Premiership: Fin Smith and Sam Matavesi start for Northampton Saints on visit to Bristol Bears

Fin Smith for Northampton Saints Credit: Alamy
Fin Smith for Northampton Saints Credit: Alamy

Bristol Bears boss Pat Lam has made one change to his starting XV to face Northampton Saints, with Joe Batley making his return from injury.

Batley lines up alongside Chris Vui in the second-row while Yann Thomas, Harry Thacker and Max Lahiff make up the front-row at Ashton Gate.

Magnus Bradbury starts at number eight with flanks Fitz Harding and Sam Jeffries completing the back-row for the hosting Bears on Friday night.

Randall captains again

Harry Randall skippers the side from scrum-half and partners with AJ MacGinty in the half-back pairing. James Williams and the explosive Semi Radradra continue their partnership in the midfield.

Gabriel Ibitoye starts on the wing, with Siva Naulago and Charles Piutau completing in the back three.

On the pine, Bryan Byrne, Jake Woolmore and George Kloska are front-row options. Meanwhile, Steven Luatua returns via the bench, with Jake Heenan as the remaining forward replacements.

Sam Bedlow and Ioan Lloyd join scrum-half Andy Uren as backline substitutions.

Meanwhile, Northampton have made several changes, headlined by hooker Sam Matavesi making his return from injury. Alongside the returnee is Alfie Petch and Ethan Waller in the front-row.

Robust star Lukhan Salakaia-Loto is joined by Alex Moon in the second-row with Alex Coles, Angus Scott-young, and Sam Graham all making up the loose trio.

Fin Smith starts

Fin Smith starts this week at fly-half alongside Callum Braley in the half-backs, with captain Fraser Dingwall lining up alongside Rory Hutchinson.

George Hendy returns to the starting line-up for the first time since October at full-back, with Courtnall Skosan and Tom Collins in the back three.

On the bench, Tom Cruse, Alex Waller and Paul Hill make up the front-row contingent, with Karl Wilings and Aaron Kinkley other forward substitutions.

Tom Litchfield starts from the bench with James Grayson and Jake Garside as the backline options.

The teams

Bristol Bears: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Siva Naulago, 13 Semi Radradra, 12 James Williams, 11 Gabriel Ibitoye, 10 AJ MacGinty, 9 Harry Randall (c), 8 Magnus Bradbury, 7 Fitz Harding, 6 Sam Jeffries, 5 Joe Batley, 4 Chris Vui, 3 Max Lahiff, 2 Harry Thacker, 1 Yann Thomas
Replacements: 16 Bryan Byrne, 17 Jake Woolmore, 18 George Kloska, 19 Steven Luatua, 20 Jake Heenan, 21 Andy Uren, 22 Sam Bedlow, 23 Ioan Lloyd

Northampton Saints: 15 George Hendy, 14 Courtnall Skosan, 13 Fraser Dingwall (c), 12 Rory Hutchinson, 11 Tom Collins, 10 Fin Smith, 9 Callum Braley, 8 Sam Graham, 7 Angus Scott-Young, 6 Alex Coles, 5 Alex Moon, 4 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 3 Alfie Petch, 2 Sam Matavesi, 1 Ethan Waller
Replacements: 16 Tom Cruse, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Paul Hill, 19 Karl Wilkins, 20 Aaron Hinkley, 21 Jake Garside, 22 James Grayson, 23 Tom Litchfield

Venue: Ashton Gate
Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
Referee: Ian Tempest
Assistant Referees: Adam Leal, Phil Watters
TMO: David Rose

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