Planet Rugby

Preview: Saracens v Exeter Chiefs

21st February 2014 11:00

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Joel Tomkins Saracens 2013

Joel Tomkins: Back from injury for Sarries

Saracens boss Mark McCall has made several changes to his side for Sunday's clash with Exeter Chiefs at Allianz Park.

With the club celebrating it's one year birthday at Allianz Park, McCall has rotated his squad after their hard fought 10-15 victory away to Sale Sharks last Friday.

In the pack, Richard Barrington, Schalk Brits and James Johnston come into the side, with Jamie George and Matt Stevens reverting to the bench - Mako Vunipola is away on international duty with England.

Elsewhere, England Saxons lock George Kruis partners England international Mouritz Botha in the second row, whilst in the back row Jackson Wray and Kelly Brown pack down alongside No.8 Ernst Joubert who captains the side.

In the back-line, Ben Ransom starts at full-back replacing England international Alex Goode. On the wings Chris Wyles comes into the side for David Strettle (who is rested) and joins Chris Ashton on the flanks.

Joel Tomkins makes his long awaited return to the Saracens starting XV at outside centre and is partnered by Brad Barritt in the midfield.

Charlie Hodgson wears the number 10 shirt and is joined by familiar half-back partner Richard Wigglesworth in the halves.

Meanwhile, Exeter boss Rob Baxter has made three changes to his side that lost narrowly to Bath last weekend.

Baxter sticks with an unchanged pack, but behind there are changes. Henry Slade comes in at inside centre, Phil Dollman switches to full-back and there is a start for Tongan international Fetu'u Vainikolo on the right wing.

On the bench, Slade's promotion offers a first Premiership opportunity for Welshman Ceri Sweeney, whilst experienced Kiwi centre Jason Shoemark is also named in the travelling 23.

Form: Saracens head into this clash desperate to atone for their loss to London Irish at home a fortnight ago - their first home loss of the season. Exeter find themselves in a tricky run of form, losing four games on the bounce ahead of Sunday's match-up.

The teams:

Saracens: 15 Ben Ransom, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Joel Tomkins, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 Chris Wyles, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Ernst Joubert (c), 7 Kelly Brown, 6 Jackson Wray, 5 Mouritz Botha, 4 George Kruis, 3 James Johnston, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Richard Barrington.
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Nick Auterac, 18 Matt Stevens, 19 Steve Borthwick, 20 Jacques Burger, 21 Neil De Kock, 22 Marcelo Bosch, 23 Tim Streather.

Exeter Chiefs: 15 Phil Dollman, 14 Fetu'u Vainikolo, 13 Ian Whitten, 12 Henry Slade, 11 Matt Jess, 10 Gareth Steenson, 9 Dave Lewis, 8 Dave Ewers, 7 Ben White, 6 Tom Johnson, 5 Damian Welch, 4 Dean Mumm (capt), 3 Hoani Tui, 2 Jack Yeandle, 1 Ben Moon.
Replacements: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Carl Rimmer, 18 Alex Brown, 19 Don Armand, 20 Kai Horstmann, 21 Haydn Thomas, 22 Ceri Sweeney, 23 Jason Shoemark.

Date: Sunday 23rd February
Venue: Allianz Park
Kick-off: 1515 (local and GMT)
Referee: Wayne Barnes (Eng)
Assistant referees: Nigel Carrick, Paul Burton (both Eng)
TMO: Rowan Kitt (Eng)

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