Planet Rugby

Preview: Harlequins v Saracens

18th September 2009 13:01

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Brendon Venter serious

Brendon Venter: Going for three out of three

Saracens will look to make it three wins from three in the Guinness Premiership when they travel to Harlequins on Saturday.

Director of Rugby Brendan Venter has made three changes to his side, bringing in Tom Ryder, Michael Owen and Derick Hougaard to the starting line-up for the game at the Stoop.

Welsh international Owen replaces Wikus van Heerden who has returned to South Africa for a family commitment while Ryder comes in for Hugh Vyvyan. Hougaard is given a full debut ahead of Glen Jackson. Vyvyan and Jackson both take a place on the bench.

Venter said: "It was always our intention to make changes for this game and utilise the full depth of the squad. It's not a reflection of individual performances, far from it.

"We just need to make sure we fully use our resources and keep everyone as fresh as possible for the season ahead. It does show that we have a very strong squad when we can bring in the likes of Michael and Derick to the side and as I have said many times before, we don't have a first team and a second team at this club, we have a squad.

"Harlequins are a very good side who are very well coached by John Kingston and their performances in the opening two games don't reflect the results. It's going to be a very tough game."

Meanwhile, after a hard fought battle against Leicester Tigers at the Stoop, Quins return to their home ground for the second time in two weeks.

With two wins already under their belts, both away from Vicarage Road, Saracens will be a tough side to beat but, on home soil, so are Quins.

The starting XV will see only one change to the side that took on Leicester last Saturday. Steve So'oialo will start at scrum-half, with Gareth Williams coming on to the bench. After impressing in their Guinness Premiership debuts, both Lewis Stevenson and George Lowe retain their places.

Quins' new summer signing, Josh Drauniniu, takes his place on the Quins bench for his first Guinness Premiership game.

Form: Harlequins have recorded just one victory from their last six matches in all competitions: 31-12 at home to Newcastle Falcons in the Guinness Premiership on 25 April. Saracens have begun the 2009/10 campaign with back to back victories but have not started a Premiership season with three straight wins since way back in 1998/99. Brendan Venter has won his last four games in the Premiership as a head coach, having also won his last two matches in charge at London Irish at the end of the 2002/03 season. Harlequins have won their last three encounters with Saracens, but Sarries have been victorious in two of their last three visits to the Twickenham Stoop.

The teams:

Harlequins: 15 Ugo Monye, 14 David Strettle, 13 Tosh Masson, 12 Jordan Turner-Hall, 11 George Lowe, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Steve So'oialo, 8 Nick Easter, 7 Will Skinner (capt), 6 Chris Robshaw , 5 Jim Evans, 4 Lewis Stevenson, 3 Mark Lambert, 2 Gary Botha, 1 Ceri Jones.
Replacements: 16 Aston Croall, 17 Tani Fuga, 18 John Andress, 19 Tom Guest, 20 Neil McMillan, 21 Gareth Williams, 22 Rory Clegg, 23 Josh Drauniniu.

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Noah Cato, 13 Kameli Ratuvou, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 Chris Wyles, 10 Derick Hougaard, 9 Neil de Kock, 8 Ernst Joubert, 7 Andy Saull, 6 Michael Owen, 5 Tom Ryder, 4 Steve Borthwick (c), 3 Carlos Nieto, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Rhys Gill.
Replacements: 16 Fabio Ongaro, 17 Tom Mercey, 18 Richard Skuse, 19 Hugh Vyvyan, 20 Justin Melck, 21 Justin Marshall, 22 Glen Jackson, 23 Richard Haughton.

Date: Saturday, September 19
Venue: The Stoop
Kick-off: 15.00 BST
Referee: Chris White

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