Planet Rugby



Preview: Ospreys v Saracens

15th December 2011 09:43


John Smit wearing a Fez for Saracens

On the bench: John Smit

Saracens have named an unchanged line-up for their return game against the Ospreys at Liberty Stadium on Friday as the Heineken Cup kicks on.

In fact, Director of Rugby Mark McCall has made just one change to his squad with John Smit returning to the bench for the pivotal game.

The duo met at Wembley on Saturday in front of 41,000 fans when tries from Rhys Gill, Ernst Joubert and Chris Wyles saw Saracens prevail.

Meanwhile, the Ospreys have made two changes as last week's lock duo Ryan Jones (flank) and Jonathan Thomas (number eight) move back.

Those are the only changes made to the starting line-up by head coach Sean Holley, who is boosted by the return of the influential Kahn Fotuali'i on the bench. The scrum-half is joined riding the pine by fellow Samoan George Stowers.

"This is a big game against the English champions, exactly what the Heineken Cup is all about. It's a quick turnaround from last Saturday at Wembley and a chance for us to make up for the disappointment of that defeat," said Holley.

"We didn't see too much that we didn't expect from Saracens last week, it's just that we didn't deal with it. They come with a big driving lineout and a kicking game, an aerial assault. Defensively in the first half we started slowly and gave them a head start. You can't afford to do that, it was the difference in the game really. We'll be working hard to ensure we don't give them that head start this week.

"It's going to be another tough 80 minutes, it will be keenly contested as it was at Wembley and there won't be much in it again. It's two good teams going head-to-head and there's everything to look forward to. Treviso are making the group interesting with their results, as we've been saying all along, but really, Friday night is about us and nothing else.

"We know what we've got to do and that is make sure we do our jobs, know our roles and ensure that we are accurate in what we are doing. We have to get all of that right if we are going to keep our long and proud home record in this competition intact. It's not going to be easy but that's the Heineken Cup. You have to win your home games in Europe and we've got a good record of doing that, but Saracens will be one of the toughest tests we've had."

Rugby Union betting odds

The teams:

Ospreys: 15 Richard Fussell, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Andrew Bishop, 12 Ashley Beck, 11 Shane Williams, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Rhys Webb, 8 Jonathan Thomas, 7 Justin Tipuric (capt), 6 Ryan Jones, 5 Ian Evans, 4 Ian Gough, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Paul James.
Replacements: 16 Huw Bennett, 17 Duncan Jones, 18 Aaron Jarvis, 19 Joe Bearman, 20 George Stowers, 21 Kahn Fotuali'i, 22 Matthew Morgan, 23 Hanno Dirksen.

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 David Strettle, 13 Owen Farrell, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 Chris Wyles, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Ben Spencer, 8 Ernst Joubert, 7 Jacques Burger, 6 Kelly Brown, 5 Mouritz Botha, 4 Steve Borthwick (c), 3 Matt Stevens, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Rhys Gill.
Replacements: 16 John Smit, 17 Deon Carstens, 18 Carlos Nieto, 19 George Kruis, 20 Andy Saull, 21 Peter Stringer, 22 Adam Powell, 23 James Short.

Date: Friday, December 16
Venue: Liberty Stadium, Swansea
Kick-off: 20:00 GMT
Referee: Jerome Garces

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