Saints decide against big shake-up for Clermont clash

Tom Stephenson will make his 50th Saints appearance on Saturday (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
Tom Stephenson will make his 50th Saints appearance on Saturday (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

Saints have opted against a big shake-up for Saturday's Champions Cup clash with Clermont Auvergne at Franklin's Gardens.

The green, black and gold are already out of the competition, having suffered four defeats from as many Pool 2 matches, picking up just one point so far.

But with the coaching staff keen to maintain the momentum created by last Saturday's 22-19 Aviva Premiership success against Gloucester, just three changes have been made.

Tighthead prop Kieran Brookes, who made his return from injury as a replacement last weekend, starts in place of Jamal Ford-Robinson.

Tom Stephenson will make his 50th appearance for Saints as he comes in for injured centre Luther Burrell.

The final change sees lock Christian Day replace the rested Jamie Gibson, with Courtney Lawes shifting to the back row.

Nafi Tuitavake gets a place on the bench, with Saints still shorn of several backs, including George North (knee), Piers Francis (concussion) and Stephen Myler (ribs).

Clermont have been hit by a host of injuries in recent weeks, but they are still able to select a formidable side for the trip to Franklin's Gardens.

The likes of Morgan Parra, who captains the side, and former Bath back Nick Abendanon will be in the starting 15.

Saints: Tuala; Pisi, Horne, Stephenson, Foden; Mallinder, Groom; Ma'afu, Hartley (c), Brookes; Ratuniyarawa, Day; Lawes, Wood, Harrison.

Replacements: Haywood, van Wyk, Ford-Robinson, Paterson, Eadie, Reinach, Grayson, Tuitavake.

Clermont Auvergne: Toeava; Abendanon, Betham, Lamerat, Grosso; McAlister, Parra (c); Falgoux, Kayser, Slimani; van der Merwe, Vahaamahina; Chouly, Lapandry, Lee.

Replacements: Beheragaray, Chaume, Zirakashvili, Jedrasiak, Iturria, Trussardi, Spedding, Kolelishvili.