Saints name side for Anglo-Welsh showdown with Sale
Eight fresh faces will come into Northampton Saints’ starting line-up for their crucial Anglo-Welsh Cup clash at Sale Sharks.
The Franklin’s Gardens outfit can put one foot in the knockout stages of the competition with victory at the AJ Bell Stadium, heading into the fixture top of Pool 3 with Saracens, Worcester Warriors and Scarlets all trailing them.
Saints were edged out 18-15 on their last visit to Sale back in November, but Northampton have beaten the Sharks in three of their last four meetings.
Technical coaching consultant Alan Gaffney and interim head coach Alan Dickens have made three changes to the Saints’ backline from last weekend, with Ahsee Tuala named at full-back and Nafi Tuitavake moving into the centres from the wing.
British & Irish Lion George North takes his place and veteran No.10 Stephen Myler brings even more experience to the side, starting his first game since mid-November.
Cobus Reinach, who impressed in defeat at Saracens last time out, remains at scrum-half while Tom Stephenson’s run in the side continues at inside centre.
Francois van Wyk and hooker Reece Marshall are promoted from the bench to join Kieran Brookes in the front row, and in the engine room skipper Christian Day will lead the side out alongside Api Ratuniyarawa, who was rested last week.
And while Lewis Ludlam and Ben Nutley make up a new-look back row with David Ribbans, there’s room on the bench for Tom Wood as well as Academy starlets Alex Mitchell and James Grayson.
Wing Tom Collins also makes the 23 after two months out of action with a foot problem; his last appearance in the Black, Green and Gold came back in November against Worcester Warriors.
“We’ve got a great chance in this competition,” said Dickens. “We made some changes last week coming off the back of a few very physical games, and now some of those players have had a week off and come back in fresh and ready to go.
“When you’re finished playing rugby, you always look back and talk about what you won on the pitch. Any competition you’re in, you want to win, and the Anglo-Welsh Cup is no different.”
Tickets are now available for Saints’ Anglo-Welsh Cup clash with Harlequins from the ticket office at Franklin’s Gardens, online by visiting bit.ly/SAI-QUI-AWC or by calling the Saints Ticket Office on 01604 581000.
SALE SHARKS V SAINTS TEAM NEWS
Anglo-Welsh Cup, Round 3
AJ Bell Stadium
Saturday 27 January, 2018
15 Ahsee Tuala
14 Ken Pisi
13 Nafi Tuitavake
12 Tom Stephenson
11 George North
10 Stephen Myler
9 Cobus Reinach
1 Francois van Wyk
2 Reece Marshall
3 Kieran Brookes
4 Api Ratuniyarawa
5 Christian Day (capt)
6 David Ribbans
7 Lewis Ludlam
8 Ben Nutley
16 Charlie Clare
17 Campese Ma’afu
18 Jamal Ford-Robinson
19 Michael Paterson
20 Tom Wood
21 Alex Mitchell
22 James Grayson
23 Tom Collins
Alex Waller, Jamie Elliott, Piers Francis, Luther Burrell, Mitch Eadie and James Craig are unavailable for selection.