Director of rugby Chris Boyd has made four changes to Northampton Saints’ starting XV to take on Gloucester Rugby in Sunday’s Gallagher Premiership clash.
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The men in Black, Green and Gold welcome the third-placed Cherry & Whites (kick-off 3pm) to Franklin’s Gardens, with the race for the league’s play-off places hitting fever pitch with just five rounds of the season to go.Saints have been defeated just once in any tournament at Franklin’s Gardens since early December, and will be hoping to extend a run of home wins over Gloucester that stretches back to February 2013.Boyd makes three changes in the pack to the side that played ASM Clermont Auvergne last weekend in the European Challenge Cup, with Reece Marshall coming in at hooker to replace the injured James Fish.There’s another switch in the front row as Francois van Wyk starts at loosehead, but tighthead prop Paul Hill continues his run of starts.Courtney Lawes moves up into the engine room to join Alex Moon, with flanker Heinrich Brüssow also selected alongside Lewis Ludlam and skipper Teimana Harrison in the back row.Meanwhile Dan Biggar and Cobus Reinach will marshal Northampton’s back-line from the half-back berths, with Rory Hutchinson and Piers Francis – who scored his first Saints try when the sides met at Kingsholm in September – starting together in the midfield for the third straight week.The only change to the backs sees Ahsee Tuala come in on the wing, with Taqele Naiyaravoro and George Furbank rounding off the line-up.“When you look at the league as a whole there are a lot of teams in there that will be hunting five victories from their final matches,” said Boyd.“That obviously doesn’t work mathematically; there’s an awful lot to play for and it’s going to come right down to the wire.“Every game is vital and on any given day in the Premiership there’s not much between a top, a middle, or a bottom of the table side.”NORTHAMPTON SAINTS vs GLOUCESTER RUGBYGallagher Premiership Rugby, Round 18Sunday 7 April, 2019Franklin’s GardensKick-off: 3pm15 George Furbank14 Ahsee Tuala13 Rory Hutchinson12 Piers Francis11 Taqele Naiyaravoro10 Dan Biggar9 Cobus Reinach1 Francois Van Wyk2 Reece Marshall3 Paul Hill4 Alex Moon5 Courtney Lawes6 Lewis Ludlam7 Heinrich Brüssow8 Teimana Harrison (c)Replacements:16 Darren Dawidiuk17 Alex Waller18 Ben Franks19 Api Ratuniyarawa20 Jamie Gibson21 Alex Mitchell22 Luther Burrell23 Ken PisiNot available for selection:Andy Symons (knee), Harry Mallinder (knee), Mikey Haywood (knee), Dylan Hartley (knee), Ehren Painter (calf), Paddy Ryan (knee), James Haskell (toe), Fraser Dingwall (ankle), David Ribbans (ankle), and James Fish (concussion)
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