Saints axe Grayson

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The Independent Online

Northampton have dropped former England fly-half Paul Grayson for Sunday's Heineken Cup semi-final against Llanelli at the Madejski Stadium.

Grayson, Saints' quarter-final hero last month when his late penalty strike stung Wasps, is replaced by Ali Hepher.

Northampton boss John Steele has also juggled his back-row options, leaving out blindside flanker Don Mackinnon and selecting Tim Rodber at number six alongside Budge Pountney and Pat Lam.

Saints skipper Lam starts after recovering from the shoulder injury which sidelined him at Leicester a week ago, while Pountney's broken nose has also healed.

There is also good news for Northampton behind the scrum, where both full-back Nick Beal (hamstring) and centre Allan Bateman (ribs) have been passed fit.

The influential Bateman went off during the Wasps quarter-final, and Saints subsequently lost three successive Premiership matches.

Northampton are in their first European semi-final, and if they win, would become the third English side to reach a Heineken final after Leicester (1997) and Bath (1998).

Llanelli retain the side that conquered Cardiff in the quarter-finals three weeks ago.


Northampton: Beal; Moir, Bateman, Allen, Cohen; Hepher, Dawson; Pagel, Mendez, Stewart, Newman, Metcalfe, Rodber, Pountney, Lam (capt). Replacements: Malone, Northey, Grayson, Walter, Scelzo, Phillips, Mackinnon. Llanelli: Cardey; Proctor (capt), James, N Boobyer, Finau; S Jones, Moon; Booth, McBryde, Davies, Wyatt, Gillies, Easterby, I Boobyer, Quinnell. Replacements: Madden, Thomas, Cooper, I Jones, Peel, Horgan, M Jones.