Aviva Premiership semi-final: Northamton Saints v Leicester Tigers preview
Last Updated: 16/05/14 7:02pm
Northampton welcome back George Pisi, Kahn Fotuali'i, Samu Manoa and Tom Wood to their starting line-up for Friday's Aviva Premiership semi-final against rivals Leicester.
The Saints quartet were on the bench for the record romp against Wasps in the final game of the regular season, however they return for the crucial clash at Franklin’s Gardens.
The Saints are also buoyed by the inclusion of Courtney Lawes in the second row, while Ross McMillan is added to the bench.
The fixture is a repeat of last season’s Premiership final, a match the Tigers went on and won after Northampton and England hooker Dylan Hartley was red carded.
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Leicester have reached a staggering nine successive finals – and they go into the clash against their East Midland foes boosted by the return of six internationals.
Having been rested for the round 22 victory over Saracens, Marcos Ayerza, Jordan Crane, Vereniki Goneva, Logovi’i Mulipola, Ben Youngs and Tom Youngs all come back into the visiting side.
Captain Ed Slater, Julian Salvi and Jamie Gibson after sitting out last also come into the pack, while Dan Bowden starts in the centre, with Toby Flood at fly-half.
Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill said: “We’ve come through 22 tough rounds of Aviva Premiership rugby, everyone has worked really hard, and we’ve shown a lot of resilience to get here. Now it comes down to 80 minutes on Friday for a place in the final.
“Saints have had a very good season, they’ve been on good form, but we’ve been in decent form too and we will do our best to go there and try to win. It’s a local derby and a semi-final, it should be a heck of a game.”
Northampton: 15 Foden, 14 K Pisi, 13 G Pisi, 12 Burrell, 11 North, 10 Myler, 9 Fotuali’i, 1 Waller, 2 Haywood, 3 Ma’afu, 4 Manoa, 5 Lawes, 6 Wood, 7 Dowson (c), 8 Dickinson.
Replacements: 16 McMillan, 17 Corbisiero, 18 Mercey, 19 Day, 20 Clark, 21 Dickson, 22 Wilson, 23 Stephenson.
Leicester: 15 Tait, 14 Morris, 13 Tuilagi, 12 Bowden, 11 Goneva, 10 Flood, 9 B Youngs, 1 Ayerza, 2 T Youngs, 3 Mulipola, 4 Deacon, 5 Slater (c), 6 Gibson, 7 Salvi, 8 Crane.
Replacements: 16 Briggs, 17 Bristow, 18 Balmain, 19 Kitchener, 20 Mafi, 21 Mele, 22 Williams, 23 Thompstone