Planet Rugby

Preview: Saracens v Exeter

15th February 2013 11:41

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allianz park

Debut: Allianz Park

Saracens will play their first Aviva Premiership match at Allianz Park on Saturday in front of a sold out crowd when Exeter Chiefs are the visitors.

It will also be the first time a Premiership match has been played on an artificial turf pitch and Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall admitted the squad is excited ahead of the showdown.

"It's a day that will not only be enjoyed by the players, but also supporters and everyone connected with the project who have put all their energy and effort into delivering a fantastic venue that will also be enjoyed and used by the whole community," he said.

"But while the sense of occasion will not be lost on us, our priority is to deliver a performance on the pitch against a very good Exeter Chiefs side."

In team news ahead of the game, Adam Powell, James Short, Mako Vunipola, Mouritz Botha and Will Fraser come back into the starting line-up.

Alex Goode, Owen Farrell, Chris Ashton, Brad Barritt and Kelly Brown do not feature due to international duty while Rhys Gill, Schalk Brits, Duncan Taylor and Jacques Burger are ruled out due to injury.

Meanwhile, Exeter's team news sees head coach Rob Baxter make four changes to the starting line-up that faced Sale Sharks.

In the pack, off-season signings Damian Welch and Kai Horstmann both make their first-ever Premiership starts for the Devon club.

Welch takes over from skipper Tom Hayes in the second-row, whilst Horstmann's inclusion at number eight sees Richard Baxter switch across the back-row to replace Ben White.

Behind, Ian Whitten comes into the midfield in place of Sireli Naqelevuki and Matt Jess comes in on the wing for Fijian Watisoni Votu.

Form: Allianz Park becomes the 33rd ground to host Premiership Rugby and the first with an artificial pitch - the 6th different home venue for a Saracens game in the history of the tournament. Saracens' eight game winning run in all competitions ended with their 16-29 defeat at London Irish on Saturday. Sarries have not lost a home game in Aviva Premiership Rugby since Harlequins visited Wembley Stadium on 31 March. Exeter Chiefs' only win in their last eight encounters in all competitions was 28-19 at home to Northampton Saints in the Anglo-Welsh Cup on 2 February. The Chiefs have won just one away game in the Premiership since April: 27-23 at London Irish on 25 November. In round four of Aviva Premiership Rugby at Sandy Park Exeter beat Saracens for the first time since 2010.

The teams:

Saracens: 15 Chris Wyles, 14 James Short, 13 Joel Tomkins, 12 Adam Powell, 11 David Strettle, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Neil de Kock, 8 Ernst Joubert, 7 Will Fraser, 6 Jackson Wray, 5 Mouritz Botha, 4 Steve Borthwick (capt), 3 Matt Stevens, 2 John Smit, 1 Mako Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Nick Auterac, 18 Petrus du Plessis, 19 Alistair Hagreaves, 20 Justin Melck, 21 Richard Wigglesworth, 22 Nils Mordt, 23 Joe Maddock.

Exeter: 15 Luke Arscott, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Ian Whitten, 12 Jason Shoemark, 11 Matt Jess, 10 Gareth Steenson, 9 Will Chudley, 8 Kai Horstmann, 7 James Scaysbrook, 6 Richard Baxter (capt), 5 Damian Welch, 4 Dean Mumm, 3 Hoani Tui, 2 Neil Clark, 1 Ben Moon.
Replacements: 16 Jack Yeandle, 17 Carl Rimmer, 18 Alex Brown, 19 Tom Hayes, 20 Aly Muldowney, 21 Haydn Thomas, 22 Ignacio Mieres, 23 Phil Dollman.

Date: Saturday, February 16
Kick-off: 15:00
Venue: Allianz Park
Referee: Martin Fox
Assistant referees: Robin Goodliffe, Stuart Terheege
Television match official: Geoff Warren
Timekeeper: Clive Leeke
Assessor: Ed Morrison

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , November 28
Bath vs Harlequins19:45
Saturday , November 29
Leicester Tigers vs Wasps15:00
Exeter vs Saracens16:30
Sunday , November 30
London Irish vs Gloucester13:00
London Welsh vs Northampton14:30
Newcastle vs Sale15:15
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
International Match
Saturday , November 29
Wales vs South Africa14:30
England vs Australia14:30
More International Match fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , November 28
Munster vs Ulster19:35
Cardiff Blues vs Treviso19:35
Saturday , November 29
Zebre vs Edinburgh15:00
Leinster vs Ospreys17:15
Connacht vs Scarlets19:30
Sunday , November 30
Glasgow vs Newport Gwent D'gons16:00
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Saturday , November 29
Oyonnax vs Bordeaux-Begles18:00
Lyon vs Montpellier18:00
La Rochelle vs Bayonne18:00
Toulon vs Clermont Auvergne18:00
Castres vs Racing Metro Paris18:00
Sunday , November 30
Stade Francais vs Brive18:00
More Top 14 fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , November 23
Saracens 24 - 31 NorthamptonSaracens vs Northampton Report
London Welsh 5 - 26 Leicester TigersLondon Welsh vs Leicester Tigers Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Georgia 35 - 24 JapanGeorgia vs Japan Report
More International Match results
Guinness PRO12
Treviso 24 - 24 LeinsterTreviso vs Leinster Report
Edinburgh 28 - 13 Cardiff BluesEdinburgh vs Cardiff Blues Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , November 22
London Irish 23 - 33 BathLondon Irish vs Bath Report
Exeter 31 - 15 WaspsExeter vs Wasps Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Italy 6 - 22 South AfricaItaly vs South Africa Report
England 28 - 9 SamoaEngland vs Samoa Report
France 13 - 18 ArgentinaFrance vs Argentina Report
Wales 16 - 34 New ZealandWales vs New Zealand Report
Scotland 37 - 12 TongaScotland vs Tonga Report
Ireland 26 - 23 AustraliaIreland vs Australia Report
Romania 18 - 9 CanadaRomania vs Canada Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , November 21
Harlequins 12 - 16 Sale SharksHarlequins vs Sale Sharks Report
Newcastle Falcons 20 - 10 GloucesterNewcastle Falcons vs Gloucester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Fiji 20 - 14 USAFiji vs USA Report
More International Match results
Guinness PRO12
Dragons 12 - 38 MunsterDragons vs Munster Report
Ulster 25 - 16 OspreysUlster vs Ospreys Report
Connacht 43 - 3 ZebreConnacht vs Zebre Report
Scarlets 19 - 9 Glasgow WarriorsScarlets vs Glasgow Warriors Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , November 16
Leicester Tigers 21 - 21 SaracensLeicester Tigers vs Saracens Report
Wasps 71 - 7 London WelshWasps vs London Welsh Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Ireland 49 - 7 GeorgiaIreland vs Georgia Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , November 15
Sale Sharks 36 - 8 London IrishSale Sharks vs London Irish Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Northampton830
2Exeter828
3Bath828
4Saracens825
5Leicester Tigers821