Preview: Saracens v Leicester

01st Jan 2010, 17:38

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Deacon: Tigers return

Deacon: Tigers return

Leicester welcome back captain Louis Deacon for the trip to Premiership leaders Saracens on Saturday.

Leicester Tigers welcome back captain Louis Deacon for the trip to face Guinness Premiership leaders Saracens at Vicarage Road on Saturday.

Deacon was rested for last weekend's win over Sale Sharks as part of the England Elite Player Squad agreement and returns to join Geoff Parling at lock.

Boris Stankovich and George Chuter start alongside Dan Cole in the front row, and Ben Woods starts his first game since September after his recovery from injury.

England flanker Lewis Moody is rested for the trip south, while Brett Deacon also comes into the back row.

Tigers retain the same backline that started the bonus-point win over Sale Sharks.

Martin Castrogiovanni, Tom Croft, Aaron Mauger, Geordan Murphy and Julian White are unavailable due to injury.

Head coach Richard Cockerill told the club's official website: "This is a big part of the season for us with Saracens and London Wasps in the Guinness Premiership then two big games in the Heineken Cup before we go into the Six Nations period.

"We've had two good wins in the last two weeks and we need to maintain a bit of momentum, but Saracens are at the top of the table and we expect a tough test."

League leaders Saracens have made three changes for the visit of Leicester - all in the forwards.

Carlos Nieto, Tom Ryder and Andy Saull all return to the starting line-up while director of rugby Brendan Venter names an unchanged backline for the crunch clash.

Saracens lost for the first time in the Premiership this season at London Irish last weekend, but Venter explained that he expects his side to be a better team because of that defeat.

"You will lose games in sport - that is inevitable," he told the club's official website. "But the test of a good team is how you react and I am sure that we will be a better team for that defeat. We will learn from it.

"We are really looking forward to Saturday's game in front of a big crowd at Vicarage Road. Leicester have an excellent squad of players and have shown with their results this season that they fully intend to defend their title so we know it will be a very hard game."

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Rodd Penney, 13 Kameli Ratuvou, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 Chris Wyles, 10 Glen Jackson, 9 Justin Marshall, 8 Ernst Joubert, 7 Andy Saull, 6 Wikus van Heerden, 5 Tom Ryder, 4 Steve Borthwick (captain), 3 Carlos Nieto, 2 Fabio Ongaro, 1 Matias Aguero
Replacements: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Rhys Gill, 18 Tom Mercey, 19 Mouritz Botha, 20 Justin Melck, 21 Moses Rauluni, 22 Derick Hougaard, 23 Richard Haughton

Leicester Tigers: 15 Scott Hamilton, 14 Johne Murphy, 13 Dan Hipkiss, 12 Anthony Allen, 11 Lote Tuqiri, 10 Toby Flood, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Jordan Crane, 7 Ben Woods, 6 Brett Deacon, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Louis Deacon (captain), 3 Dan Cole, 2 George Chuter, 1 Boris Stankovich
Replacements: 16 Mefin Davies, 17 Robbie Harris, 18 Marcos Ayerza, 19 Ben Kay, 20 Craig Newby, 21 James Grindal, 22 Jeremy Staunton, 23 Alesana Tuilagi

Date: Saturday, 2 January
Venue: Vicarage Road
Time: 15.00 GMT
Referee: Andrew Small