Planet Rugby

Preview: Harlequins v Saracens

06th May 2011 11:28

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David Strettle Saracens Harlequins 2010

Out wide for Sarries: David Strettle

Saracens head to Harlequins with a home semi-final already secured and are looking to extend a winning run of ten matches in all competitions.

In team news ahead of the game, Hayden Smith and Mouritz Botha form the second-row partnership with club captain Steve Borthwick named on the bench for this week's game.

Aviva Premiership Player of the Year nominee Schalk Brits continues at hooker while Land Rover Discovery of the Season contender Owen Farrell starts at fly-half. Saracens player of the Year Jacques Burger starts in the back-row alongside Andy Saull and Ernst Joubert.

Meanwhile, Harlequins are looking to build on their historic victory against Munster in the Amlin Challenge Cup last week.

Quins are fighting for a potential top six spot and a place in the Heineken Cup next season. Saturday's hosts currently sit in seventh place in the standings, just 3 points off local rivals London Irish.

It will be an emotional occasion for some as Ceri Jones, who has been a faithful servant to the side for eight years says his farewell. Other goodbyes go to Gonzalo Camacho, John Andress, Dave Moore, James Percival and Lewis Stevenson.

There are a handful of changes to the side that was named last week against Munster.

Joe Gray and Joe Marler picked up knocks last week from which they haven't recovered so there are two changes in the front row, with Ceri Jones and Matt Cairns starting alongside James Johnston.

Fly-half Nick Evans is sidelined with an ankle injury so Rory Clegg takes up the reigns in the number ten shirt. Danny Care continues at scrum-half, with Ugo Monye and Gonzalo Camacho on the wings. Mike Brown starts at full-back.

New faces on the bench include Rob Buchanan, John Andress, Pete Browne, Luke Wallace and Ben Urdapilleta, with Will Skinner and Tomas Vallejos also missing.

Form: Saracens have won their last three encounters with Harlequins and have also won on three of their last four visits to the Twickenham Stoop. Harlequins have reached the final of the European Challenge Cup following their superb victory in Munster on Saturday, and have now won three of their last four matches in all competitions. Saracens have already secured a home Aviva Premiership Rugby semi-final spot, and have won their last ten matches in all competitions, the club's best run in competitive rugby since season 1988/89.

The teams:

Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Gonzalo Camacho, 13 George Lowe, 12 Jordan Turner-Hall, 11 Ugo Monye, 10 Rory Clegg, 9 Danny Care, 8 Nick Easter, 7 Chris Robshaw (capt), 6 Maurie Fa'asavalu, 5 George Robson, 4 Ollie Kohn, 3 James Johnston, 2 Matt Cairns, 1 Ceri Jones.
Replacements: 16 Rob Buchanan, 17 Mark Lambert, 18 John Andress, 19 Pete Browne, 20 Luke Wallace, 21 Dave Moore, 22 Ben Urdapilleta, 23 Ross Chisholm.

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 David Strettle, 13 Chris Wyles, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 James Short, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Neil de Kock, 8 Ernst Joubert (capt), 7 Andy Saull, 6 Jacques Burger, 5 Mouritz Botha, 4 Hayden Smith, 3 Carlos Nieto, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Matt Stevens.
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Rhys Gill, 18 Petrus du Plessis, 19 Steve Borthwick, 20 Justin Melck, 21 Richard Wigglesworth, 22 Nils Mordt, 23 Noah Cato.

Date: Saturday, May 7
Kick-off: 15:00 BST
Venue: Twickenham Stoop
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth

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PosTeamPPts
1Saracens1976
2Northampton1966
3Leicester Tigers1963
4Bath1959
5Harlequins1954