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Preview: Saracens v Worcester

12th April 2013 12:15

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SKY_MOBILE John Smit - Saracens v Worcester - 23/11/12

Starter: John Smit

Danny Gray will make his second Aviva Premiership start of the season when Worcester Warriors travel to Allianz Park to face Saracens.

The fly-half, who kicked nine points against Bath on his last start for the club in February, is one of two changes to the side which lost out to Exeter Chiefs two weekends ago.

Tighthead prop John Andress also comes into the side in place of Euan Murray, who misses the game due to religious reasons.

Warriors defeated Saracens 12-3 when the two sides met in the corresponding Aviva Premiership fixture at Sixways last November.

Prop Rob O'Donnell, flanker Jake Abbott and scrum-half Paul Hodgson are recalled to the bench for Sunday's match as the Warriors go in search of their first away win of the season.

"I was pretty happy with the way the team played against Exeter by and large and I think keeping that continuity is important," said head coach Richard Hill.

"I watched Leicester and Harlequins play Exeter and we made more line breaks than both of those teams put together so it does show that we're moving in the right direction.

"It's a good challenge against Saracens and we're going to go down there and play as much rugby as we can. On their new pitch it will be a very exciting all-action game and the ball will be in play for a lot of the time.

"Looking back at the season I think we've made a lot of progress in terms of changing the playing style. These final three games offer big challenges for us but it's an opportunity for our players to go out and show what they can do."

Meanwhile, prop Rhys Gill will make his 100th appearance for Saracens against Worcester on Sunday on a day when Jacques Burger will also make his first start for the club since December 2011.

Gill returns to the starting line-up for the Aviva Premiership clash against the Warriors and he will become the newest member of the 100 Club. Burger has battled back from a knee injury to take his place in the back-row.

In other team news, Charlie Hodgson, John Smit, George Kruis, Mouritz Botha and Jackson Wray all come into the starting line-up with Owen Farrell, Schalk Brits, Steve Borthwick, Alistair Hargreaves and Ernst Joubert all rested on rotation.

Chris Wyles and Alex Goode switch places in the starting XV and the replacement's bench as do Neil de Kock and Richard Wigglesworth. Kelly Brown captains the side.

"Worcester have quality players throughout their line-up and are well coached by Richard Hill," said Saracens boss Mark McCall.

"They regularly prove they are capable of producing high quality displays against any opposition and they will provide a stern test for us, but we can't wait to run out at Allianz Park once again."

Form: Saracens have won their last five Aviva Premiership Rugby matches since their 16-29 reversal to London Irish at Reading on 9th February. Saracens are unbeaten in any home game this season, despite the fact that they have been played at seven different venues, they have won all four previous games they have played at Allianz Park. Worcester Warriors only win in their last eight fixtures in all competitions was 29-23 at home to London Wasps in the Premiership on 1st March. The Warriors have not been victorious on the road in the Premiership since beating Wasps 6-0 at Adams Park on New Year's Day 2012. Worcester beat Saracens 12-3at Sixways in round 9 and have not achieved a season's double over them since 2006/07.

The teams:

Saracens: 15 Chris Wyles, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Joel Tomkins, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 David Strettle, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Neil De Kock, 8 Jackson Wray, 7 Jacques Burger, 6 Kelly Brown (c), 5 Mouritz Botha, 4 George Kruis, 3 Matt Stevens, 2 John Smit, 1 Rhys Gill.
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Carlos Nieto, 19 Eoin Sheriff, 20 Justin Melck, 21 Richard Wigglesworth, 22 Alex Goode, 23 Duncan Taylor.

Worcester Warriors: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Josh Drauniniu, 13 Alex Grove, 12 Josh Matavesi, 11 David Lemi, 10 Danny Gray, 9 Jonny Arr, 8 Semisi Taulava, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Neil Best, 5 Chris Jones, 4 James Percival (c), 3 John Andress, 2 Ed Shervington, 1 Matt Mullan.
Replacements: 16 Aleki Lutui, 17 Ceri Jones, 18 Rob O'Donnell, 19 Dean Schofield, 20 Jake Abbott, 21 Paul Hodgson, 22 Joe Carlisle, 23 Jon Clarke.

Date: Saturday, 14 April
Venue: Allianz Park
Kick-off: 15:00
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth
Assistant Referees: Andrew Watson and Ian Tempest

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