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Preview: Saracens v Worcester

02nd May 2014 12:22


matt stevens saracens worcester

At tighthead: Matt Stevens

Worcester boss Dean Ryan has named an unchanged starting line-up for Saturday's must-win clash with Saracens at Allianz Park.

Vice-captain Chris Pennell, who was recently nominated for Premiership Player of the Season, is set to make his 125th appearance for the club.

The full-back features alongside Ryan Lamb, David Lemi, Andy Symons, Alex Grove and Josh Drauniniu in the backline, with Jonny Arr at scrum-half.

The front-row sees Ofa Fainga'anuku partner Agustin Creevy and Euan Murray with James Percival and Mariano Galarza in the second-row.

Mike Williams maintains his role at blindside flanker next to Sam Betty and skipper Jonathan Thomas.

"There are some strange things happening at the end of the season," said Ryan.

"Saracens probably played the best club performance I've seen against Clermont last weekend so we don't quite know what happens next.

"It's going to be interesting to see what happens this weekend. All we can do is control ourselves and prepare as well as we have done in the last two or three months.

"If other things change and we have a bit of a sniff of staying up we will fight like mad to make the most of it.

"We'll have to face up to whatever team they show. I'm not going to go into the game thinking that we're relegated and we haven't got a prayer.

"Because we believe we do have a chance and we will not give up."

Meanwhile, South African international Alistair Hargreaves captains Saracens from lock forward, with Steve Borthwick rested. In the front row, Schalk Brits plays is 100th Premiership game for the club, and is joined by Mako Vunipola and Matt Stevens in the front three.

Mouritz Botha partners Hargreaves in the second row, whilst Will Fraser and Jackson Wray come into the side to replace Jacques Burger (rested) and Kelly Brown, who reverts to the bench - Billy Vunipola starts at number eight.

In the backs, scrum-half Richard Wigglesworth makes his 100th appearance for the club, coming in for Neil de Kock in Mark McCall's only backline change from the side that beat Clermont last weekend at Twickenham Stadium.

Full-back Alex Goode makes his 150th game for the club at full-back and is joined by Chris Ashton and David Strettle on the wings. Brad Barritt and Marcelo Bosch link up again in midfield, whilst on the bench, USA international Chris Wyles will make his 150th appearance for the club should he feature.

Form: Saracens have already secured a place in the play-offs for a fifth successive year while another victory would see them set a new record for the number of league points in a Premiership season, a mark currently held by Leicester with 83 points in 2001/02. Saracens have won their last two matches against Worcester including a 47-17 victory on the Warriors' only previous visit to Allianz Park.

The teams:

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 Dave Strettle, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Will Fraser, 6 Jackson Wray, 5 Mouritz Botha, 4 Alistair Hargreaves (c), 3 Matt Stevens, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Mako Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Rhys Gill, 18 James Johnston, 19 Eoin Sheriff, 20 Kelly Brown, 21 Neil de Kock, 22 Duncan Taylor, 23 Chris Wyles.

Worcester: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Josh Drauniniu, 13 Alex Grove, 12 Andy Symons, 11 David Lemi, 10 Ryan Lamb, 9 Jonny Arr, 8 Jonathan Thomas (c), 7 Sam Betty, 6 Mike Williams, 5 Mariano Galarza, 4 James Percival, 3 Euan Murray, 2 Agustin Creevy, 1 Ofa Fainga'anuku.
Replacements: 16 Ed Shervington, 17 Paul Andrew, 18 Rob O'Donnell, 19 Semisi Taulava, 20 Richard de Carpentier, 21 Paul Hodgson, 22 Paul Warwick, 23 Ravai Fatiaki.

Date: Saturday 3rd May
Venue: Allianz Park
Kick-off: 1500 local and BST
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth
Assistant referees: Kelvin Stewart, Roy Maybank
TMO: David Grashoff

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