sport

Northampton v Gloucester preview

Northampton have named a much-changed line-up for their return to Aviva Premiership action at home to Gloucester on Saturday (12.30pm).

With the two sides battling it out for a place in the top four, Saints boss Jim Mallinder has opted to name a strong-looking line-up.

The Pisi brothers - Ken and George - return to the back division alongside Stephen Myler and Lee Dickson.

Phil Dowson takes over the captaincy, with Soane Tonga'uiha and Samu Manoa also included in the pack.

Gloucester will welcome back their England Saxons contingent for the trip to Franklin's Gardens.

Nick Wood and Jonny May both return after missing the past two weeks and are part of six changes made by Nigel Davies.

Darren Dawidiuk, Will James and Akapusi Qera will bolster the pack, while Dan Robson takes over at scrum-half.

Mallinder said: "After four weeks of cup action, we are looking forward to getting back to the Aviva Premiership. We're well placed in the league table and close to the top four, and with nine games left there is everything to play for. We need the players to be ready to perform from the first whistle, and it will be fantastic if the fans can create an inspiring atmosphere in the stands.

"Although we played Gloucester a fortnight ago, this will be a different game. Both teams will have quite a few changes from that day, and there is always an edge when league points are up for grabs.

"It's going to be a tough contest and as with every week we're going to have to be at our best."

Gloucester director of rugby Davies said: "It's been a complete refocus this week, and a re-organisation of what we've been looking at. And this has been planned. We'd have preferred to be going into this one off the back of two wins, but we're pretty clear about what we need to do.

"Over the past few weeks, we've played a bit more expansively than we have so far this season. The biggest problem we've got at the moment is discipline and that's fundamental to our game. We have to get that right."

Northampton: 15 James Wilson, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 George Pisi, 12 Dom Waldouck, 11 Jamie Elliott, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Lee Dickson, 1 Soane Tonga'uiha, 2 Mike Haywood, 3 Tom Mercey, 4 Samu Manoa, 5 Mark Sorenson, 6 Phil Dowson (capt), 7 Ben Nutley, 8 GJ Van Velze.

Replacements: 16 Ross McMillan, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Paul Doran Jones, 19 James Craig, 20 Rhys Oakley, 21 Martin Roberts, 22 Ryan Lamb, 23 Tom May.

Gloucester: 15 Rob Cook, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Mike Tindall (capt), 12 Tim Molenaar, 11 Jonny May, 10 Ryan Mills, 9 Dan Robson, 1 Nick Wood, 2 Darren Dawidiuk, 3 Rupert Harden, 4 Lua Lokotui, 5 Will James, 6 Tom Savage, 7 Akapusi Qera, 8 Sione Kalamafoni.

Replacements: 16 Tommaso d'Apice, 17 Dan Murphy, 18 Yann Thomas, 19 Peter Buxton, 20 Matt Cox, 21 Jimmy Cowan, 22 Shane Monahan, 23 Martyn Thomas.