Planet Rugby

Preview: Saracens v Bath

03rd May 2013 00:26

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Charlie Hodgson Saracens

Starting at 10: Charlie Hodgson

Charlie Hodgson will start at fly-half for Saracens in Saturday's Premiership clash with Bath at Allianz Park.

Hodgson, Chris Wyles, Neil de Kock and Andy Saull all come into the starting line-up.

Wyles replaces the rested Alex Goode at full-back while Hodgson comes in at fly-half with Owen Farrell switching to inside centre in place of the injured Brad Barritt.

There is also a change in the back-row with Saull returning to the side, with Ernst Joubert missing the game due to injury.

Meanwhile, Bath have made no changes to the starting line-up that secured a bonus-point victory over Leicester Tigers in their last outing.

All Black Stephen Donald partners Springbok Michael Claassens in the half-backs, as the two make their final appearances in the Blue, Black and White.

Try-scorers from the Leicester game, Semesa Rokoduguni and Horacio Agulla, start out wide on the wings, with Kyle Eastmond and Ben Williams continuing to build their centre partnership in the midfield. Rising England U20s star Ollie Devoto, who has recently signed on for more time with the Bath Academy, remains at full-back.

Springbok Francois Louw captains the team from the blindside flank with Guy Mercer, who it was announced this week has extended his contract at Bath, on the openside. The hugely experienced Scotland international and British and Irish Lion Simon Taylor has his last outing for the club from the base of the scrum.

Dominic Day and Dave Attwood provide power in a highly effective second-row combination, whilst the international trio of Paul James, Rob Webber and David Wilson scrum down in the front row.

Form: Bath sit seventh in the Aviva Premiership ahead of a final day trip to league leaders Saracens and know only a win will give them an outside chance of finishing in the top six and qualifying for Europe's elite club competition. Even victory might not be enough with sixth-placed Exeter Chiefs hosting Gloucester Rugby in the knowledge that victory will render any Bath heroics meaningless. Saracens are already guaranteed a home semi-final in the play-offs but will be determined to bounce back from their Heineken Cup semi-final defeat at the hands of Toulon at Twickenham last weekend.

The teams:

Saracens: 15 Chris Wyles, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Joel Tomkins, 12 Owen Farrell, 11 David Strettle, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Neil de Kock, 8 Jackson Wray, 7 Andy Saull, 6 Kelly Brown, 5 Alistair Hargreaves, 4 Steve Borthwick (c), 3 Matt Stevens, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Mako Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 John Smit, 17 Rhys Gill, 18 Carlos Nieto, 19 Mouritz Botha, 20 George Kruis, 21 Richard Wigglesworth, 22 Duncan Taylor, 23 Joe Maddock.

Bath: 15 Ollie Devoto, 14 Horacio Agulla, 13 Ben Williams, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Semesa Rokoduguni, 10 Stephen Donald, 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Simon Taylor, 7 Guy Mercer, 6 Francois Louw (c), 5 Dave Attwood, 4 Dominic Day, 3 David Wilson, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Paul James.
Replacements: 16 Ross Batty, 17 Nathan Catt, 18 Anthony Perenise, 19 Will Spencer, 20 Mat Gilbert, 21 Nick Koster, 22 Peter Stringer, 23 Tom Biggs.

Date: Saturday, May 4
Venue: Allianz Park
Kick-off: 14:30
Referee: Martin Fox
Assistant Referees: Nigel Carrick and Roy Maybank
TMO: Graham Hughes.

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