Preview: Saracens v London Irish

Date published: December 2 2011

Saracens have made a handful of changes to their starting line-up for Sunday's Aviva Premiership clash with London Irish.

Saracens have brought Adam Powell, Matt Stevens, Joe Maddock and Jackson Wray into their starting line-up for Sunday's Aviva Premiership clash with London Irish.

Brad Barritt misses the game with a calf injury while Charlie Hodgson (knee) also misses out. Wray and Kelly Brown swap places on the bench as do Stevens and Rhys Gill.

“Under the guidance of Toby Booth and Mike Catt, the Exiles have shown once again this season that they are a dangerous side with talented players across the pitch and we must be at our best – but we are really looking forward to it after an excellent week of preparation,” said Sarries Director of Rugby Mark McCall.

Meanwhile, London Irish have made four changes to the side that beat London Wasps last Saturday.

Alex Corbisiero and Paulica Ion will join James Buckland in the front row. Chris Hala'ufia comes into the back row in place of Jebb Sinclair. Dan Bowden will partner Paul Hodgson at fly-half and also captain the side.

“We are under no illusions of the task ahead of us this Sunday,” said London Irish head coach Toby Booth.

“We will approach it as we do all other games. It is important to put in a positive performance, make the most of every opportunity and put in 100 percent effort for 80 minutes.”

Form: Saracens have slipped to successive defeats to Biarritz in the European Cup and Northampton in Aviva Premiership Rugby, but have not lost three in a row since the 2009/10 season. Sarries have won their last eleven games at Vicarage Road in all competitions since Clermont Auvergne won there in the Heineken Cup on 21 January. London Irish have lost just one of their last four Premiership matches: 12-13 at home to Bath on 29 October. The Exiles have not been victorious away from home since a trip to Northampton on 17 September. London Irish have lost on their last four visits to Vicarage Road since their 20-19 win there in the Premiership on 27 December 2005.

Rugby Union betting odds

The teams:

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Joe Maddock, 13 Chris Wyles, 12 Adam Powell, 11 James Short, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Ben Spencer, 8 Ernst Joubert, 7 Andy Saull, 6 Jackson Wray, 5 Mouritz Botha, 4 Steve Borthwick (c), 3 Carlos Nieto, 2 John Smit, 1 Matt Stevens.
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Rhys Gill, 18 Petrus du Plessis, 19 George Kruis, 20 Kelly Brown, 21 Luke Baldwin, 22 Duncan Taylor, 23 David Strettle.

London Irish: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Topsy Ojo, 13 Joe Ansbro, 12 Jonathan Spratt, 11 Adam Thompstone, 10 Dan Bowden (Captain), 9 Paul Hodgson, 8 Chris Hala'ufia 7 Jamie Gibson, 6 Declan Danaher, 5 Matt Garvey, 4 Nick Kennedy, 3 Paulica Ion, 2 James Buckland, 1 Alex Corbisiero.
Replacements: 16 David Paice, 17 Clarke Dermody, 18 Faan Rautenbach, 19 Bryn Evans, 20 Ofisa Treviranus, 21 Guy Armitage, 22 Adrian Jarvis, 23 Darren Allinson

Date: Sunday, December 4
Venue: Vicarage Road
Kick-off: 14.00
Referee: Andrew Small