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Preview: Saracens v Harlequins

30th March 2012 12:17

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sarries v quins

Top guns: Sarries v Harlequins

A near sold-out Wembley Stadium will stage the top-of-the-table Aviva Premiership clash on Saturday when Saracens face Harlequins in Round 19.

Owen Farrell, Mouritz Botha and David Strettle return to the starting line-up for the game against the league leaders. Carlos Nieto also comes into the XV, while Brad Barritt is on a rest week.

There are also changes on the bench where scrum-half Richard Wigglesworth is back in competitive action after being ruled out for six months following knee surgery.

Andy Saull has been ruled out for up to five months after picking up a knee injury against Sale while John Smit is absent with a shoulder injury.

"There couldn't be a better stage for a game between the current top two sides in the competition," said director of rugby Mark McCall.

"Wembley has become a home from home for us in recent seasons, but it's a stage on which the players really enjoy performing and after a very good week of preparation, we can't wait for kick off."

Following last week's hard fought win against Bath, the Quins' backline remains unchanged as Mike Brown lines up at full-back with Ugo Monye and Tom Williams on the wings.

Jordan Turner-Hall and George Lowe continue to operate in the midfield outside Nick Evans and Danny Care.

Former England U20, Rob Buchanan, will start at hooker as Joe Marler and James Johnston complete the front row. Olly Kohn and George Robson continue their partnership in the second-row.

Chris Robshaw returns from England duty to captain the side at openside flanker as Nick Easter and Maurie Fa'asavalu complete the forwards. Joe Gray picked up a knock during training this week and is awaiting test results to ascertain the extent of the injury.

The replacements see Aston Croall joining Mark Lambert and Will Collier as cover for the front-row.

Tomas Vallejos and Tom Guest cover the second and back-row respectively, with Karl Dickson, Rory Clegg and Ross Chisholm looking to impact in the backline.

Form: The top two teams in the Aviva Premiership Rugby table go head to head at Wembley Stadium. Saracens have won their last two games against Northampton and Sale. Saracens have played in seven previous games at Wembley, losing just once: 23-25 to Leinster in the Heineken Cup on 16 October 2010. Harlequins' solo defeat in their last five encounters was 23-29 at Gloucester on 25 February. Quins have not won away from home in 2012, their most recent victory on the road being 11-9 at Exeter on New Year's Eve. Saracens have won their last five matches with Harlequins including a 37-18 victory on their only previous clash at Wembley Stadium in April 2010.

The teams:

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 David Strettle, 13 Chris Wyles, 12 Owen Farrell, 11 James Short, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Neil de Kock, 8 Ernst Joubert, 7 Will Fraser, 6 Justin Melck, 5 Mouritz Botha, 4 Steve Borthwick (c), 3 Carlos Nieto, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Matt Stevens.
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Petrus du Plessis, 19 George Kruis, 20 Jackson Wray, 21 Richard Wigglesworth, 22 Adam Powell, 23 Michael Tagicakibau.

Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Tom Williams, 13 George Lowe, 12 Jordan Turner-Hall, 11 Ugo Monye, 10 Nick Evans,9 Danny Care, 8 Nick Easter, 7 Chris Robshaw (c), 6 Maurie Fa'asavalu, 5 George Robson, 4 Ollie Kohn, 3 James Johnston, 2 Rob Buchanan, 1 Joe Marler
Replacements: 16 Aston Croall, 17 Mark Lambert, 18 Will Collier, 19 Tomas Vallejos, 20 Tom Guest, 21 Karl Dickson, 22 Rory Clegg, 23 Ross Chisholm.

Date: Saturday, March 31
Venue: Wembley Stadium
Kick-off: 15:00
Referee: Referee: Greg Garner

  • Harlequins Fixtures
Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , November 14
Gloucester vs Harlequins19:45
Friday , November 21
Harlequins vs Sale19:45
Friday , November 28
Bath vs Harlequins19:45
Saturday , December 20
Harlequins vs Newcastle15:00
Saturday , December 27
Harlequins vs Northampton15:00
Sunday , January 4
London Welsh vs Harlequins14:30
Saturday , January 10
Harlequins vs Leicester15:00
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sunday , October 26
Wasps vs Harlequins17:15
Saturday , December 6
Harlequins vs LeinsterTBC
Saturday , December 13
Leinster vs HarlequinsTBC
More European Rugby Champions Cup fixtures
  • Harlequins Results
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
European Rugby Champions Cup
Friday , October 17
Harlequins 25 - 9 CastresHarlequins vs Castres Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , October 10
Leicester 22 - 16 HarlequinsLeicester vs Harlequins Report
Saturday , October 4
Harlequins 52 - 0 London Welsh
Sunday , September 28
Exeter 36 - 13 Harlequins
Saturday , September 20
Harlequins 26 - 23 Wasps
Friday , September 12
Harlequins 0 - 39 Saracens
Saturday , September 6
London Irish 15 - 20 Harlequins
More Aviva Premiership results
  • Table
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
5Wasps615
6Gloucester615
7Harlequins614
8Leicester Tigers614
9London Irish612