Preview: Saracens v Gloucester

Date published: November 25 2016

Saracens have named a strong starting line-up to face Gloucester in Sunday’s Premiership clash at Allianz Park.

Alex Goode will line-up at full-back for Saracens after his release from England camp. The 28-year old will be joined by Mike Ellery (right wing) and Chris Wyles (left wing) in the Sarries back three. At centre, skipper Brad Barritt continues at inside centre alongside Marcelo Bosch.

In the halves, Alex Lozowski is named at fly-half with Richard Wigglesworth starting at scrum-half.

Up front, Sarries’ director of rugby, Mark McCall, makes one change to the starting pack from Saracens’ round eight win against Sale Sharks with Petrus Du Plessis coming into the run-on side at tighthead prop joining Richard Barrington (loosehead prop) and Schalk Brits (hooker).

Michael Rhodes continue at lock and is joined by Jim Hamilton in the second row. Kelly Brown is named at blindside flanker, with Schalk Burger (openside flanker) and Jackson Wray (number eight) also starting.

Speaking ahead of the game McCall said: “The squad put in a great effort last week at the AJ Bell Stadium It was a hard-fought victory against a competitive Sale Sharks side and we were pleased with the result, but our focus this week though has been on Gloucester and nothing else.

“They are a good side, with talent throughout their squad and their performance last Saturday against a strong Wasps outfit underlined how dangerous a side they are.”

Meanwhile, Gloucester boss David Humphreys has named an unchanged run-on side following last weekend’s victory over Wasps. That 38-18 victory moved the Cherry and Whites up to ninth place in the table, and keeps them within touching distance of the top six.

As such, the only changes are amongst the replacements where Paul Doran-Jones and Billy Twelvetrees return in place of Yann Thomas and Mat Protheroe respectively.

Humphreys, previewing the game with the local media this week, admitted that Sunday’s game at the league leaders will require Gloucester to up their game even more from the levels produced against Wasps.

“Last week was a big step up for us in terms of getting all parts of the game at a level that you need to win against one of the very good teams,” he said.

“As we’ve said, we haven’t felt we’ve been far away. As we explained last week, part of the break during the Anglo-Welsh Cup allowed us really to focus on two or three key things that we thought would make the difference between turning those narrow defeats into good victories.

“And I thought last weekend that our set-piece was good, we managed field position very well and, as we always do, we defended brilliantly. We’re a hard team to play against.

“But, as much as we enjoyed that Wasps victory, the focus very quickly turned to the challenge that Saracens will pose, undoubtedly the best team in Europe.”

Form: Saracens have lost just one of their last fifteen Premiership matches – 10-17 to Harlequins at Twickenham Stoop on 24 September. Sarries have won their last eleven home games in all competitions since Northampton beat them at Allianz Park in the Premiership last March. Gloucester’s 36-18 victory at home to Wasps on Saturday ended a four game winless streak in the Premiership and also doubled their tally of wins in the tournament this season. Gloucester’s only away victory in the Premiership so far this campaign was 26-13 at Sale in Round 3. The two sides have already met in the Anglo-Welsh Cup this season with Gloucester securing a 36-32 victory at Kingsholm on 5 November. Gloucester have not beaten Saracens in their own backyard since a trip to Vicarage Road in November 2008.

The teams:

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Mike Ellery, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Brad Barritt (c), 11 Chris Wyles, 10 Alex Lozowski, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Jackson Wray, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Kelly Brown, 5 Jim Hamilton, 4 Michael Rhodes, 3 Petrus Du Plessis, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Richard Barrington
Replacements: 16 Jared Saunders, 17 Titi Lamositele, 18 Juan Figallo, 19 Mark Flanagan, 20 Joel Conlon, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Nick Tompkins, 23 Andrew Fenby

Gloucester: 15 James Hook, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Matt Scott, 12 Mark Atkinson, 11 Henry Purdy, 10 Billy Burns, 9 Willi Heinz (c), 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Jacob Rowan, 6 Lewis Ludlow, 5 Mariano Galarza, 4 Tom Savage, 3 John Afoa, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Paddy McAllister
Replacements: 16 Motu Matu’u, 17 Josh Hohneck, 18 Paul Doran-Jones, 19 Joe Latta, 20 Matt Kvesic, 21 Callum Braley, 22 Billy Twelvetrees, 23 Ollie Thorley

Date: Sunday, November 27
Venue: Allianz Park
Kick-off: 13:00 GMT
Referee: Greg Macdonald
Assistant Referees: Phil Watters, Andy Watson
TMO: David Grashoff