Preview: Leicester v Saracens

Date published: March 18 2016

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Owen Williams returns to the Leicester Tigers line-up for Sunday's Aviva Premiership Round 17 match against league leaders Saracens.

Williams has made two appearances as a replacement since his recovery from a broken jaw and will start at centre alongside Peter Betham this weekend.

Tommy Bell is at full-back with Mathew Tait ruled out after suffering concussion at Wasps last weekend in the only other change to the backline.

Graham Kitchener comes into the second row alongside Dom Barrow, with Mike Fitzgerald moving to the back row and the team will be led by Jordan Crane who starts at No8 in place of the injured Ed Slater.

Greg Bateman and Opeti Fonua have recovered from injury and are named among the replacements.

Kick-off on Sunday will follow a Minute's Applause in memory of former Tigers centre/wing Seru Rabeni who died in Fiji this week at the age of 37. A tribute will also be shown on the big screens in the stadium.

Meanwhile, Schalk Brits returns for Saracens as they travel to Welford Road to face Leicester Tigers on Sunday.

The South African hooker is back in the side after serving a three-week suspension and will join Richard Barrington (loosehead) and Juan Figallo (tighthead) in the Sarries front row,.

Brits will also line-up alongside fellow former Springbok international Alistair Hargreaves, with the second row forward returning to the starting line-up take his place alongside Jim Hamilton at lock.

In the back row, Kelly Brown comes in at openside flanker to join Michael Rhodes (blindside flanker) and Jackson Wray (number eight).

In the backs, Alex Goode will return from Paris to start at full-back, and will join Mike Ellery and Chris Wyles in the Sarries back three.

At centre, Marcelo Bosch recovers from the illness that saw the Argentine as a late withdrawal from Saracens win over London Irish in New Jersey and is joined by Brad Barritt in midfield.

The evergreen Neil de Kock comes in at scrum-half and will join fly-half Nils Mordt in the halves.

Form: Leicester Tigers last four matches have all been won by the home side on the day, whilst the Tigers solitary defat at Welford Road in any tournament in the last twelve months was 3-10 to Sale on February 6. Saracens have perhaps surprisingly picked up two more league points on their travels this season than they have at home. Sarries only defeat in the last four rounds of Premiership Rugby was 15-20 at home to Northampton in Round 15. The Tigers only victory over Saracens in their last eight encounters in all competitions was 31-27 in round 22 in season 2013/14.  Saracens have won just once at Welford Road since September 2011: 32-27 in February 2013.

The teams: 

Leicester: 15 Tommy Bell, 14 Adam Thompstone, 13 Peter Betham, 12 Owen Williams, 11 Vereniki Goneva, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Jono Kitto, 8 Jordan Crane (c), 7 Lachlan McCaffrey, 6 Mike Fitzgerald, 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 Dom Barrow, 3 Logovi'i Mulipola, 2 Harry Thacker, 1 Marcos Ayerza
Replacements: 
16 Greg Bateman, 17 Ellis Genge, 18 Fraser Balmain, 19 Tom Croft, 20 Opeti Fonua, 21 Sam Harrison, 22 Matt Smith, 23 Telusa Veainu 

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Mike Ellery, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Brad Barritt (c), 11 Chris Wyles, 10 Nils Mordt, 9 Neil de Kock, 8 Jackson Wray, 7 Kelly Brown, 6 Michael Rhodes, 5 Alistair Hargreaves, 4 Jim Hamilton, 3 Juan Figallo, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Richard Barrington
Replacements: 16 Dave Porecki, 17 Titi Lamositele, 18 Petrus Du Plessis, 19 Hayden Smith, 20 Will Fraser, 21 Richard Wigglesworth, 22 Nick Tompkins, 23 Ben Ransom

Date: Sunday, March 20
Venue: Welford Road
Kick-off: 15:15 GMT
Referee: JP Doyle
Assistant Referees: Roger Baileff, Robin Goodliffe
TMO: David Sainsbury

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