Harlequins, Saints name strong teams for Big Game 13

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  • Louis Lynagh
    Rugby player
  • Alex Mitchell
    English rugby union footballer
  • Dan Biggar
    Welsh rugby union player
  • Joe Marler
    English rugby union footballer

Harlequins head coach Tabai Matson has named a strong matchday squad to face Northampton Saints in Big Game 13 at Twickenham on Monday.

There are five changes to the starting XV that secured two wins from two games in the Champions Cup against Cardiff at The Stoop last weekend, with England international props Joe Marler and Will Collier, second-row Matt Symons, fly-half Will Edwards and wing Louis Lynagh restored to the starting line-up.

Symons returns to the run-on side for the first time since October 23, having struggled with injury so far this campaign.

Saints boosted by returning internationals

Meanwhile, Dan Biggar and Sam Matavesi both return to Northampton Saints’ starting XV on Monday.

The men in black, green and gold make three changes in total to the team that narrowly went down to Ulster in Belfast last time out, with Juarno Augustus also coming back into the line-up in the number eight jersey.

This will be the third time Saints have run out in the annual Big Game clash at HQ, with one game won apiece between Northampton and Quins so far – but Chris Boyd’s side have won their last two away games against the reigning champions in the Premiership (Exeter in 2020/21 and Saracens in 2019/20).

Lewis Ludlam will lead out the men in black, green and gold at Twickenham – the flanker is joined in the back-row by fellow England international Courtney Lawes and Augustus.

David Ribbans and Api Ratuniyarawa are selected together for the third week running in Northampton’s engine room, with props Alex Waller and Ehren Painter continuing in the front-row either side of Fiji hooker Matavesi.

Boyd makes just one change to Saints’ back line from the side that lined up against Ulster, with Wales fly-half Dan Biggar returning to the No.10 jersey and George Furbank shifting to full-back.

That means Alex Mitchell continues at scrum-half and centres Matt Proctor and Fraser Dingwall are preferred in Northampton’s midfield, while Ollie Sleightholme and Courtnall Skosan – who boasts nine tries from eight appearances so far in Saints colours – complete the line-up on the wings.

Boyd can call on an experienced bench at Twickenham, with the likes of Tom Wood, Paul Hill, Rory Hutchinson and Ahsee Tuala all named amongst the replacements and aiming to make an impact in the latter stages of the clash.

Form: Harlequins have slipped to back-to-back defeats in Gallagher Premiership Rugby, at home to London Irish and away at Leicester, and have not lost three in succession in the competition since April 2019. Harlequins have lost only one of the last eight matches they have played at Twickenham Stadium: 29-39 to London Irish in the London Double Header in September 2017 whilst Harlequins have not lost the “Big Game” at England Rugby’s HQ since today’s opponents, Northampton, were the victors exactly seven years ago. Northampton Saints have won their last two Gallagher Premiership Rugby matches since their 6-30 reversal at Sale in Round 8. The Saints have won only once away from home in any competition since September: 36-20 at Bristol in Round 9 of Premiership Rugby. Northampton have lost on their last three visits to Twickenham Stadium, against Saracens, Harlequins and Leicester, since beating Harlequins there in the “Big Game” in 2014.

Prediction: Harlequins to win by 5

The teams:

Harlequins: 15 Tyrone Green, 14 Louis Lynagh, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Cadan Murley, 10 Will Edwards, 9 Danny Care, 8 Alex Dombrandt, 7 Jack Kenningham, 6 Tom Lawday, 5 Stephan Lewies (c), 4 Matt Symons, 3 Will Collier, 2 Jack Walker, 1 Joe Marler
Replacements: 16 Jack Musk, 17 Santiago Garcia Botta, 18 Simon Kerrod, 19 Hugh Tizard, 20 Viliami Taulani, 21 Scott Steele, 22 Luke Northmore, 23 Huw Jones

Northampton: 15 George Furbank, 14 Ollie Sleightholme, 13 Matt Proctor, 12 Fraser Dingwall, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Alex Mitchell, 8 Juarno Augustus, 7 Lewis Ludlam (c), 6 Courtney Lawes, 5 Api Ratuniyarawa, 4 David Ribbans, 3 Ehren Painter, 2 Sam Matavesi, 1 Alex Waller
Replacements: 16 James Fish, 17 Nick Auterac, 18 Paul Hill, 19 Alex Coles, 20 Tom Wood, 21 Tom James, 22 Rory Hutchinson, 23 Ahsee Tuala

Venue: Twickenham Stadium
Kick-off: 17:00 GMT
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant referees: Anthony Woodthorpe, Jamie Leahy
TMO: Stuart Terheege

The article Harlequins, Saints name strong teams for Big Game 13 appeared first on Planetrugby.com.

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