Premiership: Leicester Tigers host Northampton Saints in semi-final
|Venue: Mattioli Woods Welford Road Date: Saturday, 11 June Kick-off: 16:30 BST Coverage: Updates on BBC local radio and live scores on the BBC Sport website|
Leicester Tigers captain Ellis Genge and fly-half George Ford will start their final home game at Welford Road against Northampton Saints in Saturday’s Premiership semi-final.
A Tigers win would give prop Genge, who is joining Bristol, and Sale-bound Ford a Twickenham farewell next week.
Juarno Augustus starts at number eight for Saints, one of four changes made by outgoing boss Chris Boyd.
Courtnall Skosan and props Emmanuel Iyogun and Ehren Painter also come in.
The winners will go on to face either Saracens or Harlequins in the final at Twickenham on 18 June.
On what will be an emotional day for Genge and Ford, there will also be a minute’s applause in memory of Tiffany Youngs, the wife of former Tigers skipper Tom, who passed away earlier this week.
Ben Youngs, Tiffany’s brother in-law, will start at scrum-half for Leicester.
Hooker Julian Montoya returns after a month out, while centre Dan Kelly starts in his first appearance since mid-April.
Tigers, who finished top of the table to reach their first semi-final for five years, are looking to reach the Premiership final for the first time in nine years.
‘Still early in Tigers’ journey’
Tigers head coach Steve Borthwick says there is “plenty for us to improve on”, having struggled at the bottom of the table in recent seasons.
“We’re still very early in the journey,” Borthwick told BBC Radio Leicester.
“You’re talking about a club here that very nearly got relegated two years ago – a club that wasn’t really respected, was losing most games and the only big games were relegation contests.
“To come back from that, every game is important, every week is important. Can we get better every week? And that’s the challenge again this week.
“One of the exciting things is there is so much more for us to do and so much more we as a coaching team and players can work towards here.
“The team has a lot of growth in it, it’s a young team, and it’s learning quickly from experiences.”
Saints ‘excited’ by semi-final derby
Northampton forwards coach Phil Dowson admits they have endured two “chastening experiences” against their East Midlands rivals so far this season – beaten 55-26 on home soil and 35-20 at Leicester.
But Saints secured a play-off spot on the back of six victories in their last seven Premiership games.
“It feels pretty special,” said Dowson, who will succeed Chris Boyd as Saints’ rugby director this summer.
“We have worked hard to give ourselves an opportunity in a semi-final, and it’s exciting.
“We have taken a hiding twice (against Leicester), and they have been chastening experiences, particularly in a local derby.
“We have to learn our lessons from that and it is clear for us in terms of getting our game on the field and dealing with their very aggressive and dominant performances.
“How we manage to get ourselves into the game is integral to the success of our game-plan. We have to be physical and we have to be disciplined.”
- Leicester Tigers have won three of their last four Premiership matches against Northampton Saints (L1) after winning just one of the previous five (L4); however, three of their last four defeats against Northampton have come at home.
- The Tigers won their only previous home tie against Saints in the semi-finals of the Premiership (11-3 in May 2011).
- Leicester have lost their last four matches in the Premiership play-offs, but each of those losses came away from home; they have won all seven of their previous home semi-final ties, without conceding over 16 points on any occasion.
- Northampton have lost their last two matches in the play-offs after winning three of their previous four (L1); they have won just one of their previous six semi-final ties away from home (v Saracens, 2012-13).
- No player has averaged more points per 80 minutes than Northampton’s Dan Biggar (12.3) or Leicester’s George Ford (12.0), of players to feature for at least 600 minutes in the Premiership this season.
Leicester Tigers: Steward; Potter, Moroni, Kelly, Porter; Ford, Youngs; Genge (c), Montoya, Cole; Wells, Green, Liebenberg, Reffell, Wiese.
Replacements: Clare, Leatigaga, Heyes, Chessum, Martin, Van Poortvliet, Burns, Nadolo.
Northampton Saints: Freeman; Proctor, Dingwall, Hutchinson, Skosan; Biggar, Mitchell; Iyogun, Matavesi, Painter; Coles, Ratuniyarawa, Lawes, Ludlam (c), Augustus.
Replacements: Haywood, Waller, Heffernan, Ribbans, Hinkley, James, Grayson, Francis.
Referee: Matthew Carley.