Planet Rugby

Preview: Saracens v London Welsh

01st March 2013 11:46

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George Kruis for Saracens

George Kruis: Starts at lock for Sarries

Saracens boss Mark McCall has made two changes to his starting XV for Sunday's Premiership clash with London Welsh at Allianz Park.

In the back-line, Duncan Taylor startes the match at inside centre in place of Adam Powell.

The other change to the starting XV sees George Kruis taking over from Alistair Hargreaves to partner captain Steve Borthwick in the second row.

On the replacement's bench, Andy Saull makes a first appearance since before Christmas having recovered from a fractured thumb while Jamie George, Mouritz Botha and Ben Ransom all come into the matchday squad.

"London Welsh have been a highly competitive team all season and they bring a high level of intensity and work rate to matches," explained McCall.

"The challenge for us on Sunday, and for the remainder of the season, is to continue to build on our performances and concentrate on our own game plan.

"If we get those things right, we will give ourselves a good chance of getting the outcome that we want."

Meanwhile, London Welsh head coach Lyn Jones has been forced into a number of changes with Gonzalo Tiesi, Neil Briggs and Ed Jackson all ruled out through injury.

Tiesi's place at outside centre is taken by Sonny Parker, while there's a debut on the wing for new signing Seb Stegmann.

Greg Bateman moves from tight head to hooker to replace Briggs, with James Tideswell coming into the front row.

In the second row, Kirill Kulemin partners captain Jonathan Mills, while there's a new look back row.

Jackson's place at number eight is taken by Alfie To'oala, with Julio Cabello Farias moving from openside to blindside flanker.

Michael Hills wears the number seven jersey.

"We were very disappointed with the result and our performance at Exeter last week and we're determined to put that right on Sunday, but it doesn't get any easier against arguably the best team in the Aviva Premiership at the moment," said Jones.

"However, we're looking forward to visiting Allianz Park and putting on a good show."

Form: Saracens only defeat in their last eleven encounters in all competitions was 16-29 at London Irish in Aviva Premiership Rugby on 9 February. Saracens have not lost any home game at their seven different home venues since Clermont Auvergne won 22-3 at Vicarage Road in the quarter-final of last season's European Cup. London Welsh have slipped to six successive Premiership defeats since beating London Irish 15-9 at Kassam Stadium on 1 December. The Exiles' solo away victory in the competition remains at 29-19 when they visited Sale on 21 September. Saracens won 28-23 at Oxford in their only previous Premiership encounter with London Welsh, whilst the Welshmen's only previous league win over Saracens was 23-7 way back on 12 September 1987 at Southgate in league division two (London Welsh's very first league game).

The teams:

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

London Welsh: 15 Tom Arscott, 14 Phil MacKenzie, 13 Sonny Parker, 12 Seb Jewell, 11 Seb Stegmann, 10 Gavin Henson, 9 Tyson Keats, 8 Alfie To'oala, 7 Michael Hills, 6 Julio Cabello Farias, 5 Kirill Kulemin, 4 Jonathan Mills (c), 3 James Tideswell, 2 Greg Bateman, 1 Franck Montanella.
Replacements: 16 Dan George, 17 Tom Bristow, 18 Paulica Ion, 19. Matt Corker, 20 Daniel Browne, 21 Alex Davies, 22 Gordon Ross, 23 Tom Voyce.

Date: Sunday, March 3
Kick-off: 14:15
Venue: Allianz Park
Referee: Luke Pearce
Assistant referees: Kevin Stewart, Andrew Watson
Television match official: David Grashoff

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