Planet Rugby

Preview: Saracens v Rovigo

09th October 2009 12:15

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Michael Owen pass for Saracens

Leading from eight: Michael Owen

Saracens get their European campaign up and running on Sunday when Rugby Rovigo visit Vicarage Road in the Amlin Challenge Cup.

In team news ahead of the game, Kevin Sorrell and Rodd Penney get their first starts of the season following injury while there are also full Saracens debuts for Michael Horak, Michael Tagicakibau, Kevin Barrett and Jake Sharp.

England U20s number ten Sharp has come through the ranks at Saracens having first pulled on a shirt as an U7 and after impressing in the club's A-League matches so far this season, Director of Rugby Brendan Venter gives the 19-year-old a first start.

Sorrell returns to first team action for the first time in seven months following knee surgery and Penney also gets a run out after picking up an injury in pre-season. Centre Adam Powell misses out with a hamstring injury picked up in training.

Michael Owen captains the side while Horak, Tagicakibau and Barrett have also impressed for the Saracens Storm this season and as Venter explained, they deserve an opportunity.

"Although we are starting a new competition on Sunday, our focus remains the same and that is to try and win every game," he said.

"We want to go out there on Sunday and perform to the high standards we have already set and continue to grow as a group of players.

"We have made some changes for the game but it really does show the strength of the squad we have at this club.

"Our schedule could see us play 40 games this season and we will need the entire squad fit and fresh for the challenge on Sunday and also the rest of the season."

More to follow...

The teams:

Saracens: 15 Michael Horak, 14 Michael Tagicakibau, 13 Rodd Penney, 12 Kevin Sorrell, 11 Richard Haughton, 10 Jake Sharp, 9 Kevin Barrett, 8 Michael Owen (c), 7 Justin Melck, 6 Don Barrell, 5 Hayden Smith, 4 Tom Ryder, 3 Richard Skuse, 2 Fabio Ongaro, 1 Matias Aguero.
Replacements: 16 Ethienne Reynecke, 17 Alex Brown, 18 Tom Mercey, 19 Mouritz Botha, 20 Wikus van Heerden, 21 Justin Marshall, 22 Derick Hougaard, 23 Noah Cato.

Rovigo: 15 Pablo Calanchini, 14 Roberto Pedrazzi, 13 Andrea Pratichetti, 12 Andrea Sartoretto, 11 Marcello De Gasperi, 10 German Bustos, 9 Pietro Travagli, 8 Niccolò Badocchi, 7 Edoardo Lubian, 6 Younes Anouer, 5 Daniele Tumiati, 4 Tomasso Reato, 3 Giovanni Boccalon, 2 Luke Mahoney, 1 Andrea de Marchi.
Replacements: 16 Flavio Damiano, 17 Gonzalo Buquete, 18 Massimiliano Ravalle, 19 Marco Barion, 20 Juan Cruz Legora, 21 Riccardo Bocchino, 22 Emanuel Pellegrini, 23 Stefano Canale,

Date: Sunday, October 11

Kick-off: 15:00 BST

Venue: Vicarage Road

Referee: Pascal Gauzere (France)

Assistant referees: Akim Hadj Bachir (France), Stephan Pomarède (France)

Television match official: John Burtenshaw (England)

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