Gallagher Premiership
Venue: Sandy Park Date: Saturday, 25 May Kick-off: 16:30 BST
Coverage: Commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC local radio, plus live score updates on the BBC Sport website and app

Northampton director of rugby Chris Boyd says his side can reverse last weekend’s loss at Exeter Chiefs as they return to Sandy Park for the Premiership semi-final.

Saints conceded six tries in a 40-21 defeat by the league leaders.

“It’s interesting this week as we’re playing the same opposition and the guys know what’s coming,” Boyd said.

“But we can make tweaks on how we came unstuck last week and how we can improve.”

Despite losing at Sandy Park, other results went his side’s way as they finished fourth on 56 points – the lowest total ever to make the Premiership’s post-season matches.

Despite Saints finishing ninth last year the New Zealander said he felt making the top four was a realistic ambition when he arrived in August.

“At the start of the year, when you looked around the room at the potential in the squad, making this stage was absolutely possible,” the 60-year-old added to BBC Radio Northampton.

“You don’t know when you’re next going to get back here, so this is definitely a huge opportunity. Yes, we’re still building as a squad, but let’s go full on at this game.”

For Exeter boss Rob Baxter the challenge is to ensure his relatively unchanged side keep their focus in a game they are favourites to win.

“It’s really about focusing on yourselves and the processes that have worked for you, and probably not getting frustrated because things won’t be exactly the same. They can’t be, rugby’s too complex a game,” he told BBC Sport.

“Probably the team that don’t get frustrated because things don’t quite go the way they want them to and can actually knuckle down and work across the 80 minutes will be the team who’ll come through.”


Having impressed in beating Northampton last Saturday, Exeter make just one change to their starting side, with winger Tom O’Flaherty preferred to Olly Woodburn, who drops out of the squad.

It means England and British and Irish Lions winger Jack Nowell continues at full-back, while prop Alex Hepburn, who was a late withdrawal last week, returns to the bench.

England captain Dylan Hartley is not fit enough to play, despite Boyd saying he had a chance after last week’s defeat.

All four of Boyd’s changes to his Northampton line-up come in the forwards as Francois van Wyk, James Fish, and Ehren Painter form a new-look front row.

Flanker James Gibson is replaced by Api Ratuniyarawa who starts in the second row, with Courtney Lawes moving back to the blindside.

Exeter: Nowell; Cuthbert, Slade, Devoto, O’Flaherty; Simmonds, White; Moon, Yeandle (capt), Williams, Dennis, Hill, Ewers, Armand, Kvesic

Replacements: Cowan-Dickie, Hepburn, Francis, Skinner, Simmonds, Maunder, Steenson, Hill

Northampton: Tuala; Collins, Hutchinson, Francis, Naiyaravoro; Biggar, Reinach; van Wyk, Fish, Painter, Moon, Ratuniyarawa, Lawes, Ludlam, Harrison (capt)

Replacements: Dawidiuk, Waller, Hill, Ribbans, Gibson, Wood, Mitchell, Burrell

Referee: Matthew Carley.