TEAMS – Round 2: James Grayson and Alex Mitchell to make 50th appearances for Saints

Burgeoning Northampton half-backs James Grayson and Alex Mitchell will mark a half-century of appearances for Saints when they feature against Harlequins this weekend.

Fly-half Grayson, 22, has already notched up over 300 points in his fledgling career in Black, Green and Gold, while 23-year-old half-back partner Mitchell has an impressive 15 tries to his name for Northampton – and both have been named as starters by Chris Boyd.

Saints are unbeaten on home soil against Harlequins since 2012, offering a good chance to rebound from their 32-23 defeat to Sale Sharks last weekend in the opening round of the new Premiership season.

The hosts welcome Lewis Ludlam back into the 23 for the first time this season from international duty, with the flanker starting in the back row and skippering Northampton alongside loosehead prop Alex Waller in his new role as Club co-captain.

Reece Marshall makes his first Saints start since May 2019 at hooker, with Paul Hill extending his run at tighthead to complete the front row.

David Ribbans, who returned from England camp last week to come off the bench for Northampton, is selected to start against Quins alongside Fiji international Api Ratuniyarawa in the engine room – meaning Nick Isiekwe shifts into the back row alongside Ludlam and Tom Wood, who slots in at No.8 with Teimana Harrison out injured.

Tom Collins kicked off the new season with a try last time out against Sale, and the 26-year-old flyer continues in the back three; Ahsee Tuala also continues on the opposite wing, but Harry Mallinder comes into the Northampton XV at fullback for his first start since March after impressing on his return from injury last week.

As for Harlequins, who suffered a 33-3 defeat to Exeter last Friday, Paul Gustard has not been triggered into making a knee-jerk reaction to the heavy defeat, making only one change.

Matt Symons left the curtain-raising match earlier through injury and has been replaced in the second row by Glen Young.

England centre Joe Marchant and Scotland scrum-half Scott Steele make their return to the matchday-23 on the bench, after being released by their respective national sides.

Positive signs for James Chisholm in his recovery from a knee injury allow the back row to take a place among the replacements, where 20-year-old lock Hugh Tizard will also sit ahead of a prospective debut.

Head of rugby Gustard said: “Whilst we were disappointed to lose in the fashion that we did against Exeter last Friday, as a squad and as a support staff we felt for 71 minutes we were competitive against Europe’s finest.

“We now move on and will have to up our game against a very well-coached and talented Northampton Saints team.

“We’re pleased to welcome back three of our international representatives in Scott Steele, James Lang and Joe Marchant, who will add real quality to our matchday 23. We look forward to playing a full, disciplined 80-minute performance on Saturday.”

Northampton Saints v Harlequins (Saturday, 2pm kick-off)

Northampton Saints: 15 Harry Mallinder, 14 Ahsee Tuala, 13 Matt Proctor, 12 Piers Francis, 11 Tom Collins, 10 James Grayson, 9 Alex Mitchell; 1 Alex Waller (co-capt), 2 Reece Marshall, 3 Paul Hill, 4 Api Ratuniyarawa, 5 David Ribbans, 6 Nick Isiekwe, 7 Lewis Ludlam (co-capt), 8 Tom Wood

Replacements: 16 James Fish, 17 Nick Auterac, 18 Owen Franks, 19 Alex Coles, 20 Shaun Adendorff, 21 Henry Taylor, 22 Fraser Dingwall, 23 Rory Hutchinson

Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Nathan Earle, 13 Luke Northmore, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Cadan Murley, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Danny Care; 1 Santiago Garcia Botta, 2 Scott Baldwin, 3 Wilco Louw, 4 Glen Young, 5 Stephan Lewies (capt), 6 Tom Lawday, 7 Will Evans, 8 Alex Dombrandt

Replacements: 16 Joe Gray, 17 Jordan Els, 18 Simon Kerrod, 19 Hugh Tizard, 20 James Chisholm, 21 Scott Steele, 22 James Lang, 23 James Marchant

Bristol Bears v Worcester Warriors (Saturday, 3pm kick-off)

Bristol Bears: 15 Ioan Lloyd, 14 Niyi Adeolokun, 13 Piers O’Conor, 12 Siale Piutau (capt), 11 Henry Purdy, 10 Sam Bedlow, 9 Harry Randall; 1 Yann Thomas, 2 Bryan Byrne, 3 John Afoa, 4 Ed Holmes, 5 Joe Joyce, 6 Chris Vui, 7 Dan Thomas, 8 Nathan Hughes

Replacements: 16 Will Capon, 17 Jake Woolmore, 18 Max Lahiff, 19 John Hawkins, 20 Jake Heenan, 21 Andy Uren, 22 Tiff Eden, 23 Alapati Leiua

Worcester Warriors: 15 Melani Nanai, 14 Tom Howe, 13 Oli Morris, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Nick David, 10 Billy Searle, 9 Francois Hougaard; 1 Callum Black, 2 Niall Annett, 3 Nick Schonert, 4 Anton Bresler, 5 Andrew Kitchener, 6 Ted Hill (capt), 7 Matt Kvesic, 8 Marco Mama

Replacements: 16 Beck Cutting, 17 Ethan Waller, 18 Richard Palframan, 19 George Merrick, 20 Joe Batley, 21 Gareth Simpson, 22 Jamie Shillcock, 23 Ashley Beck

Gloucester v Wasps (Saturday, 3pm kick-off)

Gloucester: 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Ollie Thorley, 13 Billy Twelvetrees (capt), 12 Mark Atkinson, 11 Tom Seabrook, 10 Lloyd Evans, 9 Joe Simpson; 1 Val Rapava-Ruskin, 2 Jack Singleton, 3 Jack Stanley, 4 Ed Slater, 5 Matt Garvey, 6 Freddie Clarke, 7 Jordy Reid, 8 Ruan Ackermann

Replacements: 16 James Hanson, 17 Jamal Ford-Robinson, 18 Ciaran Knight, 19 Alex Craig, 20 Jamie Gibson, 21 Will Flinn, 22 Henry Trinder, 23 Kyle Moyle

Wasps: 15 Lima Sopoaga, 14 Zach Kibirige, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Michael Le Bourgeois, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Sam Wolstenholme; 1 Ben Harris, 2 Tom Cruse, 3 Kieran Brookes, 4 Tim Cardall, 5 James Gaskell, 6 Alfie Barbeary, 7 Thomas Young (capt), 8 Tom Willis

Replacements: 16 Tommy Taylor, 17 Tom West, 18 Jeff Toomaga-Allen, 19 Levi Douglas, 20 Ben Morris, 21 Ben Vellacott, 22 Charlie Atkinson, 23 Paolo Odogwu

Exeter Chiefs v Bath (Saturday, 5.30pm kick-off)

Exeter Chiefs: 15 Facundo Cordero, 14 Tom O’Flaherty, 13 Ian Whitten, 12 Ollie Devoto, 11 Olly Woodburn, 10 Joe Simmonds, 9 Jack Maunder; 1 Ben Moon, 2 Jack Yeandle (capt), 3 Harry Williams, 4 Don Armand, 5 Sam Skinner, 6 Dave Ewers, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 8 Sam Simmonds

Replacements: 16 Jack Innard, 17 Alec Hepburn, 18 Marcus Street, 19 Will Witty, 20 Richard Capstick, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Jack Walsh, 23 Tom Hendrickson

Bath: 15 Tom de Glanville, 14 Ruaridh McConnochie, 13 Cameron Redpath, 12 Josh Matavesi, 11 Joe Cokanasiga, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Ben Spencer; 1 Beno Obano, 2 Tom Dunn, 3 Henry Thomas, 4 Josh McInally, 5 Charlie Ewels (capt), 6 Mike Williams, 7 Josh Bayliss, 8 Zach Mercer

Replacements: 16 Jack Walker, 17 Lewis Boyce, 18 Christian Judge, 19 Elliott Stooke, 20 Miles Reid, 21 Will Chudley, 22 Max Clark, 23 Semesa Rokoduguni

London Irish v Leicester Tigers (Sunday, 4:15pm kick-off)

London Irish: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Ben Loader, 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Billy Meakes, 11 Ollie Hassell-Collins, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Ben Meehan; 1 Allan Dell, 2 Agustin Creevy, 3 Sekope Kepu, 4 George Nott, 5 Andrei Mahu, 6 Seán O’Brien, 7 Blair Cowan, 8 Matt Rogerson (capt)

Replacements: 16 Motu Matu’u, 17 Harry Elrington, 18 Ollie Hoskins, 19 Chunya Munga, 20 Steve Mafi, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Theo Brophy Clews, 23 Tom Parton

Leicester Tigers: TBA

Newcastle Falcons v Sale Sharks (Friday, 7.45pm kick-off)

Newcastle Falcons: 15 Tom Penny, 14 Adam Radwan, 13 Luther Burrell, 12 Toby Flood, 11 Ben Stevenson, 10 Brett Connon, 9 Michael Young (capt); 1 Trevor Davison, 2 George McGuigan, 3 Logovi’i Mulipola, 4 Greg Peterson, 5 Marco Fuser, 6 Sean Robinson, 7 Connor Collett, 8 Gary Graham

Replacements: 16 Jamie Blamire, 17 Adam Brocklebank, 18 Mark Tampin, 19 Darren Barry, 20 Josh Basham, 21 Sam Stuart, 22 Joel Hodgson, 23 Pete Lucock

Sale Sharks: 15 Luke James, 14 Denny Solomona, 13 Sam James, 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11 Simon Hammersley, 10 AJ MacGinty, 9 Faf de Klerk; 1 Valery Morozov, 2 Akker van der Merwe, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 4 Cobus Wiese, 5 James Phillips, 6 Jean-Luc du Preez, 7 Ben Curry (capt), 8 Daniel du Preez

Replacements: 16 Curtis Langdon, 17 Bevan Rodd, 18 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 19 Matt Postlethwaite, 20 Sam Dugdale, 21 Will Cliff, 22 Rob du Preez, 23 Marland Yarde

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