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Saints can gain redemption as champions Exeter visit

Mallinder's sacking may have paved way for improved performance

Courtney Lawes returns for Northampton Saints
1 of 1

Premiership 
BT Sport 2, 3pm Saturday

Northampton have won just one of their last ten matches in all competitions and are smarting from back-to-back European defeats to the Ospreys, in the middle of which they sacked their director of rugby. 

So a visit from champions Exeter is probably the last thing they would have wished for.

Debate has raged over why Jim Mallinder was relieved of his duties and plenty of critics have said that others in his coaching entourage, particularly forwards coach Dorian West, should have gone too.

So it may well be that the Saints' sorry run is far from at an end and table-topping Exeter have been handed a perfect opportunity to cement their place.

But one criticism that can't be levelled at Northampton is the quality of their players, and the Saints' side is boosted by the return of England internationals Dylan Hartley and Courtney Lawes in the pack plus Luther Burrell in midfield.

It's a strong line-up for a club who give their all at home, and it would be no surprise to see a backlash from the Saints players.

They have suffered a heavy league defeat to Wasps at home, but other than that they have beaten Leicester, Bath and Harlequins while their defeat to Newcastle in their most recent Premiership outing at Franklin's Gardens came from a last-gasp conversion.

Exeter's two league defeats this season have come on the road, at Gloucester and Leicester, while their wins at Sale and Saracens most recently were by four and two points. Northampton can at the least stay within an eight-point handicap and are not without hope of victory.

Resurgent Wasps are eight-point favourites at home to highflying Gloucester among the other Premiership fixtures, while Newcastle take on Harlequins and Sale face Bath.

Recommendation
Northampton +8
2pts 10-11 BoyleSports, Coral, Ladbrokes


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It's a strong line-up for a club who give their all at home, and it would be no surprise to see a backlash from the Saints players
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