches at Franklin’s Gardens: 18-24 to Exeter on 14th November 2014.

Saracens have won their last six Aviva Premiership Rugby encounters since Exeter beat them at Allianz Park on 10th May. Sarries only defeat in their last five away games in the tournament was 20-25 to Northampton at stadiummk in April.

Saracens 29-24 victory over The Saints at Franklin’s Gardens in last season’s semi-final ended a three game winning run by the East Midlanders over the Londoners.

Saracens have won o their last two visits to the venue having also beaten Exeter Chiefs there in the Anglo-Welsh Cup final in March.

Meanwhile Schalk Brits has been named to make his150th Saracens appearance.

The Springbok hooker who was a member of South Africa’s Rugby World Cup squad is named alongside Mako Vunipola (loosehead prop) and Petrus Du Plessis (tighthead prop) in the Saracens front row.

Alistair Hargreaves captains the side and he is joined by George Kruis at lock. In the back row Maro Itoje will start at blindside flanker alongside Jacques Burger and Billy Vunipola.

Vunipola will be making his first appearance of the 2015/16 season after recovering from a knee injury sustained in England’s World Cup campaign.

Richard Wigglesworth and Owen Farrell link up in the halves whilst at centre Brad Barritt starts in the number 12 jersey alongside Duncan Taylor.

In the back three, USA skipper Chris Wyles comes into the side to start on the left wing and will link up with Chris Ashton (right wing) and Alex Goode (full-back).

On the bench, Argentine World Cup pair Juan Figallo and Marcelo Bosch are named as replacements, with the all-time Premiership record point’s scorer Charlie Hodgson also included in the matchday 23.

Director of rugby, Mark McCall,”Of course we are pleased to be undefeated after three matches, but we do judge ourselves on our performance levels. Against London Irish there were aspects which were okay, but there were aspects we could improve on. We have a pretty big game now against Saints, our squad is pretty healthy at the moment and we need to try and rotate in a sensible fashion.”

Captain, Alistair Hargreaves,”Saints’ track record speaks for itself. We are under no illusions that Saturday will be incredibly hard to go there and get points. Every time we take the field against them these games are always very physical, we know we’re in for a battle this weekend.”

Match : Northampton Saints v Saracens
Date : Saturday 7 November
Venue : Franklin’s Gardens,
Kick Off : 3.15pm
Live on: BT Sport
Match Officials
Referee : Luke Pearce (42nd Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Peter Allan & Andy Watson.
TMO: Trevor Fisher.

Teams

Northampton Saints

15 Ben Foden , 14 Jamie Elliot , 13 George Pisi , 12 Luther Burrell , 11 George North , 10 Stephen Myler , 9 Kahn Fotalui’i , 1 Alex Waller , 2 Dylan Hartley , 3 Kieran Brooker , 4 James Craig , 5 Christian Day , 6 Jamie Gibson , 7 Tom Wood (capt) , 8 Sam Dickinson

16 Mikey Haywood , 17 Ethan Waller , 18 Paul Hill , 19 Michael Paterson , 20 Teimana Harrison , 21 Lee Dickson , 22 JJ Hanrahan , 23 Ahsee Tuala

Saracens

15 Alex Goode , 14 Chris Ashton , 13 Duncan Taylor , 12 Brad Barritt , 11 Chris Wyles , 10 Owen Farrell , 9 Richard Wigglesworth , 8 Billy Vunipola , 7 Jacques Burger , 6 Maro Itoje , 5 Alistair Hargreaves (c) , 4 George Kruis , 3 Petrus Du Plessis, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Mako Vunipola

Replacements : 16 Jamie George , 17 Richard Barrington , 18 Juan Figallo , 19 Michael Rhodes , 20 Kelly Brown , 21 Ben Spencer , 22 Charlie Hodgson , 23 Marcelo Bosch

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