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Preview: Saracens v Toulouse

17th October 2013 11:07

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Farrell v Mcalister

Showdown: Farrell v McAlister

Saracens know they can strike a major blow in the quest for top spot in Heineken Cup Pool 3 with a home victory over Toulouse on Friday.

Sarries made hard work of their narrow win in Galway last Friday up against a spirited Connacht side. After blitzing the Irishmen with a brace of early tries, the game as a contest looked in doubt. Impressive work in attack from Mako Vunipola - who's carrying was outstanding - Schalk Brits and Chris Wyles overwhelmed the hosts.

However, boss Mark McCall will be very disappointed with his side's inability to close out the game, and earn a bonus point, with the Premiership club almost letting the win slip in the dying moments.

Sarries have been domestically rampant thus far; unbeaten, in great form and sitting atop the Premiership table.

The performances of Billy Vunipola, Jacques Burger and a resurgent Chris Ashton have caught the eye in a string of confident victories, and the squad has been boosted by the arrival of new signing Marcelo Bosch following the conclusion of his Rugby Championship duties with Argentina.

Burger returns to the back-row with Alistair Hargreaves, Richard Wigglesworth and Duncan Taylor all coming back into the starting line-up. Bosch is named amongst the replacements.

Toulouse, meanwhile, have endured an inconsistent start to their Top14 season, true to the French mantra of home victories and troubles on their travels.

That said, they continue to boast a plethora of high-profile names, including a number of French internationals.

Their heavy victory over perennial strugglers Zebre was expected, and the all-important bonus point was secured.

Maxime Medard switches to full-back with Clement Poitrenaud at inside centre, whilst Luke McAlister and Jean-Marc Doussain come in at half-back.

Thierry Dusautoir returns the starting XV at openside flanker, whilst Yoann Maestri is in at lock and Schalk Ferreira and Census Johnston are the new props.

With neither the Irish nor Italian outfit expected to pose these two many problems, this clash will give the victor the upper-hand in the race for a first-placed pool finish, and automatic qualification for the business-end of the tournament.

The teams:

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Chris Wyles, 12 Duncan Taylor, 11 David Strettle, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Ernst Joubert, 7 Will Fraser, 6 Billy Vunipola, 5 Alistair Hargreaves, 4 Steve Borthwick (c), 3 Matt Stevens, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Mako Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Rhys Gill, 18 James Johnston, 19 George Kruis, 20 Kelly Brown, 21 Neil de Kock, 22 Marcelo Bosch, 23 Joel Tomkins.

Toulouse: 15 Maxime Medard, 14 Yoann Huget, 13 Florian Fritz (c), 12 Clement Poitrenaud, 11 Hosea Gear, 10 Luke McAlister, 9 Jean-Marc Doussain, 8 Gillian Galan, 7 Thierry Dusautoir, 6 Yannick Nyanga (c), 5 Joe Tekori, 4 Yoann Maestri, 3 Census Johnston, 2 Christopher Tolofua, 1 Schalk Ferreira.
Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Gurthro Steenkamp, 18 Yohan Montes, 19 Gregory Lamboley, 20 Romain Millo-Chluski, 21 Jano Vermaak, 22 Gael Fickou, 23 Louis Picamoles.

Date: Friday, October 18
Kick-off: 19:45 BST (18:45 GMT)
Venue: Wembley Stadium
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant referees: Sean Brickell (Wales), Wayne Davies (Wales)
Television match official: Derek Bevan (Wales)

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