Preview: Saracens v Harlequins

Date published: April 15 2016

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Saracens will be skippered by England man Mako Vunipola in the club’s 13th game at Wembley Stadium since 2009 against Harlequins.

Vunipola will captain the side from loosehead prop and will join Schalk Brits (hooker) and Petrus Du Plessis (tighthead prop) in the Saracens front row.

Jim Hamilton returns for Saracens at lock, rotating with Maro Itoje and the former Scotland international will pack down alongside England Grand Slam winning second rower, George Kruis. Alistair Hargreaves misses out with a slight knock whilst Hayden Smith takes his place amongst the replacements.

In the back row, Billy Vunipola is named at number eight with Jackson Wary (openside flanker) and Michael Rhodes (blindside flanker) taking their place in the Sarries loose-forward trio.

In the halves, after a spell on the sidelines Saracens welcome back Charlie Hodgson at fly-half, with Owen Farrell named on the bench. At scrum-half, Neil De Kock comes in for Richard Wigglesworth.

In the backs, Duncan Taylor moves to inside centre with Marcelo Bosch starting in the number 13 jersey. Alex Goode (full-back), Chris Wyles (left wing) and Chris Ashton (right wing) make up the Sarries back three.

Meanwhile, there are four changes to the Harlequins starting team that beat London Irish in the Challenge Cup quarter-final last week.

Joe Marchant returns to the starting line-up amongst an otherwise unchanged backline.

Among the forwards Will Collier starts in the front row, with Charlie Matthews named in the second row alongside Sam Twomey. Nick Easter returns to the back row and partners Chris Robshaw and Jack Clifford.

Among the replacements, Mat Luamanu provides cover for the back row, with Matt Hopper returning to the bench.

Luke Wallace (concussion), George Lowe (hip), James Horwill (leg), Nick Evans (leg), Joe Marler (suspension) and Winston Stanley (leg) amongst others, will all be available for selection for next weekend’s Challenge Cup semi-final against Grenoble.

Form: Saturday will be Saracens 13th visit to Wembley, and they've only lost at the ground three times – to Leinster, Toulouse, and to Harlequins in 2012. That 24-19 victory was Harlequins sole win at the venue having met Saracens there four times. They go into the game having won just three of their last ten Premiership Rugby fixtures, all at the Twickenham Stoop, and have not won away since beating Worcester Warriors at Sixways on January 3. A win would see them complete their first Premiership double over Saracens since 2008/09 following their 29-23 success at the Twickenham Stoop in round nine, also in January.

The teams:

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Duncan Taylor, 11 Chris Wyles, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Neil de Kock, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Jackson Wray, 6 Michael Rhodes, 5 George Kruis,4 Jim Hamilton, 3 Petrus Du Plessis, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Mako Vunipola (c)
Replacements: 16 Jared Saunders, 17 Richard Barrington, 18 Titi Lamositele, 19 Hayden Smith, 20 Samu Vunisa, 21 Richard Wigglesworth, 22 Owen Farrell, 23 Nick Tompkins

Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Marland Yarde, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Ben Botica, 9 Danny Care (c), 8 Nick Easter, 7 Jack Clifford, 6 Chris Robshaw, 5 Sam Twomey, 4 Charlie Matthews, 3 Will Collier, 2 Joe Gray, 1 Mark Lambert
Replacements: 16 Dave Ward, 17 Owen Evans, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 George Merrick, 20 Mat Luamanu, 21 Karl Dickson, 22 Matt Hopper, 23 Ross Chisholm

Date: Saturday, April 16
Venue: Wembley Stadium
Kick-off: 15:15 local (14:15 GMT)
Referee: Gregory Garner
Assistant Referees: Andrew Jackson, Andy Watson
TMO: Geoffrey Warren

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