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Northampton Saints v Gloucester - Aviva Premiership match preview
Northampton have named a much-changed line-up for their return to Aviva Premiership action against Gloucester on Saturday.
With the two sides battling it out for a place in the top four, Saints boss Jim Mallinder has opted to name a strong-looking line-up.
The Pisi brothers - Ken and George - return to the back division alongside Stephen Myler and Lee Dickson.
Phil Dowson takes over the captaincy, with Soane Tonga'uiha and Samu Manoa also included in the pack.
Gloucester will welcome back their England Saxons contingent for the trip to Franklin's Gardens.
Nick Wood and Jonny May both return after missing the past two weeks and are part of six changes made by Nigel Davies.
Darren Dawidiuk, Will James and Akapusi Qera will bolster the pack, while Dan Robson takes over at scrum-half.
Northampton: 15 James Wilson, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 George Pisi, 12 Dom Waldouck, 11 Jamie Elliott, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Lee Dickson, 1 Soane Tonga'uiha, 2 Mike Haywood, 3 Tom Mercey, 4 Samu Manoa, 5 Mark Sorenson, 6 Phil Dowson (capt), 7 Ben Nutley, 8 GJ Van Velze.
Replacements: 16 Ross McMillan, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Paul Doran Jones, 19 James Craig, 20 Rhys Oakley, 21 Martin Roberts, 22 Ryan Lamb, 23 Tom May
Gloucester: 15 Rob Cook, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Mike Tindall (capt), 12 Tim Molenaar, 11 Jonny May, 10 Ryan Mills, 9 Dan Robson, 1 Nick Wood, 2 Darren Dawidiuk, 3 Rupert Harden, 4 Lua Lokotui, 5 Will James, 6 Tom Savage, 7 Akapusi Qera, 8 Sione Kalamafoni.
Replacements: 16 Tommaso d'Apice, 17 Dan Murphy, 18 Yann Thomas, 19 Peter Buxton, 20 Matt Cox, 21 Jimmy Cowan, 22 Shane Monahan, 23 Martyn Thomas.
What they said...
Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder
"After four weeks of cup action we are looking forward to getting back to the Aviva Premiership. We're well placed in the league table and close to the top four, and with nine games left there is everything to play for. We need the players to be ready to perform from the first whistle, and it will be fantastic if the fans can create an inspiring atmosphere in the stands.
"Although we played Gloucester a fortnight ago this will be a different game. Both teams will have quite a few changes from that day, and there is always an edge when league points are up for grabs.
"It's going to be a tough contest and as with every week we're going to have to be at our best."
Gloucester director of rugby Nigel Davies
"It's been a complete refocus this week, and a re-organisation of what we've been looking at. And this has been planned. We'd have preferred to be going into this one off the back of two wins, but we're pretty clear about what we need to do.
"Over the past few weeks, we've played a bit more expansively than we have so far this season. The biggest problem we've got at the moment is discipline and that's fundamental to our game. We have to get that right."
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|Sunday 21st December|
|14:00||Wasps vs London Irish|
|Friday 26th December|
|15:00||London Irish vs London Welsh|
|Saturday 27th December|
|14:00||Bath vs Exeter|
|14:00||Sale vs Leicester|
|15:00||Newcastle vs Saracens|
|16:30||Harlequins vs Northampton|
|Sunday 28th December|
|14:30||Gloucester vs Wasps|
|Friday 2nd January|
|19:45||Northampton vs Newcastle Falcons|
|Saturday 3rd January|
|14:00||Saracens vs London Irish|
|16:30||Exeter vs Gloucester|
|Sunday 4th January|
|14:00||Wasps vs Sale|
|14:00||Leicester Tigers vs Bath|
|14:30||London Welsh vs Harlequins|
|Friday 9th January|
|19:45||Gloucester vs Saracens|
|Saturday 10th January|
|14:00||Sale vs Northampton|
|15:00||Bath vs Wasps|
|15:15||Harlequins vs Leicester Tigers|
|Sunday 11th January|
|14:00||Newcastle Falcons vs London Welsh|
|15:00||London Irish vs Exeter|
|Saturday 14th February|
|15:00||Leicester vs Gloucester|
|15:00||Northampton vs London Irish|
|15:00||Exeter vs Newcastle|
|Sunday 15th February|
|14:00||Wasps vs Harlequins|
|14:30||London Welsh vs Sale|
|15:00||Saracens vs Bath|
|Saturday 20th December|
|Gloucester 16 - 39 Bath|
|Northampton 23 - 19 Leicester Tigers|
|Saracens 78 - 7 London Welsh|
|Harlequins 15 - 7 Newcastle Falcons|
|Friday 19th December|
|Sale Sharks 18 - 11 Exeter|
|Sunday 30th November|
|Newcastle Falcons 13 - 18 Sale Sharks|
|London Welsh 14 - 43 Northampton|
|London Irish 9 - 21 Gloucester|
|Saturday 29th November|
|Exeter 27 - 19 Saracens|
|Leicester Tigers 18 - 16 Wasps|
|Friday 28th November|
|Bath 25 - 6 Harlequins|
|Sunday 23rd November|
|London Welsh 5 - 26 Leicester Tigers|
|Saracens 24 - 31 Northampton|
|Saturday 22nd November|
|London Irish 23 - 33 Bath|
|Exeter 31 - 15 Wasps|
|Friday 21st November|
|Newcastle Falcons 20 - 10 Gloucester|
|Harlequins 12 - 16 Sale Sharks|
|Sunday 16th November|
|Wasps 71 - 7 London Welsh|
|Leicester Tigers 21 - 21 Saracens|
|Saturday 15th November|
|Bath 23 - 14 Newcastle Falcons|
|Sale Sharks 36 - 8 London Irish|
|Friday 14th November|
|Gloucester 15 - 22 Harlequins|
|Northampton 18 - 24 Exeter|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com