Premiership: Julian Montoya and Dan Kelly return for Leicester, Northampton make four changes

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 Credit: PA Images
Credit: PA Images

Steve Borthwick has named the Leicester Tigers matchday squad for Saturday’s Premiership semi-final against Northampton Saints at Welford Road with Julian Montoya returning to action for the first time in more than a month.

The Argentina international is named at hooker alongside club captain Ellis Genge and Dan Cole in the front-row.

Charlie Clare, Nephi Leatigaga and Joe Heyes are the replacement front-rowers. If used, the 23-year-old Heyes will make his 100th Leicester Tigers first-team appearance.

Harry Wells and Calum Green start as the second-row pairing, with vice-captain Hanro Liebenberg, Tommy Reffell and Jasper Wiese making up the starting back-row.

Ollie Chessum and George Martin are included among the replacements.

Ben Youngs and George Ford are the starting half-backs while Dan Kelly is named to make his first appearance since mid-April alongside Matías Moroni in the Leicester midfield.

In the Tigers back three, Guy Porter and Harry Potter are the starting wings and Freddie Steward the starting full-back.

Jack van Poortvliet, Freddie Burns and Nemani Nadolo are the backs on the bench.

Northampton make four alterations

Meanwhile, Northampton director of rugby Chris Boyd has made four changes to his Saints line-up for this encounter with Juarno Augustus, Courtnall Skosan, Emmanuel Iyogun and Ehren Painter all set to start.

The men in Black, Green and Gold travel to Mattioli Woods Welford Road to lock horns with their East Midlands rivals for the first time in the knock-out stages of the competition since 2014.

Boyd largely sticks with the same back-line that ran in ten tries against Newcastle Falcons last time out, with Dan Biggar starting in the number 10 jersey to make his 50th Premiership appearance.

Alex Mitchell – statistically still the competition’s most-dangerous player with 24 try involvements (11 scores, 13 assists) so far this season – continues at scrum-half, while Rory Hutchinson again partners Fraser Dingwall in Saints’ midfield following his call-up to Scotland’s summer squad this week.

One change comes in the back three as Tommy Freeman – who boasts seven tries in his last five league appearances – shifts across to full-back to cover the unavailable George Furbank, clearing the way for Skosan to join Matt Proctor on the wings.

There are three further changes for the Saints in the pack, with front-row duo Iyogun and Painter coming into the line-up either side of hooker Sam Matavesi.

Alex Coles and Api Ratuniyarawa continue in the engine room for the fifth straight match, but following his return to fitness last weekend, Augustus returns to the Northampton back-row in the number eight8 jersey – meaning skipper Lewis Ludlam shifts to the flank to join Courtney Lawes.

There’s plenty of experience amongst the visitors’ replacements with Alex Waller and Mike Haywood – two survivors from Saints’ 2014 league triumph – ready to make an impact off the bench alongside the likes of David Ribbans, James Grayson and Piers Francis.

Form: This is Leicester Tigers’ 14th appearance in a Premiership Rugby semi-final fixture and their first for five years. The Tigers won their first eight matches at this stage but have been defeated in the last four which were all played away from home. Tigers have won all six previous home semi-finals they have played in Premiership Rugby. Leicester’s only defeat in their last six Premiership Rugby fixtures was 20-26 at Harlequins in Round 23. Tigers have won their last 12 Premiership Rugby fixtures at Welford Road and have not won thirteen in succession at the venue since 2010. Northampton Saints have appeared in nine previous Premiership semi-finals winning just two, in 2013 at Saracens and in 2014 at home to Leicester. The Saints only loss in their last seven Premiership Rugby matches was 38-42 at Saracens in Round 25. In those seven matches the Saints have run in forty tries. Northampton’s away form in Premiership Rugby this season is an even won six, lost six. The Tigers achieved a Premiership Rugby double over the Saints this season for the first time since 2016/17. Northampton have won on three of their last five visits to Welford Road in Premiership Rugby. The two old East Midlands rivals have faced off in two previous Premiership Rugby semi-finals which both went with home field advantage, at Leicester in 2011 and at Northampton in 2014.

Prediction: Leicester by 8

The teams:

Leicester: 15 Freddie Steward, 14 Harry Potter, 13 Matías Moroni, 12 Dan Kelly, 11 Guy Porter, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Tommy Reffell, 6 Hanro Liebenberg, 5 Calum Green, 4 Harry Wells, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Julián Montoya, 1 Ellis Genge (c)
16 Charlie Clare, 17 Nephi Leatigaga, 18 Joe Heyes, 19 Ollie Chessum, 20 George Martin, 21 Jack van Poortvliet, 22 Freddie Burns, 23 Nemani Nadolo

Northampton: 15 Tommy Freeman, 14 Matt Proctor, 13 Fraser Dingwall, 12 Rory Hutchinson, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Alex Mitchell, 8 Juarno Augustus, 7 Lewis Ludlam (c), 6 Courtney Lawes, 5 Api Ratuniyarawa, 4 Alex Coles, 3 Ehren Painter, 2 Sam Matavesi, 1 Emmanuel Iyogun
16 Mike Haywood, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Oisín Heffernan, 19 David Ribbans, 20 Aaron Hinkley, 21 Tom James, 22 James Grayson, 23 Piers Francis

Date: Saturday, June 11
Venue: Welford Road
Kick-off: 16:30 BST (15:30 GMT)
Referee: Matthew Carley
Assistant referees: Craig Maxwell-Keys, Jack Makepeace
TMO: Stuart Terheege

READ MORE: Exclusive: Northampton Saints stalwart Alex Waller previews the Premiership semi-final with Leicester Tigers


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