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Will Carpenter


Posted Friday, March 8th 2019

Preview: Northampton Saints vs Bristol Bears

Bristol Bears head to Franklin's Gardens to face Chris Boyd's Northampton Saints, looking to build on last Friday's thrilling derby victory over Gloucester at Ashton Gate.

Tries from Dan Thomas and Andy Uren, together with a penalty try, two penalties from Callum Sheedy and one from Ian Madigan, led Bristol to a first league victory over the Cherry and Whites in more than 11 years.

Saints' run of two straight Gallagher Premiership wins was ended by Saracens last weekend, as they fell to a 36-17 defeat at Allianz Park.

Here's everything you need to know about Saturday's clash.

Team news

Bristol Bears: 15. Charles Piutau; 14. Luke Morahan, 13. Piers O’Conor, 12. Siale Piutau (co-capt), 11. Luke Daniels; 10. Callum Sheedy, 9. Andy Uren; 1. Yann Thomas, 2. Harry Thacker, 3. John Afoa, 4. Joe Batley, 5. Chris Vui, 6. Steve Luatua, 7. Jake Heenan, 8. Jordan Crane (co-capt).

Replacements: 16. Sam Parry, 17. Jake Woolmore, 18. Lewis Thiede, 19. George Smith, 20. Jack Lam, 21. Harry Randall, 22. Ian Madigan, 23. Mat Protheroe.

Northampton Saints: 15. George Furbank, 14. Ahsee Tuala, 13. Rory Hutchinson, 12. Piers Francis, 11. Taqele Naiyaravoro, 10. James Grayson, 9. Cobus Reinach; 1. Francois van Wyk, 2. Reece Marshall, 3. Paul Hill, 4. Alex Moon, 5. David Ribbans, 6. Tom Wood (capt), 7. Lewis Ludlam, 8. Mitch Eadie.

Replacements: 16. James Fish, 17. Alex Waller, 18. Jamal Ford-Robinson, 19. Api Ratuniyarawa, 20. Jamie Gibson, 21. Alex Mitchell, 22. Luther Burrell, 23. Tom Collins.

Last time out:

Bristol Bears 40-45 Northampton - Sat, 29th Sep 2018, Ashton Gate

A late fightback from Bristol Bears saw them earn two bonus-points from a scintillating Gallagher Premiership clash, but it wasn’t enough to take the spoils as Northampton Saints edged an 11-try thriller at Ashton Gate.

Pat Lam’s side scored five times in the glorious Autumn sunshine – two in the final ten minutes to seal their consolation points – but conceded six, as Saints hammered home a 20-24 half-time advantage to lead 30-45 with 15 minutes remaining.

Will Hurrell powered over for the second of an impressive brace on 70 minutes – Bristol's fourth - before turning provider for Alapati Leiua, whose fourth try of the season brought the hosts within seven of Saints and secured a second bonus-point.

Harry Thacker was also on the score sheet for Bristol, while Callum Sheedy was immaculate from the kicking tee to finish with a 16-point haul. 


Chris Vui

The Samoa captain signed a new three-year extension at Bristol Bears in December and has been a pivotal player for the club during the Gallagher Premiership campaign.

Vui's handling and playmaking ability, as well as his set-piece work and physicality in attack and defence, have made one of the league's standout second-rows.
The 25-year-old became the youngest captain in World Rugby when he skippered Samoa in 2017, before earning a spot in the Championship team of the season following an impressive debut campaign.

David Ribbans

England-qualified forward David Ribbans joined Saints from South African outfit Western Province in the winter of 2017, making his debut against arch rivals Leicester Tigers in the January of that year.

Ribbans had a rapid rise through the ranks in Cape Town, helping their Under-19s win the Provincial Championship before making his first-class debut in the Vodacom Cup in 2015.

He was then included in the Stormers’ Super Rugby squad in 2016, as well as being named Western Province’s Young Forward of the Year.

Luke Morahan

Luke Morahan made his return from injury during last weekend's victory over Gloucester - and the Australian flyer had a huge impact on the result with a dazzling break for Andy Uren's second-half try.

Morahan has scored five tries in 13 appearances in the Gallagher Premiership this season, adding to the 17 he scored in last season's GKIPA Championship to finish as the league's top scorer. 

Tom Collins

Tom Collins first came onto the scene at Franklin’s Gardens as part of the Saints Junior Academy.

The fleet-footed winger made himself a regular in the 2013/14 season, featuring in 13 games that term as well as the historic Premiership semi-final win over Leicester Tigers.

In the 2017/18 season, Collins racked up his 50th appearance in Black, Green and Gold aged just 23.

Word from the camps:

Pat Lam

“We’re really looking forward to the challenge that Northampton pose. They are playing great rugby and I think Chris Boyd has made a big difference – we can all see that in the way they play.

"It’s very similar, they like to use the ball and it’s going to be a great day. It’s a great pitch at Franklin’s Gardens, great atmosphere and wonderful people up there too.

"So, I think it’s going to be a really enjoyable game of rugby for both teams."

Chris Boyd

"Bristol play a genuine game of space whereas Saracens play very much a clinical game in contact so it's completely different fit for us.

"Both us and Bristol are prepared to chance our arm - there's no doubt about that.

"Both sides play pretty open football and both sides can battle with physicality when they can't get their game going.”

Form guide:

Northampton Saints’ five game winning run in all competitions ended at Saracens on Saturday.

The Saints have not lost successive Gallagher Premiership Rugby encounters since rounds eight and nine.

Saints have lost just once at Franklin’s Gardens in any tournament since October: 14-16 to Newcastle in round nine of Gallagher Premiership Rugby.

Bristol Bears three game losing run in all competitions ended with their home win over Gloucester last Friday.

The Bears have not won away from home in Premiership Rugby since their single point victory at Sale on New Year’s Day 2017.

Northampton have won their last seven matches against Bristol in all tournaments since the Bears 14-13 victory at Memorial Stadium in Premiership Rugby in November 2008.

Bristol’s only victory at Franklin’s Gardens since 2001 was in January 2007.

Bristol Bears: LLW
Northampton Saints: WWL

Weather forecast

Met Office says: 

Friday will be cloudy and mostly dry, though there may be a few patches of light rain or drizzle. Heavier rain will reach Cornwall in the evening and spread eastwards.

Maximum temperature 12 °C.

How to buy tickets:

If you're travelling to Franklin's Gardens, tickets are available to purchase from the official Northampton Saints website by clicking here.