Preview: London Welsh v Saracens

Date published: May 15 2015

1022.6666666666666x767__origin__0x0_460716064

London Welsh have made four changes for Saturday's Round 22 Premiership fixture against Saracens at the Kassam Stadium.

Team captain Tom May brings the curtain down on his 17-year playing career, as he makes his final appearance before retiring.

All of London Welsh's changes come in the forwards. In the front-row, Eddie Aholelei and Jack Gilding come in for Nathan Trevett and Ben Cooper, who drop to the bench.

Josh McNally is set to make his first Premiership start after coming off the bench in the Exiles' last three matches. McNally partners Matt Corker in the second-row with Ben West moving to blindside flanker in place of Daniel Browne, who is named along the replacements.

The London Welsh starting XV contains 13 players committed to the club for next season's Championship campaign, along with six of the replacements.

Meanwhile, heading into a crunch weekend Saracens welcome back Owen Farrell into their starting line-up. The England fly-half starts alongside Neil de Kock in the half-backs.

Elsewhere, Chris Wyles continues at inside centre to partner Marcelo Bosch, with Brad Barritt ruled out of the game with a slight hamstring strain. David Strettle and Chris Ashton are named on the wing, with Alex Goode starting at full-back.

Up front, Schalk Brits returns to the Saracens starting line-up and will pack down alongside Mako Vunipola and Petrus du Plessis in the Saracens front-row.

Skipper Alistair Hargreaves comes back into the side after a spell on the sidelines and will partner George Kruis at lock. In the back-row, Billy Vunipola starts at number eight and he is joined by Jackson Wray and Jacques Burger.

Form: London Welsh have lost all 31 first team games they have played this season and have mustered one solitary league point in Aviva Premiership Rugby – a try bonus point at Bath in round 2. A maximum point victory may still not be enough for Saracens to make it into the top four if Tigers and Exeter do the same, but if their victory is large enough they are likely to overhaul Exeter on points difference. Saracens have lost their last three first team fixtures and have not lost four in a row since March 2010. Saracens have won their last five competitive fixtures against London Welsh since the Exiles 23-7 victory at Southgate in the old Division 2 in September 1987 in London Welsh’s first ever league game.

The teams:

London Welsh: 15 Seb Jewell, 14 Alan Awcock, 13 Nic Reynolds, 12 Tom May (c), 11 Chris Elder, 10 Olly Barkley, 9 Rob Lewis, 8 Opeti Fonua, 7 Darren Waters, 6 Ben West, 5 Matt Corker, 4 Josh McNally, 3 Jack Gilding, 2 Koree Britton, 1 Eddie Aholelei.
Replacements: 16 Nathan Morris, 17 Nathan Trevett, 18 Ben Cooper, 19 Daniel Browne, 20 Richard Thorpe, 21 Paul Rowley, 22 Will Robinson, 23 Seb Stegmann.

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Chris Wyles, 11 David Strettle, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Neil De Kock, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Jacques Burger, 6 Jackson Wray, 5 Alistair Hargreaves (c), 4 George Kruis, 3 Petrus Du Plessis, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Mako Vunipola.

Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Rhys Gill, 18 Juan Figallo, 19 Maro Itoje, 20 Kelly Brown, 21 Richard Wigglesworth, 22 Charlie Hodgson, 23 Duncan Taylor.

Date: Saturday, May 16
Kick-off: 15:30 BST, 14:30 GMT
Venue: Kassam Stadium
Referee: Luke Pearce
Assistant Referees: Darren Gamage, Nigel Carrick
TMO: Trevor Fisher

COMMENTS