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Friday Mar 22, 2024

Fin Smith returns to face off against AJ MacGinty in Premiership restart

Premiership Rugby makes its highly anticipated comeback this weekend following a two-month hiatus. During this break, the English top division paused all competitive matches to accommodate the international duties of its elite players. Now that the Six Nations has concluded, the players are rejoining their respective clubs, gearing up to face off against their former international comrades in an intense battle on the domestic stage.

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The first two games will take place on Friday 22nd March with Bristol Bears hosting Northampton Saints at Ashton Gate, and Gloucester travelling up to Welford Road for what is expected to be a typical tough welcome at Leicester Tigers.

Young England international Fin Smith returns from injury to take his place in Northampton Saints starting team as he looks to continue his impressive club form. George Furbank is noticeably absent from the squad after picking up a slight calf injury in England’s 33-31 loss to France. International teammates Alex Mitchell and Tommy Freeman have been rested for the occasion, whilst Fraser Dingwall makes the bench.

Bristol Bears welcome back just the one international for their return, with England powerhouse Ellis Genge expected to make an large impact from the bench.

USA international and former Sale Shark, AG MacGinty will be pulling the strings at flyhalf for the Bears as he looks to upset top of the table Northampton. The experience of MacGinty against the emerging talents of Smith will provide a fascinating battle as the playmakers look to give their sides the tactical advantage.

Northampton Saints Matchday Squad

15 George Hendy
14 James Ramm
13 Burger Odendaal
12 Rory Hutchinson
11 Ollie Sleightholme
10 Fin Smith
9 Archie McParland

1 Emmanuel Iyogun
2 Sam Matavesi
3 Trevor Davison
4 Temo Mayanavanua
5 Alex Coles
6 Courtney Lawes
7 Lewis Ludlam (c)
8 Sam Graham

Replacements:
16 Curtis Langdon
17 Alex Waller
18 Paul Hill
19 Tom Lockett
20 Juarno Augustus
21 Jake Garside
22 Fraser Dingwall
23 Tom Litchfield

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Not available for selection:
Callum Braley, George Furbank, Tom James, Elliot Millar Mills and Tom Seabrook.

Bristol Bears matchday Squad

15. Noah Heward (17 apps), 14. Gabriel Ibitoye (35 apps), 13. Benhard Janse van Rensburg (19 apps), 12. James Williams (36 apps), 11. Siva Naulago (29 apps), 10. AJ MacGinty (32 apps), 9. Harry Randall (120 apps); 1. Yann Thomas (111 apps), 2. Gabriel Oghre (11 apps), 3. Kyle Sinckler (55 apps), 4. James Dun (28 apps), 5. Joe Batley (58 apps), 6. Steven Luatua (124 apps), 7. Fitz Harding (c) (66 apps), 8. Magnus Bradbury (39 apps).

Replacements | 16. Fred Davies (12 apps), 17. Ellis Genge (38 apps), 18. Max Lahiff (81 apps), 19. Joe Owen (11 apps), 20. Jake Heenan (105 apps), 21. Kieran Marmion (18 apps), 22. Kalaveti Ravouvou (7 apps), 23. Max Malins (28 apps).
Unavailable: Jake Woolmore, Harry Thacker, Will Capon, Josh Caulfield, Chris Vui, Santiago Grondona, Callum Sheedy, Virimi Vakatawa, Joe Jenkins.

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