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Fin Smith to debut for Saints against Bristol Bears

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Fly-half Fin Smith will make his Northampton Saints debut this weekend, as the men in Black, Green and Gold welcome Bristol Bears in Round 8 of the Gallagher Premiership.The hosts saw a two-game winning run in the league ended last weekend at Bath Rugby, although Saints have only lost once at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens in any competition since February.Bears come into the clash (which kicks off at 3pm on Saturday and will be broadcast on PRTV Live) on a three-game losing run but have a strong recent record in Northampton, winning three times on their last four visits in the league.Director of Rugby Phil Dowson makes eight changes in total to his line-up in total from last week’s defeat, with England Under-20 international George Hendy earning his first Premiership start at full-back.Matt Proctor shifts over to the wing to make room for fit-again Rory Hutchinson at centre, while Ollie Sleighholme – who has scored five tries in six league appearances so far this term – rounds off the back three.Fraser Dingwall is also selected in the midfield and will captain Saints on home soil, with Alex Mitchell named at scrum-half and Smith pulling on the Northampton No.10 jersey for the first time following his arrival at the Club from Worcester Warriors earlier this month.There are five changes to the hosts’ pack as loosehead prop Emmanuel Iyogun and hooker Mike Haywood join Paul Hill in the front row.Lukhan Salakaia-Loto continues at lock but Alex Moon returns to engine room alongside him, while there are two further changes to the back row as flankers Sam Graham and Aaron Hinkley both start the clash, with Juarno Augustus selected at No.8 for the third straight match.Meanwhile Angus Scott-Young, Ethan Waller and Brandon Nansen all return to the matchday 23 for Saints amongst the replacements, with Tom Collins also hoping to extend his try-scoring run to four matches if he enters the action from the bench.NORTHAMPTON SAINTS vs BRISTOL BEARSGallagher Premiership Rugby, Round 8Saturday 29 October 2022cinch Stadium at Franklin’s GardensKick-off: 3pm15 George Hendy14 Matt Proctor13 Fraser Dingwall (c)12 Rory Hutchinson11 Ollie Sleightholme10 Fin Smith9 Alex Mitchell1 Emmanuel Iyogun2 Mike Haywood3 Paul Hill4 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto5 Alex Moon6 Sam Graham7 Aaron Hinkley8 Juarno AugustusReplacements:16 Sam Matavesi17 Ethan Waller18 Alfie Petch19 Brandon Nansen20 Angus Scott-Young21 Tom James22 James Grayson23 Tom CollinsNot considered for selection:Matthew Arden, Dan Biggar, Tommy Freeman, Aston Gradwick-Light, Ethan Grayson, Courtney Lawes, George Patten, and Karl Wilkins.International duty:Alex Coles, George Furbank, Lewis Ludlam, and David Ribbans.Referee: Hamish SmalesAssistant Referees: Greg Macdonald and Phil WattersNo.4: Gareth HolsgroveTMO: David RoseBRISTOL TEAM TO PLAY SAINTS15 Charles Piutau, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Piers O’Conor, 12 Sam Bedlow, 11 Henry Purdy, 10 Callum Sheedy, 9 Andy Uren; 1 Jake Woolmore, 2 Harry Thacker, 3 Max Lahiff, 4 Joe Batley, 5 Joe Joyce (c), 6 Magnus Bradbury, 7 Sam Lewis, 8 Fitz Harding.Replacements: 16 Will Capon, 17 Yann Thomas, 18 Jay Tyack, 19 Chris Vui, 20 Jake Heenan, 21 Will Porter, 22 AJ MacGinty, 23 Jack Bates.

Fly-half Fin Smith will make his Northampton Saints debut this weekend, as the men in Black, Green and Gold welcome Bristol Bears in Round 8 of the Gallagher Premiership.

The hosts saw a two-game winning run in the league ended last weekend at Bath Rugby, although Saints have only lost once at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens in any competition since February.

Bears come into the clash (which kicks off at 3pm on Saturday and will be broadcast on PRTV Live) on a three-game losing run but have a strong recent record in Northampton, winning three times on their last four visits in the league.

Director of Rugby Phil Dowson makes eight changes in total to his line-up in total from last week’s defeat, with England Under-20 international George Hendy earning his first Premiership start at full-back.

Matt Proctor shifts over to the wing to make room for fit-again Rory Hutchinson at centre, while Ollie Sleighholme – who has scored five tries in six league appearances so far this term – rounds off the back three.

Fraser Dingwall is also selected in the midfield and will captain Saints on home soil, with Alex Mitchell named at scrum-half and Smith pulling on the Northampton No.10 jersey for the first time following his arrival at the Club from Worcester Warriors earlier this month.

There are five changes to the hosts’ pack as loosehead prop Emmanuel Iyogun and hooker Mike Haywood join Paul Hill in the front row.

Lukhan Salakaia-Loto continues at lock but Alex Moon returns to engine room alongside him, while there are two further changes to the back row as flankers Sam Graham and Aaron Hinkley both start the clash, with Juarno Augustus selected at No.8 for the third straight match.

Meanwhile Angus Scott-Young, Ethan Waller and Brandon Nansen all return to the matchday 23 for Saints amongst the replacements, with Tom Collins also hoping to extend his try-scoring run to four matches if he enters the action from the bench.

NORTHAMPTON SAINTS vs BRISTOL BEARS
Gallagher Premiership Rugby, Round 8
Saturday 29 October 2022
cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens
Kick-off: 3pm

15 George Hendy
14 Matt Proctor
13 Fraser Dingwall (c)
12 Rory Hutchinson
11 Ollie Sleightholme
10 Fin Smith
9 Alex Mitchell

1 Emmanuel Iyogun
2 Mike Haywood
3 Paul Hill
4 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto
5 Alex Moon
6 Sam Graham
7 Aaron Hinkley
8 Juarno Augustus

Replacements:
16 Sam Matavesi
17 Ethan Waller
18 Alfie Petch
19 Brandon Nansen
20 Angus Scott-Young
21 Tom James
22 James Grayson
23 Tom Collins

Not considered for selection:
Matthew Arden, Dan Biggar, Tommy Freeman, Aston Gradwick-Light, Ethan Grayson, Courtney Lawes, George Patten, and Karl Wilkins.

International duty:
Alex Coles, George Furbank, Lewis Ludlam, and David Ribbans.

Referee: Hamish Smales
Assistant Referees: Greg Macdonald and Phil Watters
No.4: Gareth Holsgrove
TMO: David Rose

BRISTOL TEAM TO PLAY SAINTS
15 Charles Piutau, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Piers O’Conor, 12 Sam Bedlow, 11 Henry Purdy, 10 Callum Sheedy, 9 Andy Uren; 1 Jake Woolmore, 2 Harry Thacker, 3 Max Lahiff, 4 Joe Batley, 5 Joe Joyce (c), 6 Magnus Bradbury, 7 Sam Lewis, 8 Fitz Harding.
Replacements: 16 Will Capon, 17 Yann Thomas, 18 Jay Tyack, 19 Chris Vui, 20 Jake Heenan, 21 Will Porter, 22 AJ MacGinty, 23 Jack Bates.

Content & Images from – Northampton Saints Rugby


Premiership

Injury Update | Jack Singleton

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Gloucester Rugby

Following Saturday’s fixture with Northampton Saints, Gloucester Rugby can confirm Jack Singleton suffered a significant lower leg injury.

The hooker sustained the injury in a tackle in the 32nd minute of the Cherry & Whites’ win over the Saints.

Singleton underwent surgery on Monday evening and will now work closely with the Gloucester Rugby medical team during this rehabilitation period.

COO, Alex Brown, said:

“We’re all gutted for Jack. He’s an influential member of our squad, and clearly, we are disappointed to lose his quality from the pitch over the next few months.

“Whilst it’s still too early to pinpoint how quickly Jack will return, we know that he will be doing everything he can to make a full and swift recovery.”

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Cowan-Dickie to leave the Chiefs

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Exeter Chiefs

“Obviously, it’s a different competition, a different language – which I’ll have to learn – but I think it’s time for a change. Hopefully, I’ve still got plenty of years left in my career, but this is an opportunity for me to go over there and show what I am all about.”

Before now and the end of the season, Cowan-Dickie insists his sole focus is on the Chiefs and delivering performances to a club he says he will forever be grateful to.

“I’ve still lots to give here,” he added. “This is my club and I want to go out on a real high and win some trophies. It will be weird when the time comes to say my goodbyes, but for now I want to do all I can to ensure it finishes how I want it to.

“Since I arrived all those years ago, I’ve had some unbelievable memories and made friends for life. For me, this is the most important year of my Chiefs career because it’s my last. The club, the people, the supporters, they’ve all done so much for me and I’m excited to get out there and put my best foot forward.”

Among those to have helped nurture Cowan-Dickie – who has won 42 England caps and three for the Lions – from a raw rookie at Truro College to one of the world’s leading forwards have been the Chiefs coaching staff, whom he was quick to praise for their input.

“The early stages it was Robin Cowling and Ricky Pellow who did a lot for me,” he said. “Some of the things Robin made me do, like extra fitness, I still remember that now, but without them I wouldn’t be here now.

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‘We showed the strength in depth in the squad’: Declan Kidney’s post-Newcastle analysis

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London Irish Director of Rugby Declan Kidney believes the quality throughout the squad was prevalent in Saturday’s Round 12 Gallagher Premiership win over Newcastle Falcons.

Being the Exiles first game at home in six weeks, Kidney’s men made it a homecoming to remember as his side registered five tries to win 39-17 at the Gtech Community Stadium.

Three of Irish’s scores were dotted down by replacements, and with the bench emptied in the second half, the boss duly credited the performances of his finishers on the day to come back from a four-point deficit.

Such was the challenge that Newcastle posed on the day, Falcons took the lead in the third quarter but the headstrong attitude of his Exiles on the day saw the home side to their second league win of the year.

“Being back at home is a big influence, we’ve been on the road for quite a few days, someone said it’s been 43 days since our last home game!

“It’s a difficult way to run a sporting business, but credit to everyone in the organisation to keep a safe track and it was great that we managed to get a result,” Kidney stated.

“The scoreline probably does Newcastle a little bit of an injustice but we stuck at it to the end and we’re delighted with the result, though we know there’s still room for improvement.

“I can’t speak highly enough of the boys, we had a few things thrown at us in terms of injury, but it shows the strength in depth of the squad and the boys came through.”

In Irish’s absence from their west London home, a winless run of form followed but the belief in the squad and their performances that picked up five losing bonus points this season shone through on the evening.

“Sport is a microcosm of life, there’s no point in getting down on yourselves and you have to work your way through it, and we done that.

“We were probably tentative in the first half; they had a couple of balls that rolled out to gave us field position back and it was tight for that first 50 minutes, but they came back strongly in those 10 or 15 minutes after half-time.

“It was at that stage we said, ‘let’s get going here’ and I thought we played really well from there on in.”

Out of possession, Irish shone in their defensive output with strong sets that repelled the visitors in key moments of the second half.

The Boys in Green maintained their standing as the league’s highest performing side in regards to tackling percentages, completing 140/155 (90.3%) attempts on the evening.

As well as their free-flowing scores, Kidney was keen to credit the squad’s mindset when faced with a Newcastle team looking for their fourth win of the Premiership season.

He explained: “It has always been that combination of both, Newcastle have been scoring for fun with some great tries so to hold them to two tries was a real pleasing aspect of the performance.

“Those sets were absolutely massive in the outcome of the game.

“The tries are good and we’ll never take them for granted because we do a lot of work on that, but there’s a lot of work that goes on beforehand too.

“Teams are inclined to tire themselves out, gaps will appear towards the end of the game and they’re renowned for taking those opportunities also.

“We had a couple of good defensive sets and managed to take our opportunities when they came our way.

“I could’ve said the same thing in the last few weeks whereby we didn’t take our opportunities and one or two defensive sets that let us down, but that’s the tightness in all the matches.”

The evening, a massive occasion for Irish in terms of the context of the season, also allowed for personal accolades.

Captain Matt Rogerson reached a century of appearances for London Irish, with front-row forward Oliver Hoskins also surpassing the 150 milestone.

“That’s what it means to Matt, Oliver Hoskins also had 150 appearances too so the attention must go to those boys as well.

“They’re two big milestones, and I’ve had the good fortune to work with those lads from the day I’ve arrived, and they are a credit to themselves, their families and their team.

“When you have boys like that in your team, you know that you’ll always be there or thereabouts.”

The Exiles now take a two-week break from domestic action, with a first Heineken Champions Cup berth in a decade beginning with the arrival of Montpellier Hérault this Friday.

The Top 14 champions bring with them a unique skillset, Kidney commented, that will be another exciting challenge for Irish.

“The importance of the last couple of weeks is that we have been learning to win, all credit to the players to do that.

“When you have that hunger the last few weeks can give you, that’s what can happen.

“What we need to do now is use that going forward, it’s a new competition this week with new challenges, a different type of opposition with a different way of playing.

“It’s a good place to be after Saturday, a special thanks must go out to the supporters after the last couple of weeks, they were great again and helped to bring us through in those defensive sets.

“It’s brilliant for us, it’s the first time we’ve been in the competition for a decade and we’re the opening match, so the games keep getting bigger and better.”

Content & Images from – London Irish Rugby


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