Returning England stars will aim to get Northampton back on track

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Northampton welcome back Dylan Hartley and Courtney Lawes from England duty as they look to get their campaign back on track against Newcastle on Friday.

Saints, after a positive start to the season, have slipped to seventh in the Aviva Premiership standings after four successive defeats.

England captain Hartley and Lawes will go straight back into the side following the the autumn internationals and, with Rob Horne also returning from suspension, Saints will line up differently at Franklin’s Gardens on Friday.

Newcastle director of rugby Dean Richards, himself looking to arrest a run of four defeats in a row, said: “There are no easy games in the Aviva Premiership and Northampton will be another big challenge.

“They’ll be buoyed by the fact they’re getting the England captain back in Dylan Hartley and guys like Courtney Lawes.

“They’ll be a difficult nut to crack but we beat them down there last season, so it holds no fears for us in that sense.

Newcastle Falcons have hit a poor run of form
Newcastle Falcons have hit a poor run of form (Richard Sellers/PA)

“Defensively we have allowed ourselves to slip and in attack we’ve not been scoring the tries, so we just need to pick it up.”

Northampton will also be able to call on the returning Api Ratuniyarawa, Piers Francis and Ahsee Tuala from the bench but ninth-placed Newcastle will make a host of changes themselves.

Vereniki Goneva, Josh Matavesi, Chris Harris, Sonatane Takulua, Kyle Cooper, Calum Green and Gary Graham are all back in Richards’ starting XV.

Newcastle boss Dean Richards will also welcome back several internationals
Newcastle boss Dean Richards will also welcome back several internationals (Richard Sellers/PA)

Friday’s other game will see 11th-placed Worcester look to continue their recent revival against the side immediately above them, Sale, at Sixways. The Warriors have won their last two after losing their first seven Premiership games.

Hooker Jack Singleton told WarriorsTV: “I think it will be a great atmosphere. We are trying to look up the table rather than behind us.

“We just want to keep climbing. We knew the results would come if we stuck to our guns.”

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