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Preview: Leicester v Saracens

22nd February 2013 10:42

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Tom Croft Leicester Saracens

Back for Tigers: Tom Croft

Geordan Murphy and Tom Croft return to the Leicester Tigers line-up for Saturday's Premiership clash with Saracens at Welford Road.

Full-back Murphy makes his 297th starting appearance for the club and is named as captain for a game which sees third-placed Tigers face a Saracens team just one place and one point ahead of them.

Croft returns to the Tigers back-row, while Ed Slater takes over from Louis Deacon at lock. Matt Smith, Dan Bowden and George Ford return to the backline this weekend.

"We weren't far away at Quins last week, we defended very well and scored two good tries, and this is another important game against another good side who are just above us in the table," said Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill.

Tigers have eight players on Six Nations duty this week, while Louis Deacon, Anthony Allen, Niall Morris, Boris Stankovich and Steve Mafi are unavailable due to injury.

Meanwhile, Sarries welcome back Chris Wyles and Schalk Brits after missing last week's 31-11 victory over Exeter Chiefs.

Rhys Gill also returns to the front-row and Alistair Hargreaves also starts to partner Steve Borthwick in the second-row.

Form: Leicester Tigers' five game winning run in Aviva Premiership Rugby ended on Saturday with their defeat at champions Harlequins. Tigers have lost only one game in any competition at Welford Road since October 2011: 9-22 to Harlequins on 22 September. Saracens solitary defeat in their last ten encounters in all competitions since early December was 16-29 at London Irish on 9 February. The two clubs drew 9-all when they met at Wembley Stadium in round three, whilst Saracens have won their last three matches at Welford Road in the regular season.

The teams:

Leicester Tigers: 15 Geordan Murphy (c), 14 Scott Hamilton, 13 Matt Smith, 12 Dan Bowden, 11 Adam Thompstone, 10 George Ford, 9 Sam Harrison, 8 Jordan Crane, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Tom Croft, 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 Ed Slater, 3 Logovi'i Mulipola, 2 Rob Hawkins, 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Replacements: 16 George Chuter, 17 Kieran Brookes, 18 Fraser Balmain, 19 Brett Deacon, 20 Richard Thorpe, 21 Micky Young, 22 Matt Cornwell, 23 Mathew Tait.

Saracens: 15 Chris Wyles, 14 James Short, 13 Joel Tomkins, 12 Adam Powell, 11 David Strettle, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Ernst Joubert, 7 Will Fraser, 6 Jackson Wray, 5 Alistair Hargreaves, 4 Steve Borthwick (c), 3 Matt Stevens, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Rhys Gill.
Replacements: 16 John Smit, 17 Nick Auterac, 18 Petrus du Plessis, 19 George Kruis, 20 Justin Melck, 21 Neil de Kock, 22 Nils Mordt, 23 Duncan Taylor.

Date: Saturday, February 23
Kick-off: 20:00
Venue: Welford Road
Referee: JP Doyle
Assistant referees: Paul Dix, Nigel Carrick
Timekeeper: Brian Abrahams
Television match official: Graham Hughes
Assessor: Clive Leeke

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Friday , September 5
Northampton vs Gloucester19:45
Saturday , September 6
Saracens vs Wasps14:00
Sale vs Bath14:00
Leicester vs Newcastle15:00
London Irish vs Harlequins16:30
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Scarlets vs Ulster14:40
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Montpellier vs Castres20:45
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Brive vs Toulouse14:45
Clermont Auvergne vs Racing Metro Paris17:00
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Toulon vs Bordeaux-Begles20:45
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Western Province vs Eastern Province Kings19:10
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Cheetahs vs Pumas15:00
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Blue Bulls vs Lions19:10
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Taranaki vs Bay Of Plenty14:35
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Saturday , August 30
La Rochelle 37 - 25 ToulouseLa Rochelle vs Toulouse Report
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Racing Metro Paris 17 - 10 ToulonRacing Metro Paris vs Toulon Report
Castres 30 - 6 BayonneCastres vs Bayonne Report
Lyon 24 - 6 Brive
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Griquas 25 - 36 CheetahsGriquas vs Cheetahs Report
Blue Bulls 18 - 23 Western ProvinceBlue Bulls vs Western Province Report
Eastern Province Kings 22 - 41 LionsEastern Province Kings vs Lions Report
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Friday , August 29
Clermont Auvergne 20 - 21 MontpellierClermont Auvergne vs Montpellier Report
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Manawatu 7 - 35 AucklandManawatu vs Auckland Report
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Saturday , August 23
New Zealand 51 - 20 AustraliaNew Zealand vs Australia Report
Argentina 31 - 33 South AfricaArgentina vs South Africa Report
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Brive 6 - 21 Clermont AuvergneBrive vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Bordeaux-Begles 30 - 21 Racing Metro Paris
Bayonne 38 - 12 Oyonnax
Stade Francais 23 - 20 Lyon
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Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Bath00
2Exeter00
3Gloucester00
4Harlequins00
5Leicester Tigers00