Planet Rugby

Preview: Saracens v Leicester

20th December 2013 11:47

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Marcelo Bosch for Saracens

Marcelo Bosch: At 13 for Sarries

Saracens have named their team for Saturday's Premiership clash with Leicester Tigers at Allianz Park.

David Strettle is replaced by Jack Wilson on the wing - the 30-year-old flyer misses out with a minor knock - Alex Goode comes back into the side at full-back in the place of Ben Ransom, with Chris Ashton continuing on the right wing.

Argentine international Marcelo Bosch continues at outside centre, but Duncan Taylor misses out with an ankle complaint and is replaced by Chris Wyles at inside centre.

In the halves, Richard Wigglesworth continues at scrum-half and is partnered by Owen Farrell at outside half.

Up front, Richard Barrington starts at loosehead prop with Mako Vunipola on the bench - Jamie George continues at hooker whilst Matt Stevens returns to the starting XV at tighthead prop.

Steve Borthwick captains the side at lock, and is joined by South African international Alastair Hargreaves in the second row.

In the back-row, Scotland captain Kelly Brown starts at openside flanker, with Billy Vunipola at blindside and Ernst Joubert at number eight.

Meanwhile, former England full-back Mathew Tait returns to the Leicester Tigers line-up. Tait is back in the number 15 shirt for the first time this season after returning from an ankle injury.

Director of rugby Richard Cockerill makes a number of changes to the squad following two physical contests with Montpellier in the Heineken Cup and in line with the England Elite Player Squad agreement.

Matt Smith comes in at centre and Ryan Lamb starts at fly-half. Changes in the forwards include the return of Boris Stankovich to the front row and Ed Salter at lock while Argentina international flanker Pablo Matera gains a first start for the club. Terrence Hepetema returns from injury to claim a place among the replacements.

Form: Saracens have won their last seven matches in all tournaments, and have topped the Aviva Premiership Rugby table since the end of Round Two. The Londoners have played fourteen games at their new Allianz Park venue and have lost only once: 13-27 to Northampton in last season's Premiership semi-final. Leicester Tigers have won their last six contests in all tournaments since their 16-23 defeat to Harlequins at Welford Road in the Premiership on November 2. The Tigers have not lost away from home in any tournament since visiting Wasps in the Premiership October 27. The two clubs met on three occasions last season in all competitions with Saracens unbeaten, Leicester's most recent victory over the Londoners being 24-15 in the 2012 Premiership semi-final at Welford Road. This is the Tigers first ever visit to Allianz Park.

The teams:

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Chris Wyles, 11 Jack Wilson, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Ernst Joubert. 7 Kelly Brown, 6 Billy Vunipola, 5 Alastair Hargreaves, 4 Steve Borthwick (c), 3 Matt Stevens, 2 Jamie George, 1 Richard Barrington.
Replacements: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 James Johnston, 19 George Kruis, 20 Jackson Wray, 21 Neil de Kock, 22 Charlie Hodgson, 23 Ben Ransom.

Leicester: 15 Mathew Tait, 14 Niall Morris, 13 Vereniki Goneva, 12 Matt Smith, 11 Miles Benjamin, 10 Ryan Lamb, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Jordan Crane (c), 7 Pablo Matera, 6 Jamie Gibson, 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 Ed Slater, 3 Fraser Balmain, 2 Neil Briggs, 1 Boris Stankovich.
Replacements: 16 Tom Youngs, 17 Marcos Ayerza, 18 Jérôme Schuster, 19 Sebastian De Chaves, 20 Thomas Waldrom, 21 David Mélé, 22 Terrence Hepetema, 23 Adam Thompstone.

Date: Saturday, December 21
Kick-off: 15:15 GMT
Venue: Allianz Park
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant referees: Andy Watson, Robin Goodliffe
Television match official: Graham Hughes

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