Planet Rugby

Preview: Northampton v Saracens

13th November 2009 13:53


Juandre Kruger

Juandre Kruger: Back for the Saints

Saracens will look to make it two wins from two in the LV=Cup when they travel to Franklin's Gardens on Saturday to face Northampton Saints.

In team news ahead of the game, there are debuts for prop Kasiano Lealamanua and second row George Kruis while wing James Short makes his first full start after coming on as a second half replacement in the 30-22 win over Bath last weekend. England U20s hooker Jamie George is named on the bench and is also in line to make a first team debut.

Alex Goode is given a start at fly-half for the game with back row Don Barrell handed a first start of the season. Noah Cato, Carlos Nieto and Andy Saull come back into the starting line-up while Jackson Wray makes only his second start at number eight. Owen Farrell is also on the bench.

Saracens First Team Coach Mark McCall said: "We have said all along that every game is important and we are expecting this group of players to have the same intensity every week. Some players have been handed their first opportunity this week but it's a chance they deserve after excellent performances in the Saracens Storm. We've got a good mix of youth and experience for what will be a tough game against a very good Saints side."

Hayden Smith and Chris Wyles (USA), Matias Aguero and Fabio Ongaro (Italy) and Moses Rauluni (Fiji) are all on international duty. Adam Powell (hamstring), Tom Ryder (calf) and Justin Marshall (calf) miss out through injury.

The Saints got the first win of their campaign on the road at the Ospreys last week, but while Mallinder wants a second success, this time at home, he says that it will be a difficult task against Saracens.

The Londoners have yet to be beaten in England this season and the Saints boss says that they will be a tough proposition.

"Brendan Venter has put together a squad whose efficient style of rugby has taken them to the top of the Guinness Premiership table with seven wins out of seven," he said today. "Saracens know how to win games and with either Glen Jackson or Derick Hougaard at fly half they have players who will punish us if we concede penalties within kicking distance. They might be playing South Africa next week, but that doesn't mean that we will play a weak team tomorrow as they have plenty of strength in depth.

"However our players have been putting in plenty of hard work this week and have been enthusiastic in their preparations for the match. They want success and are determined for a positive result at Franklin's Gardens."

Juandre Kruger returns to the Saints line-up after his month on the sidelines, as does Santiago Bonorino, who starts his first game since the Heineken Cup trip to Perpignan.

Form: Northampton Saints have won their last nine home matches at Franklin's Gardens in all competitions, since Newcastle won there, 19-13, in the Premiership on 28 February. The Saints have suffered just one previous home defeat in the history of the Anglo-Welsh tournament: 12-24 against Worcester on 30 September 2006. Saracens have lost just one of their ten matches played so far this season in all competitions: 23-31 in Toulon in the European Challenge Cup on 15 October. Sarries have won their last three games in the Anglo-Welsh tournament, including their 30-22 home victory over Bath in the LV= Cup on Sunday. The two teams have already met once this season: at Wembley Stadium in the Premiership on 12 September with Saracens victorious 19-16.

The teams:

Northampton Saints: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Jon Clarke, 12 James Downey, 11 Bruce Reihana, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 Roger Wilson, 7 Scott Gray, 6 Phil Dowson (capt), 5 Juandre Kruger, 4 Christian Day, 3 Santiago Bonorino, 2 Brett Sharman, 1 Soane Tonga'uiha.
Replacements: 16 Joe Gray, 17 Jon Vickers, 18 Alex Waller, 19 James Cannon, 20 Mark Hopley, 21 Alan Dickens, 22 Barry Everitt, 23 Joe Ansbro.

Saracens: 15 Richard Haughton, 14 Noah Cato, 13 Rodd Penney, 12 Kevin Sorrell, 11 James Short, 10 Alex Goode, 9 Kevin Barrett, 8 Jackson Wray, 7 Andy Saull, 6 Don Barrell, 5 Mouritz Botha, 4 George Kruis, 3 Carlos Nieto, 2 Ethienne Reynecke (c), 1 Kasiano Lealamanua.
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Rhys Gill, 18 Tom Mercey, 19 Hugh Vyvyan, 20 Justin Melck, 21 Neil de Kock, 22 Owen Farrell, 23 Kameli Ratuvou.

Date: Saturday, November 14
Venue: Franklin's Gardens
Kick-off: 13.00 GMT
Referee: Gwyn Morris.

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