Northampton Director of Rugby Jim Mallinder is pushing his team to improve on last week’s performance, when they welcome Sale to Franklin’s Gardens on Saturday. The Saints came away with a bonus point win over Wasps last weekend, scoring five tries, but Mallinder believes his side will have to work even harder to overcome the Sharks.
Mallinder said:” Sale are capable of playing some good rugby. Their No 8, No 9 and No 10 are very strong which is always an important area, and they also have two quality wingers in Ben Cohen and Mark Cueto. They have threats all over the field, and we need to make sure we’re on our game.
“Charlie Hodgson is a very good goal-kicker and he will take any chances he gets. We have to make sure we’re not over eager and give away stupid penalties or else we’ll get punished with field possession or penalty goals.
“There’s no way this game will get forgotten. We’re determined to finish in the top four and to do that we have to make sure we win our home games, and that starts with this Saturday.”
Sharks back-rower David Seymour makes his first start since October having returned from injury last week in the victory over Leeds. Rob Miller also returns from injury to take his place on the bench.
Sharks Executive Director of Sport Steve Diamond knows this will be a tough clash for his side. He said: “Over a period of three years I recruited many of the players who have done so well for Northampton Saints. They may have hit a lean patch earlier this year, but are sure to benefit from the return of their international players, as they showed in the big win against Wasps. I fully expect the Saints to have a strong end to the season.”
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Ben Foden; Chris Ashton, Jon Clarke, James Downey, Paul Diggin; Stephen Myler, Lee Dickson; Soane Tonga’uiha, Dylan Hartley (capt), Brian Mujati, Courtney Lawes, Christian Day, Calum Clark, tom Wood, Roger Wilson
Brett Sharman, Alex Waller, Tom Mercey, Mark Sorenson, Phil Dowson, Stuart Commins, Shane Geraghty, Bruce Reihana
Nick Macleod; Ben Cohen, Chris Bell, Kyle Tonetti, Mark Cueto (capt); Charlie Hodgson, Dwayne Peel; Lee Imiolek, Neil Briggs, Henry Thomas, Chris Jones, Wame Lewaravu, James Gaskell, David Seymour, Sisaro Koyamaibole
Marc Jones, Eifion Roberts, Jack Forster, Nic Rouse, Neil McMillan, Will Cliff, Rob Miller, Iain Thornley