Saturday 8th January – Leicester Tigers v Northampton Saints (Welford Road, 5pm)
TV: Live on Sky Sports
Referee: Dave Pearson (150th Premiership game)
Leicester Tigers hit the top of the Aviva Premiership Rugby table following their victory at Exeter on Sunday, a spot previously held by the Saints since round eight. The Tigers have lost only one of their last seven matches in all competitions.
Northampton Saints slipped up at home to Harlequins on New Year’s Day but have not lost successive encounters since April. The Saints are unbeaten in their last five away games in all competitions.
The last six clashes between the two great East Midlands adversaries have all been won by the home side on the day, including the 27-19 Saints victory at Franklin’s Gardens in round one. Northampton are going for a first season’s league double over the Tigers since 2003/04.
Dave Pearson becomes just the second referee after Chris White to take charge of 150 Premiership matches.
Leicester Tigers make four changes to the team for the Aviva Premiership Rugby clash with Northampton Saints.
Welford Road is a 24,000 sell-out for the East Midlands derby, which pitches top-of-the-table Tigers against second-placed Saints.
Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill said: “They are always keenly-fought games, the local rivalry is there and also the two teams are up at the top of the table.
“Saints are a good side, they’ve been in good form across the season, they’ve been the best side in the Premiership without a doubt. They lost at home last week and that will not have gone down well there. They are a good team and will punish you if you are not at the top of your game.
For the Northampton team click here
“We have come through the autumn international and Christmas periods pretty well and we pride ourselves on our consistency.
“It will be an interesting battle.”
Tigers make three changes to the pack where Martin Castrogiovanni is named in the front row, George Skivington is selected at lock and Thomas Waldrom returns to the back row. The only change in the backs sees fly-half Toby Flood make his first start since the Heineken Cup fixture away to Perpignan in December.
They replace Dan Cole, Ed Slater, Steve Mafi and Jeremy Staunton respectively, who take their place among the replacements.
Leicester Tigers (vs Northampton Saints, Welford Road, Saturday, January 8, 5pm)
15 Geordan Murphy (c)
14 Matt Smith
13 Manu Tuilagi
12 Anthony Allen
11 Alesana Tuilagi
10 Toby Flood
9 Ben Youngs
1 Marcos Ayerza
2 George Chuter
3 Martin Castrogiovanni
4 Louis Deacon
5 George Skivington
6 Thomas Waldrom
7 Craig Newby
8 Jordan Crane
16 Rob Hawkins
17 Dan Cole
18 Julian White
19 Ed Slater
20 Steve Mafi
21 James Grindal
22 Jeremy Staunton
23 Horacio Agulla