Preview: Racing Métro v Saracens

12th Jan 2013, 11:59

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Key man for Sarries: Steve Borthwick

Key man for Sarries: Steve Borthwick

Juan Martin Hernandez will start at fly-half for Racing Métro 92 when they take on Saracens at Stade de la Beaujoire in Nantes on Sunday.

Juan Martin Hernandez will start at fly-half for Racing Métro 92 when they take on Saracens at Stade de la Beaujoire in Nantes on Sunday.

Sebastien Descons replaces injured France scrum-half Maxime Machenaud to partner Hernandez at half-back, with Benjamin Fall moving to full-back and Argentina international Juan Imhoff starting on the right wing.

Former Bath fly-half Olly Barkley has to settle for a place on the bench, whilst Dimitri Szarzewski leads the forward pack.

The French side have taken all of their home Pool games on the road and they travel to Nantes to host the English side who moved one of their home games to Belgium during this campaign.

Meanwhile, Saracens will look to take control of Heineken Cup Pool One in Saturday's crucial clash in Nantes.

Saracens are only two points ahead of their French rivals and three points ahead of Munster making this a must-win game for both sides as Munster will expect to win at Murrayfield.

Saracens won 30-13 when the two sides met in Brussels back in October but Racing will be full of confidence after they became the first side to beat Top 14 leaders Toulon at home in over a year last weekend.

Racing have kicked the ball in open play more often than any other side in the Heineken Cup this season (34 times per match) but they should look for touch too often since Sarries lock Steve Borthwick has won 25 line-outs so far this term, including two steals, more than any other player in the competition.

In team news ahead of the round five match, Chris Ashton, Richard Wigglesworth, Rhys Gill and Mouritz Botha all return to the starting line-up for Saracens from the side that beat Sale Sharks last weekend.

There are also changes among the replacements where hooker John Smit returns and is named on the bench alongside Mako Vunipola and Neil de Kock who started the game against Sale.

Rugby Union betting odds

The teams:

Racing Metro: 15 Benjamin Fall, 14 Juan Imhoff, 13 Henry Chavancy, 12 Fabrice Estebanez, 11 Sireli Bobo, 10 Juan Martin Hernandez, 9 Sebastien Descons, 8 Masi Matadigo, 7 Alvaro Galindo, 6 Antoine Battut, 5 Jone Qovu Nailiko, 4 Francois Van Der Merwe, 3 Luc Ducalcon, 2 Dimitri Szarzewski, 1 Eddy Ben Arous.
Replacements: 16 Benkjamin Noirot, 17 Julien Brugnaut, 18 Benjamin Sa, 19 Fabrice Metz, 20 Camille Gerondeau, 21 Jacques Cronje, 22 Mathieu Belie, 23 Olly Barkley.

Saracens: 15 Chris Wyles, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Joel Tomkins, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 David Strettle, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Ernst Joubert, 7 Will Fraser, 6 Kelly Brown, 5 Mouritz Botha, 4 Steve Borthwick (c), 3 Matt Stevens, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Rhys Gill.
Replacements: 16 John Smit, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Petrus Du Plessis, 19 George Kruis, 20 Nick Fenton-Wells, 21 Neil de Kock, 22 Charlie Hodgson, 23 Duncan Taylor.

Date: Saturday, January 12
Venue: La Beaujoire, Nantes
Kick-off: 16.40 local (15.40 GMT)
Referee: Alain Rolland (Ireland)