Saints duo set to feature for England A against Portugal

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Tom Pearson and Tarek Haffar are set to feature for England A in their clash with Portugal at Mattioli Woods Welford Road on Sunday.

Pearson, who has dropped down from England’s Guinness Six Nations squad, has been named as part of a back row that also includes Guy Pepper and Alfie Barbeary.

Loosehead prop Haffar is on the bench, but there is no place in the 23 for in-form wing Ollie Sleightholme.

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England A, whose attack is led by Saints head coach Sam Vesty, will run out at the home of Leicester Tigers for the side’s first clash since 2016.

Tom Pearson (photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)Tom Pearson (photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
Tom Pearson (photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

And England A head coach George Skivington said: “It’s been great to get together with the group this week at Loughborough and I’ve been really impressed by the high standards they’ve shown.

"We’ve put the boys through a challenging programme that has tested them to the intense rigor that Portugal will arrive with on Sunday.

“Our visitors are in the midst of the Rugby Europe Championship and will no doubt be using Sunday as an opportunity to experiment, but their strength as a union has been evident recently. They will certainly provide a stern test for us, but it’s a test that the players, Dom (Waldouck), Sam and I are relishing.

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"I am really excited to see the side take to the field against Portugal on Sunday.

"I really believe we have assembled a squad that possesses some of the most exciting developing talent the Gallagher Premiership has to offer, and I’m sure they’ll put on a show for the fans in Leicester.”

Sunday's game will kick off at 1pm and will be streamed live on England Rugby social media channels.

England A team to face Portugal: 15 Josh Hodge (Exeter Chiefs); 14 Cadan Murley (Harlequins), 13 Oscar Beard (Harlequins), 12 Max Ojomoh (Bath), 11 Will Muir (Bath); 10 Charlie Atkinson (Gloucester), 9 Harry Randall (Bristol Bears); 1 Fin Baxter (Harlequins), 2 Jamie Blamire (Newcastle Falcons), 3 Joe Heyes (Leicester Tigers); 4 Rusiate Tuima (Exeter Chiefs); 5 Charlie Ewels (c) (Bath); 6 Tom Pearson (Saints), 7 Guy Pepper (Newcastle Falcons), 8 Alfie Barbeary (Bath).

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Replacements: 16 Sam Riley (Harlequins), 17 Tarek Haffar (Saints), 18 Josh Iosefa-Scott (Exeter Chiefs), 19 Ben Bamber (Sale Sharks), 20 Greg Fisilau (Exeter Chiefs), 21 Caolan Englefield (Gloucester), 22 Jamie Shillcock (Leicester Tigers), 23 Oliver Hartley (Saracens).