These East Midlands rivals are struggling for form but one stands to stop the rot today
Dream start: Saints’ Matt Proctor bagged a try double on his Premiership debut v Tigers last year (Getty)
Thank heavens for London Irish, these two Midlands giants might say, because that’s the only side either has managed to beat in six matches apiece since the Gallagher Premiership resumed in mid-August.
The slumps have seen Saints slither to seventh in the table, out of contention for the play-off spot that had looked theirs for the taking earlier in the year, and Tigers stay rooted to 11th position. Had Saracens not incurred a second points penalty for salary cap breaches, Leicester would be bottom and staring relegation in the face.
Both teams fielded understrength sides in midweek and copped a hefty defeat. Leicester started well at Wasps but ultimately crashed 54-7 – their heaviest Premiership defeat. “Hugely disappointing, we didn’t show any fight,” said DoR Geordan Murphy after his team had conceded eight tries and 24 clean breaks.
If the stats are correct, Northampton conceded an astonishing 42 clean breaks whilst going down 47-10 at Bristol. “The floodgates opened,” said DoR Chris Boyd.
The good news is that one of the teams will stop the rot this afternoon (2pm). Both restore their front-liners for the big derby, although England fly-half George Ford is again missing for Tigers after picking up a leg injury.
Ben Youngs makes his 250th club appearance (and his 200th start), while there’s a debut for Kini Murimurivalu on the wing. He joined up with the squad this week after completing two weeks’ quarantine and will have fellow Fiji international Nemani Nadolo for company in the back three.
Head coach Steve Borthwick said: “It will be great to see Kini in a Leicester shirt as part of an exciting back three with Nemani and Freddie Steward, a Tigers academy graduate who has done exceptionally well since the season resumed.
“George Ford has taken a knock so is not available for selection. Zack Henry has been developing his experience at fly-half in Premiership rugby and this is another fantastic opportunity for him.
“The great thing is we’ve got a challenge against Northampton to look forward to – after a game like Wednesday night, you want to move on very quickly.”
Saints have won on their previous three visits to Welford Road in all competitions, an unprecedented sequence in 125 years of visiting the stadium. There are three changes to the starting XV from the Exeter match last week, with wing Taqele Naiyaravoro, scrum-half Alex Mitchell and flanker Lewis Ludlam the men to come in.
Naiyaravoro was Man of the Match when the sides met last November, Matt Proctor scoring two tries on his league debut in a 36-13 win. Watch highlights of that encounter here.
Leicester: Freddie Steward; Kini Murimurivalu, Guy Porter, Matt Scott, Nemani Nadolo; Zack Henry, Ben Youngs; Facundo Gigena, Tom Youngs (capt), Dan Cole, Tomás Lavanini, Calum Green, Harry Wells, Luke Wallace, Hanro Liebenberg.
Replacements: 16 Charlie Clare, 17 Ellis Genge, 18 Nephi Leatigaga, 19 Thom Smith, 20 Jordan Taufua, 21 Ben White, 22 Johnny McPhillips, 23 Harry Potter.
Northampton: George Furbank; Ahsee Tuala, Matt Proctor, Rory Hutchinson, Taqele Naiyaravoro; Dan Biggar, Alex Mitchell; Francois van Wyk, James Fish, Owen Franks, David Ribbans, Api Ratuniyarawa, Courtney Lawes, Lewis Ludlam, Teimana Harrison (capt).
Replacements: 16 Mike Haywood, 17 Emmanuel Iyogun, 18 Paul Hill, 19 Alex Moon, 20 Nick Isiekwe, 21 JJ Tonks, 22 Henry Taylor, 23 Fraser Dingwall.
If you’re abroad, but still want to watch your local Premiership coverage, like Leicester v Northampton today, you can do so by using a VPN – Virtual Private Network.
VPNs allow you to get around any geo-blocking by changing your IP address so you appear in a different location and can watch the same legal Premiership live stream you would at home.
Our friends at TechRadar have tested hundreds of VPN and recommend ExpressVPN, which is easy to use, has strong security features and allows you to watch on several devices at once, including smart TVs and phones, iPads, tablets, PCs and Macs.
Plus, ExpressVPN comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee. You can try it out for a month for free or sign up for an annual plan and get three months free.
Leicester v Northampton, which kicks off at 2pm today, will be shown live on BT Sport 1 in the UK. If you don’t have a BT contract but want to watch the match, don’t worry because you can still easily watch it online.
That’s because BT Sport has a contract-free monthly pass that allows you to get instant access to all four of their sport channels for just £25.
That’s great value given they’re showing every Premiership game played behind closed doors live and will also be covering the European Champions and Challenge Cup knockout stages in September and October. Plus, you can cancel at any time because there’s no contract.
Clubs are also working with BT Sport to allow season ticket-holders free access to home games on the channel’s app.
If you’re from the UK but are overseas when Leicester v Northampton takes place, you can get your normal live stream but you’ll need a VPN – see the information above.
If you live in the States, the official broadcaster of Premiership matches is NBC, with matches streamed on NBC Sports Gold so you can watch them anytime and anywhere.
The NBC Sports Gold Pass for rugby is $79.99 and includes coverage of the Gallagher Premiership, European Champions and Challenge Cups, and Guinness Six Nations.
It’s little wonder that Sky Sport NZ, with ten sports channels, including one dedicated to rugby, is the rights-holder for Premiership matches in New Zealand.
If you want to tune in to Leicester v Northampton from the Land of the Long White Cloud, the match kicks off at 1am on Monday morning on Sky Sport Select.
It costs $31.99 a month to add Sky Sport to your Sky Starter pack ($25.99), but if you sign up for 12 months before 30 September 2020 you’ll get your first month free. Plus, you’ll get Sky Go, which allows you to watch live rugby wherever you are.
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Premiership Rugby, Leicester Tigers, Northampton Saints, Ben Youngs, Rugby union, Welford Road Stadium
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