Planet Rugby

Preview: Sale v Saracens

31st December 2010 11:14

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Gavin Henson Saracens Wembley

First start for Sarries: Gavin Henson

Gavin Henson has been named in the Saracens starting line-up for Sunday's Aviva Premiership clash at Sale Sharks.

The Welsh and British Lions international starts the game at outside centre after making his debut off the bench at Wembley Stadium last weekend.

With David Strettle rested under the EPS agreement, Michael Tagicakibau switches to the wing which then sees Henson come into the starting line-up.

"Gavin's had another good week with us in training and we were very pleased with his contribution at Wembley," said Director of Rugby Brendan Venter.

"Having spoken to Gavin, he recognises the need we have at outside centre and wants to help the team."

In other team news, Chris Wyles joins the Saracens casualty list in the backline after suffering a fractured cheekbone against Wasps while Adam Powell, Derick Hougaard and Kameli Ratuvou are all long-term injured.

Alex Goode replaces Wyles at full-back and in other team news, Mouritz Botha, Richard Wigglesworth, Jacques Burger and Andy Saull all come back into the starting line-up. On the bench, prop James Ellershaw could be in line for a debut after impressing with his performances for the Saracens Storm.

Meanwhile, Sale Sharks welcome back Charlie Hodgson (foot), James Gaskell (ankle) and Andrew Sheridan (back) from injury.

"We have had a good few days with the squad, and have named a strong 23 for the game," said Head Coach Pete Anglesea.

"The players know what is expected of them and this is their big chance to start off 2011 well. It's the first home game for six weeks so I am sure the supporters will be up for the game too!"

Form: Saracens have won their last four fixtures against Sale since the Sharks were victorious 18-15 at Edgeley Park 12 September 2008. Sale Sharks were defeated 21-54 at Welford Road on Monday - the first time the Sharks had conceded a half century of points in any game since 2004. Sale have slipped to five straight defeats in all competitions. Saracens beat London Wasps 13-6 at Wembley Stadium on Boxing Day - their third win in their last four encounters. Saracens have a won four, lost three record in their last seven away games this season.

The teams:

Sale: 15 Paul Williams, 14 Rhys Crane, 13 Chris Bell, 12 Kyle Tonetti, 11 Mark Cueto (c), 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Dwayne Peel, 8 Sisa Koyamaibole 7 Carl Fearns, 6 James Gaskell, 5 Kristian Ormsby, 4 Chris Jones, 3 Karena Wihongi, 2 Marc Jones, 1 Andrew Sheridan.
Replacements: 16 Ben Roberts, 17 Lee Imiolek, 18 Henry Thomas, 19 Sean Cox, 20 Neil McMillan, 21 Will Cliff, 22 Nick Macleod, 23 Mathew Tait

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Michael Tagicakibau, 13 Gavin Henson, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 James Short, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Ernst Joubert, 7 Andy Saull, 6 Jacques Burger, 5 Mouritz Botha, 4 Steve Borthwick (c), 3 Petrus du Plessis, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Deon Carstens.
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Rhys Gill, 18 James Ellershaw, 19 George Kruis, 20 Kelly Brown, 21 Kevin Barrett, 22 Nils Mordt, 23 Noah Cato.

Date: Sunday, January 2
Venue: Edgeley Park
Kick-off: 14.00 GMT
Referee: Dave Pearson

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