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Northampton make 13 changes for semi-final, also name six/two bench

By Liam Heagney
Northampton players react after their last-day defeat at Bath (Photo by Bob Bradford/CameraSport via Getty Images)

Phil Dowson has recalled his Northampton big guns for Friday’s Gallagher Premiership semi-final at home to Saracens, making 13 changes to the starting line-up following their 12-43 May 18 hammering at Bath.

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The table-topping Saints sent an understrength side to The Rec knowing they already had a semi-final fixture guaranteed for Franklin’s Gardens.

A price was paid as they were heavily beaten and Burger Odendaal and Olie Sleightholme are the only two players to keep their starting places for the semi-final.

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A statement read: “Courtney Lawes will captain Northampton Saints in his final outing at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens in the Gallagher Premiership semi-final against Saracens this Friday (kick-off: 7.45pm).

“Saints feature in their third consecutive Premiership semi-final – and their 12th appearance at this stage of the competition in the club’s history – but play host in the knock-outs for the first time since 2015.

Fixture
Gallagher Premiership
Northampton
22 - 20
Full-time
Saracens
All Stats and Data

“Away losses to Leicester Tigers (2022) and Saracens (2023) were Northampton’s fate in their most recent semi-finals, but they now have their sights set on reaching the final for the first time since they lifted the trophy in 2014 as they welcome the current reigning champions to town.

“Alex Waller and Alex Moon will also be featuring in their final clash in Northampton amongst Saints’ starting XV, with Lewis Ludlam set to make his final home bow from the replacements. Hooker Curtis Langdon and tighthead prop Trevor Davison join Waller in the front row against Saracens.

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“Moon partners Alex Coles at lock, while Tom Pearson returns to Saints’ starting line-up to join captain Lawes and No8 Juarno Augustus in the back row.

“Alex Mitchell, who has assisted more tries than any other player in the Premiership this season (11), starts at scrum-half for Saints, while the league’s second-highest points-scorer, Fin Smith (132), is named at fly-half.

“Fraser Dingwall and Burger Odendaal partner at centre, while George Furbank starts at full-back for the 17th time this season for Northampton. Ollie Sleightholme (14), the league’s top try-scorer, and Tommy Freeman, who has made the joint-most clean breaks in the Premiership (26), are named on the wings to complete the starting line-up.

“Saints opt for a 6/2 bench for the semi-final clash, with Ludlam, Sam Matavesi, Emmanuel Iyogun, Elliot Millar Mills, Temo Mayanavanua, Sam Graham, Tom James and George Hendy all set to enter the action at the Gardens.”

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NORTHAMPTON (vs Saracens): 15. George Furbank, 14. Tommy Freeman, 13. Burger Odendaal, 12. Fraser Dingwall, 11. Ollie Sleightholme; 10. Fin Smith, 9. Alex Mitchell; 1. Alex Waller, 2. Curtis Langdon, 3. Trevor Davison, 4. Alex Moon, 5. Alex Coles, 6. Courtney Lawes (capt), 7. Tom Pearson, 8. Juarno Augustus. Reps: 16. Sam Matavesi, 17. Emmanuel Iyogun, 18. Elliot Millar-Mills, 19. Temo Mayanavanua, 20. Sam Graham, 21. Lewis Ludlam, 22. Tom James, 23. George Hendy.

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