Northampton v London Irish - Aviva Premiership match preview

Last updated: 2nd March 2013  

Jon Fisher London Irish

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Courtney Lawes Northampton Heineken Cup

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Northampton welcome back England duo Dylan Hartley and Courtney Lawes for their Aviva Premiership clash with London Irish at Franklin's Gardens on Saturday.

Hartley and Lawes both started in England's RBS Six Nations victory over France last weekend but have been released back to the Saints to take part in club action.

Full-back Ben Foden and scrum-half Lee Dickson retain their places following the 25-23 victory over Bath after they were also given the green light from England.

That allows director of rugby Jim Mallinder to name an unchanged back-line as Northampton attempt to boost their hopes of a top-four place.

Hartley and Lawes come into the pack at hooker and lock respectively, while Samu Manoa shifts into the back row as Ben Nutley drops to the bench.

London Irish make just one change for the contest, with Jon Fisher coming in at No 8 to replace Chris Hala'ufia, who has been banned for two weeks.

The Exiles will be hoping to gain some much-needed momentum after securing a 30-19 victory over Wasps last time out.

Northampton: 15 B Foden, 14 J Wilson, 13 G Pisi, 12 T May, 11 J Elliott, 10 S Myler, 9 L Dickson, 8 GJ van Velze, 7 P Dowson, 6 S Manoa, 5 M Sorenson, 4 C Lawes, 3 T Mercey, 2 D Hartley (c), 1 S Tonga'uiha.

Replacements: 16 R McMillan, 17 A Waller, 18 B Mujati, 19 M Sorenson, 20 B Nutley, 21 M Roberts, 22 R Lamb, 23 D Waldouck.

London Irish: 15 T Homer, 14 T Ojo, 13 G Armitage, 12 S Geraghty, 11 M Yarde, 10 I Humphreys, 9 P Phibbs, 8 J Fisher, 7 O Treviranus, 6 M Garvey, 5 B Evans (c), 4 G Skivington, 3 H Aulika, 2 S Lawson, 1 M Lahiff.

Replacements: 16 D Paice, 17 J Yanuyanutawa, 18 L Halavatau, 19 K Low, 20 J Sinclair, 21 S Tagicakibau, 22 S Sa, 23 J Moates.

What they said...

London Irish director of rugby Brian Smith

"Northampton have got a few wins under their belt in recent weeks and are playing some good rugby.

"It is always a physical challenge against Northampton and I envisage tomorrow being no exception. The squad is looking forward to the challenge."

Northampton prop Alex Waller

"We've got a bit of momentum at the moment and hopefully we can get a win to keep that going. Back in September we weren't right mentally when we went to Reading and they punished us," he told SaintsTV.

"We know that we can't have a single minute off in the Aviva Premiership; every team's a good team and has the capability to beat you."

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