Northampton Saints v Bristol Rugby
October 4, 2008
England Saxons international Nils Mordt makes his debut for Northampton against Bristol © Getty Images
Following two tough away matches at Saracens and Leicester, Northampton Saints boss Jim Mallinder has awarded debuts to centre Nils Mordt and number eight Rob Milligan ahead of the Anglo-Welsh Cup clash with Bristol at Franklin's Gardens on Saturday.
Several more players could also make their first team bow should they come off the bench and the Saints boss says that all of the players involved are eager to demonstrate what they can do on a big stage.
"Competition for starting places has been fierce all season," he said today. "All of the players have trained well. We have an unbeaten home record that we are proud of and I want this to continue on Saturday.
"The EDF Energy Cup is an important competition for us. But we are also in the middle of a tough run of matches and have to manage our squad, particularly after two physically demanding encounters at Saracens and Leicester."
Bristol Rugby Head Coach Richard Hill has rung the changes from the side that faced Saracens on Wednesday evening but is still able to name a team containing six full internationals. Several players are making their first starts of the season while Mathew Turner and Chris Ashwin are making their full debuts for the club.
The Bristol side is a mixture of up and coming talent and experience with seasoned internationals featuring alongside several Academy graduates. Hill admitted that his side's poor start to the season, with five defeats on the bounce, had added extra incentive to register a win, "This game is probably much more important now. We need a win. "It doesn't matter where it comes from,but it will give the club a boost. This game at Northampton is of quite significant importance."
On the subject of wing Mathew Turner, freshly arrived at the club on Tuesday, Hill was confident of a positive showing, "With the way we are playing at the moment, wingers Tom Arscott and David Lemi are getting plenty of opportunities.
"We are trying to play rugby as much as we can. He will get lots of ball and plenty of opportunities."
Northampton Saints: Paul Diggin, Chris Ashton, Chris Mayor, Nils Mordt, Sean Lamont, Barry Everitt, Lee Dickson, Soane Tonga'uiha, Paul Shields, Barry Stewart, Alex Rae (c), Matt Lord, Courtney Lawes, Ben Lewitt, Rob Milligan
Replacements: Joe Gray, Jon Vickers, Ben Broster, James Cannon, Liam Neale, John Brake, Nick Greenhalgh
Bristol Rugby: Vunga Lilo; Lee Robinson, Luke Eves, Kevin Maggs, Mathew Turner; Chris Ashwin, Haydn Thomas; Mark Irish, Mark Regan, Peter Bracken; Roy Winters, Robert Sidoli; Matt Salter (c), Redford Pennycook, Iain Grieve
Replacements: David Blaney, Alex Clarke, Dave Attwood, Chevvy Pennycook, Sam Alford, Ed Barnes, Greg Barnes
Despite having lost all four of their 2014 Six Nations games, the future of Italian rugby is bright with the team showing a new youthful core, argues Enrico Borra
"The loudest cheer at a rugby game, away from social media gimmicks, pumping music and pyrotechnics will always be for a try." Tom Hamilton on the Twickenham atmosphere
"The only thing that will stop this England team from becoming a great team is themselves. They need to ask themselves 'what can we be?'" The Phil Vickery column
The latest Monday Maul looks at the hectic final weekend, the Lions hangover, the superb Mike Brown and the 'selfie'