Tommy Freeman, Alex Coles and Sam Matavesi are all set to start Northampton Saints’ clash against Gloucester Rugby this weekend following the conclusion of the Autumn Nations Series.
The men in Black, Green and Gold travel to Kingsholm on Saturday afternoon to face the Cherry and Whites in the Gallagher Premiership (kick-off: 5.30pm, Live on BT Sport).
The hosts will be looking to arrest a run of three straight defeats in the league, with Saints winning two of their last three, but Kingsholm has not been a happy hunting ground in recent years for Northampton who have won just once in their last six visits to Gloucester in all competitions.
Director of Rugby Phil Dowson makes seven changes in total to this starting line-up from the side that beat the Barbarians on home soil last weekend.
Lewis Ludlam leads out Northampton having made his return from injury last week, and the England flanker is joined in the back row by Coles – capped three times by the Red Rose last month – and No.8 Juarno Augustus, who leads Premiership in metres made in contact (157) so far this season.
Lukhan Salakaia-Loto and Alex Moon start together in the engine room for Saints for the fourth consecutive league match, while up front, Alex Waller moves into solo-ninth position on the Premiership’s all-time list of appearances in his 246th match in the competition.
The loosehead prop will pack down in an experienced front row alongside Fiji hooker Matavesi – back in Black, Green and Gold from international duty – and tighthead prop Paul Hill.
Amongst four changes across the back line, James Ramm makes his first Premiership start on the wing, with England internationals George Furbank and Freeman returning at fullback and wing respectively to complete the back three.
Rory Hutchinson and Fraser Dingwall – who has crossed the gainline more times (56) than any other back in the league so far this season – are preferred in the centres, while Saints’ half-back duo of Fin Smith and Alex Mitchell start together for the third time.
Amongst the replacements, there is a return to the Northampton squad for newly-capped David Ribbans – with the likes of Angus Scott-Young, Sam Graham, Tom James, and Matt Proctor also on the bench as Dowson opts for a 6-2 split.
GLOUCESTER RUGBY vs NORTHAMPTON SAINTS
Gallagher Premiership Rugby, Round 12
Saturday 3 December 2022
15 George Furbank
14 James Ramm
13 Fraser Dingwall
12 Rory Hutchinson
11 Tommy Freeman
10 Fin Smith
9 Alex Mitchell
1 Alex Waller
2 Sam Matavesi
3 Paul Hill
4 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto
5 Alex Moon
6 Alex Coles
7 Lewis Ludlam (c)
8 Juarno Augustus
16 Robbie Smith
17 Emmanuel Iyogun
18 Alfie Petch
19 David Ribbans
20 Angus Scott-Young
21 Sam Graham
22 Tom James
23 Matt Proctor