Preview: Saracens v Toulon

14th Jan 2010, 17:47

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Jonny Wilkinson is in the Toulon side to face Saracens

Jonny Wilkinson is in the Toulon side to face Saracens

Saracens host Toulon on Thursday knowing they must win to maintain hopes of reaching the knockout stages of the Amlin Challenge Cup.

Saracens host Toulon in the Amlin Challenge Cup on Thursday knowing they must win to maintain hopes of reaching the knockout stages.

In team news ahead of the game, Derick Hougaard and Schalk Brits return to the starting line-up with Tom Ryder partnering captain Steve Borthwick in the second row.

Wikus van Heerden has been given a week off which allows Justin Melck to come into the pack.

On the bench, Tom Mercey and Don Barrell both come into the matchday 23 along with Noah Cato and Adam Powell, both of who were among 11 Saracens players to commit their future to the club by signing new contracts this week.

Scrum-half Neil de Kock, another to sign a new contract, also returns after an ankle injury.

"The current pool three table sees Toulon have a five point advantage on us, so it's pretty clear that we need to get the win on Thursday night if we are to maintain our hopes of making the knockout stages of the competition," said Saracens Director of Rugby Brendan Venter.

"Toulon have some very good players and we are keen to make up for our defeat in the South of France earlier in the season. But we have some great players of our own and we will concentrate on our game and do what we need to do to get the win."

Meanwhile, Toulon have not named a full-strength team but have nevertheless included England fly-half Jonny Wilkinson amd Worcester-bound full-back Luke Rooney.

Skipper and former Springbok Joe van Niekerk is also in the side at number eight with Pumas star Felipe Contepomi on the bench.

The teams:

Saracens:15 Alex Goode, 14 Rodd Penney, 13 Kameli Ratuvou, 12 Brad Barrett, 11 Chris Wyles, 10 Derick Hougaard, 9 Justin Marshall, 8 Ernst Joubert, 7 Andy Saull, 6 Justin Melck, 5 Tom Ryder, 4 Steve Borthwick, 3 Carlos Nieto, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Rhys Gill.
Replacements: 16 Fabio Ongaro, 17 Matias Aguero, 18 Tom Mercey, 19 Hugh Vyvyan, 20 Donald Barrell, 21 Neil de Kock, 22 Adam Powell, 23 Noah Cato.

Toulon:15 Luke Rooney, 14 Clement Marienval, 13 Gabi Lovobalavu, 12 Tom May, 11 Christian Loamanu, 10 Jonny Wilkinson, 9 Matt Henjak, 8 Joe van Niekerk, 7 Cedric Beal, 6 Olivier Missoup, 5 Kris Chesney, 4 Esteban Lozada, 3 Tonga Leaaetoa, 2 Jawad Djoudi, 1 Saimone Taumoepeau.
Replacements:16 Sebastien Bruno, 17 Laurent Emmanuelli, 18 Davit Kubriashvili, 19 Damien Tussac, 20 Felipe Contepomi, 21 Mafi Kefu, 22 Anthony Giacobazzi, 23 Tim Ryan.

Date: Thursday, January 14
Venue: Vicarage Road, Watford
Kick-off:19:45 GMT
Referee: Neil Paterson