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Mallinder trusts fringe men

Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder has challenged his second-string line-up to keep the Saints' play-off bid on track with victory over Gloucester on Tuesday night.

Mallinder has made 13 changes from Friday's win at Newcastle, with only Bruce Reihana and captain Callum Clarke asked to start both games. Gloucester are unbeaten at Kingsholm in 17 Premiership games but the Saints know a sixth straight victory would virtually secure them a semi-final place.

"We've made a few changes to the team that played at Kingston Park but we're able to bring in players who have a lot of Premiership experience and who have all been working hard in training to get a place in the first team," said Mallinder. "We will need to perform well if we want to bring anything home."

He added: "Gloucester showed plenty of character and quality in coming back to draw (against Leicester) at Welford Road on Saturday, and Kingsholm is always a difficult place to play."

The fixture has been re-arranged from Boxing Day and it is not ideal for either team to be playing three games in eight days so near to the end of the season.

Gloucester have also rung the changes following their epic 41-41 draw with the Tigers, with Dave Attwood, Freddie Burns, Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu and Jonny May the only players retained.

Boss Bryan Redpath has demanded a tighter defensive performance. Leicester gifted Gloucester a way back into the game from 14 points down and Redpath warned his men cannot expect Northampton to be so generous.

Redpath said: "This part of the season is about defensive discipline and against Leicester that wasn't good enough.

"We conceded soft tries and Leicester finished them well, but we aren't going to get the opportunities we had all the time."

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