Northampton Saints v Saracens - Aviva Premiership match preview
Last Updated: 26/10/12 1:58pm
Northampton supremo Jim Mallinder has made three changes to his starting line-up for Saturday's Premiership clash with Saracens at Franklin's Gardens.
All three switches come in the pack with Paul Doran Jones preferred to Brian Mujati at tighthead prop, Mark Sorenson replacing Samu Manoa in the second row and GJ Van Velze coming in for Rhys Oakley at number eight.
With just two points separating the sides in the table, Mallinder insists his side must be right on their game if they are to pick what could be crucial points come the end of the season.
Saracens head into the game in good spirits following their 30-13 win over Racing Metro in Brussels last weekend.
England new-boy Mako Vunipola starts in the front row, while Owen Farrell, Brad Barritt, Chris Ashton and Alex Goode are also in the starting line-up with Mouritz Botha named on the bench.
Winger David Strettle also returns to the run-on side as does Joel Tomkins with Alistair Hargreaves given the nod alongside captain Steve Borthwick in the second row.
With Rhys Gill sidelined, academy prop Nick Auterac is named on the bench with Ernst Joubert also returning to the matchday 23 after missing the Heineken Cup wins over Edinburgh and Racing through injury.
Northampton: 15 Stephen Myler, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 George Pisi, 12 Dom Waldouck, 11 Vasily Artemyev, 10 Ryan Lamb, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 GJ Van Velze, 7 Tom Wood, 6 Phil Dowson, 5 Mark Sorenson, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Paul Doran Jones, 2 Dylan Hartley (c), 1 Soane Tonga'uiha.
Replacements: 16 Mike Haywood, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Brian Mujati, 19 Samu Manoa, 20 Rhys Oakley, 21 Martin Roberts, 22 Tom May, 23 Luther Burrell.
Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Joel Tomkins, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 David Strettle, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Neil de Kock, 8 Jackson Wray, 7 Will Fraser, 6 Kelly Brown, 5 Alistair Hargreaves, 4 Steve Borthwick (c), 3 Matt Stevens, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Mako Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 John Smit, 17 Nick Auterac, 18 Carlos Nieto, 19 Mouritz Botha, 20 Ernst Joubert, 21 Richard Wigglesworth, 22 Charlie Hodgson, 23 Chris Wyles.
What they said...
Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder
"Saracens are on a bit of a roll and have shown in recent weeks that they have the ability to win in different ways.
"Last week (against Castres) we were guilty of not making the most of our opportunities when they came along. We have had plenty to work on in training this week and every player has been focused on making sure that we get things right tomorrow."
"Saracens are on a bit of a roll and have shown in recent weeks that they have the ability to win in different ways."
Sat 16th May
Bath50 - 30Gloucester
Exeter44 - 16Sale Sharks
Leicester Tigers22 - 14Northampton
London Irish40 - 40Wasps
London Welsh17 - 68Saracens
Newcastle Falcons37 - 21Harlequins
Sat 23rd May - Semi Final
Northampton0 - 0Saracens
Bath0 - 0Leicester Tigers