Preview: Saracens v Gloucester

Date published: September 13 2013

Saracens return to Allianz Park on Sunday when Gloucester are the visitors in the final game of the second round of the Premiership.

Saracens will return to Allianz Park on Sunday when Gloucester are the visitors in the final fixture of the second round of the Premiership.

The will do it without England centre Brad Barritt however, with Duncan Taylor starting at inside centre in the only change to their starting XV.

And fresh from the opening round bonus-point victory against London Irish last weekend, boss Mark McCall explained the players are looking forward to running out at Allianz Park again.

“The players love running out to a packed stadium at Allianz Park. It's a fantastic venue and we can't wait for Sunday's game. We got off to a winning start against London Irish last weekend and we were pleased with the result, but we know that we can improve on our performance and that is our challenge against a very talented Gloucester squad,” he said.

Meanwhile, Welsh international scrum half Tavis Knoyle will make his first Aviva Premiership start for Gloucester in Sunday's mouth-watering fixture at Allianz Park.

Knoyle, who joined Gloucester in the off-season from the Scarlets, was a second half replacement against Sale Sharks last weekend and is now set for his first start, partnering Freddie Burns at half-back. Burns will make his 100th competitive appearance for the club.

Also coming into the starting line-up is Fijian international flanker Akapusi Qera, as Director of Rugby Nigel Davies shuffles his back-row.

Matt Kvesic moves from openside to blindside to accommodate Qera, while Sione Kalamafoni takes over from Ben Morgan at eight, with Morgan named on the bench.

With those exceptions, it's the same starting line up that took the field against Sale Sharks last weekend and, previewing the game with the media this week, Nigel Davies stressed that he's looking for a reaction at Allianz Park.

“We've made one or two changes but, in the main, it's up to the guys to redeem themselves really,” he said.

“There's some technical stuff that we have to get right in terms of the set piece. And, when we get more ball, we can actually dictate for longer periods of the game.

“It may not be a huge tactical game. It may well come down to whoever wants it the most. It's the sort of thing that Saracens pride themselves on, in terms of dominating the opposition and being more physical.

“It's a great challenge, it's exactly what we want. Probably the best fixture we could have had.”

Form: Saracens were victorious 42-20 over London Irish at Twickenham on Saturday and have lost just one of their last nine regular season games in Aviva Premiership Rugby: 23-28 at Gloucester in April. Saracens only defeat so far at Allianz Park came in last season's semi-final to Northampton. Gloucester Rugby faltered in losing 16-22 to Sale at Kingsholm in round 1 but have not begun a Premiership campaign with two losses since season 2000/2001. Gloucester have lost their last four away games since beating Northampton 27-11 at Franklin's Gardens on 9th February. This is Gloucester's first visit to Allianz Park, whilst they have not won on Saracens' soil since a trip to Vicarage Road in November 2008.

The teams:

Saracens: 15 Chris Wyles, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Joel Tomkins, 12 Duncan Taylor, 11 David Strettle; 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Ernst Joubert, 7 Jacques Burger, 6 Billy Vunipola, 5 Alistair Hargreaves, 4 Steve Borthwick (c), 3 Matt Stevens, 2 Jamie George, 1 Rhys Gill.
Replacements: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 James Johnston, 19 Mouritz Botha, 20 Jackson Wray, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Nils Mordt, 23 Ben Ransom.

Gloucester: 15 Rob Cook, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Henry Trinder, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 James Simpson-Daniel, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Tavis Knoyle, 8 Sione Kalamafoni, 7 Akapusi Qera, 6 Matt Kvesic, 5 Lua Lokotui, 4 Tom Savage (capt), 3 Rupert Harden, 2 Darren Dawidiuk, 1 Nick Wood.
Replacements: 16 Koree Britton, 17 Dan Murphy, 18 Yann Thomas, 19 Elliott Stooke, 20 Ben Morgan, 21 Dan Robson, 22 Mike Tindall, 23 Martyn Thomas.

Date: Sunday, September 15
Kick-off: 14:00 BST
Venue: Allianz Park
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant referees: Paul Dix, Robin Goodliffe
Timekeeper: John Burtenshaw
Television match official: Trevor Fisher
Assessor: Paul Bridgman