By Happywifehappylife October 13 2018
Piers Francis, Tom Collins, and James Haskell have all been included in Chris Boyd’s starting line-up to face ASM Clermont Auvergne on Saturday, while lock Dom Barrow will make his Northampton Saints debut in Saturday’s European Challenge Cup curtain-raiser.
The men in Black, Green and Gold will bid for their third Challenge Cup title, having won the competition in 2009 and 2014 – the only two other seasons in which they have been involved.
A big test awaits Boyd’s men first up however, with Saturday’s opponents Clermont currently sitting at the summit of the Top14 standings in France after seven rounds across the Channel.
Saints welcomed the French giants to Franklin’s Gardens last season in the Champions Cup, and will hope to repeat the impressive 34-21 triumph they achieved back in January on Saturday (kick-off 3pm).
Director of rugby Boyd is able to welcome inside centre Francis back into the No.12 jersey after the 28-year-old successfully completed his return to play protocols this week.
Francis joins Andrew Kellaway in midfield, and despite the half-back axis of Dan Biggar and Cobus Reinach remaining unchanged, there are more adjustments in the back three with Collins regaining a starting berth.
Boyd sticks with the same front row that took to the field against Leicester Tigers last weekend, but Barrow will make his Club debut in the engine room after signing from Saints’ east-midlands rivals over the summer.
Haskell returns at flanker for the first time since mid-September to add some ballast to the back row, and there is room amongst the replacements for Academy lock Alex Moon – who will make his European debut should he enter the fray from the bench at Franklin’s Gardens.
NORTHAMPTON SAINTS vs ASM CLERMONT AUVERGNE EPCR Challenge Cup, Round One Saturday 13th October, 2018 Franklin’s Gardens Kick-off: 3pm
15 Harry Mallinder 14 Ahsee Tuala 13 Andrew Kellaway 12 Piers Francis 11 Tom Collins 10 Dan Biggar 9 Cobus Reinach
1 Alex Waller (co-captain) 2 Dylan Hartley (co-captain) 3 Ehren Painter 4 David Ribbans 5 Dom Barrow 6 James Haskell 7 Lewis Ludlam 8 Teimana Harrison
Replacements: 16 Mike Haywood 17 Francois Van Wyk 18 Ben Franks 19 Alex Moon 20 Jamie Gibson 21 Alex Mitchell 22 James Grayson 23 Luther Burrell
Taken from t'Offy
Teams UP: EPCR Saints v Clermont
Posted by: Marching On (IP Logged)
Date: 13/10/2018 11:23
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Still severely hampered by injuries and Naiyaravoro out of the picture
15 Harry Mallinder
14 Ahsee Tuala
13 Andrew Kellaway
12 Piers Francis
11 Tom Collins
10 Dan Biggar
9 Cobus Reinach
1 Alex Waller (co-captain)
2 Dylan Hartley (co-captain)
3 Ehren Painter
4 David Ribbans
5 Dom Barrow
6 James Haskell
7 Lewis Ludlam
8 Teimana Harrison
16 Mike Haywood
17 Francois Van Wyk
18 Ben Franks
19 Alex Moon
20 Jamie Gibson
21 Alex Mitchell
22 James Grayson
23 Luther Burrell
Not available for selection:
Paul Hill (shoulder), Rory Hutchinson (knee), Toby Trinder (foot), Ken Pisi (shoulder), Heinrich BrŁssow (concussion), Nafi Tuitavake (neck), Andy Symons (knee), Jamal Ford-Robinson (knee), Api Ratuniyarawa (ankle), Tom Emery (ankle) and Courtney Lawes (back)
Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 2018:10:12:10:40:27 by tedge.
Very pleased to see Haskell and Barrow back in contention. Will add some much needed bite to the pack. Also pleased to see Craig not listed amongst the injuries, hopefully he can be back in contention soon.
A shame to see Eadie drop out of the picture IMO and also to see Waller to start again.
Save for one or two, the majority of the squad picks itself due to injuries.
They did say mid week they were preparing for a strong Clermont side. I do wonder thatís why we are not seeing Mitchell Grayson and Haywood in for starts yet. Perhaps that will change for Dragons.
good to see a bit more bulk up front, just hope Reinach's service is a bit quicker than last week as it seriously affected Dan's game, great to see Francis back
this would be a cracking game to win to set us on our way in Europe and put a bit more confidence in the whole squad
It could be considered weakened compared to the last few games in the Top 14 if you consider swapping Parra and Lopez for Laidlaw and Fernandez !! However, still a really strong side due to their strength in depth
Where is Taqele? Not playing and not listed as injured. Surprised that he is not on the bench at least - a better finisher and cover option than Luther I would have thought (especially as Harry can cover centre).
I don't have a clue about how player registration works, but given that Taquele didn't start playing for us for a few weeks could he be non registered for European matches? No doubt I'm wrong but like I said I don't know how the system works.
Clermont last season were a shadow of their form this season, check the Top14 table. Yes, the French sides are usually easier when they have to travel but most of that is because they tend to rotate away from home keeping their top team for home games. La Rochelle murdered them in the scrum in the 1st half last weekend but the likes of Slimani is in their starting XV for this game.
Without stability at tight head we will struggle,Aaron Painter will come good in time but Paul Hill canít return quick enough.
Franks may be a 2 times World Cup winner but age and physical ability is limiting his scrum game.
Boyd needs to stand up and take the reins, whilst we have the majority of last years coaches still in power what really is going to change?
With England calling our leadership will disappear so letís make changes now and let the players left to hold fast take over now.
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