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Heineken Cup Pool 1: Leinster v Northampton match preview

Last updated: 14th December 2013  

salesi maafu northampton saints

Salesi Ma'afu: Returns to the Northampton starting XV

Northampton v Leinster Brian O Driscoll

Brian O'Driscoll: Scored a try in last weekend's win at Franklin's Gardens

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Northampton will be aiming to banish the ghosts of last weekend's dismal defeat to Pool 1 leaders Leinster in the return fixture at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday evening.

The Pro12 giants bulldozed their way to a 40-7 victory at Franklin's Gardens which means the Aviva Premiership finalists must upset the odds to keep their slim hopes of advancing alive.

However, it may prove a difficult task though with Leinster having won 15 of their last 16 home games in the Heineken Cup, only Clermont upsetting the trend in Dublin last December.

Leinster coach Matt O'Connor has selected an unchanged line-up from the one that started last weekend's win with Jamie Heaslip leading an all-Ireland team.

Mike McCarthy continues his second row partnership with Devin Toner and last weekend's man of the match Brian O'Driscoll continues his centre partnership with Gordon D'Arcy.

O'Driscoll is is now just two tries behind Toulouse's Vincent Clerc's tally of 35 on the all-time European top try-scorers list and will have an eye on that record at the Aviva Stadium.

Hat-trick hero Luke Fitzgerald continues in the back three alongside Dundalk duo Dave and Rob Kearney while Eoin Reddan partners Ian Madigan, who makes his 90th Leinster appearance, at half back.

Three changes

Meanwhile, the Saints have made a total of three changes from that which started last Saturday.

Salesi Ma'afu, Christian Day and Calum Clark all return to the starting XV for the clash with the three-time Heineken Cup champions.

Ma'afu has recovered from the foot injury which kept him out of last weekend's game, while Day and Clark come in for Sam Dickinson and Phil Dowson, who drop to the bench.

They will be joined by Kahn Fotuali'i, who comes into the match day squad in place of Ryan Glynn.

"We're going to have to have a rocket up our backsides, go the extra mile, play with an extra bit of heart, and try and really get into them," said England flanker Tom Wood.

"We've got no option than to regroup, have a hard look at ourselves and come out and show a bit of pride. Hopefully we'll pull off a really big win and a turnaround."

Leinster: 15 R Kearney, 14 D Kearney, 13 O'Driscoll, 12 D'Arcy, 11 Fitzgerald, 10 Madigan, 9 Reddan; 1 McGrath, 2 Cronin, 3 Ross, 4 Toner, 5 McCarthy, 6 Ruddock, 7 O'Brien, 8 Heaslip (c).

Replacements: 16 Dundon, 17 Bent, 18 Moore, 19 Cullen, 20 Jennings, 21 Cooney, 22 Gopperth, 23 Kirchner.

Northampton Saints: 15 Pisi, 14 Elliott, 13 Waldouck, 12 Burrell, 11 North, 10 Myler, 9 Diickson; 1 Waller, 2 Hartley (c), 3 Ma'afu, 4 Lawes, 5 Day, 6 Clark, 7 Wood, 8 Manoa.

Replacements: 16 Haywood, 17 Waller, 18 Mercey, 19 Dickinson, 20 Dowson, 21 Fotuali'i, 22 Dickson, 23 Collins.

Watch Leinster v Northampton live on Sky Sports 2 from 6pm on Saturday

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