Preview: Saracens v Bristol

Saracens welcome back three World Cup stars into their starting line-up for Sunday’s EDF Energy Cup clash against Bristol at Vicarage Road.

Andy Farrell, Moses Rauluni and Kameli Ratuvou are all named in the XV for the clash which sees the two unbeaten teams in Pool D go head to head. Both sides go into the game knowing victory will give them a great chance of making the semi-finals of the competition.

England centre Farrell returns to the team after shaking off the calf injury that prevented him from featuring in the knock-out stages of the World Cup, while Fiji captain Rauluni and countryman Ratuvou both feature after an impressive campaign in France that saw them reach the quarter-finals.

England U20 back row Andy Saull could make his Saracens debut after being named on the bench for the game along with Kris Chesney, Neil de Kock, Glen Jackson and Adam Powell.

“It’s good to welcome back some of those guys for what we know will be a tough game against Bristol,” explained Director of Rugby Alan Gaffney.

“Both sides go into the game knowing a victory will put them in a great position so it’s sure to be a fiercely contested match.

“We’ve changed things around again this week to rotate the squad which is something we have to do if we are to compete in all three competitions.

“It’s also important that those who are short of game time get some action and with a series of big games in the next few weeks, we’ve got some guys on the bench who will get a run out at some point.

“Players like Faz [Farrell] need to get their eye in. He’s been with England since June and has been playing a different brand of rugby to that which Saracens play, so he will need a bit of time to adjust.

“Moses came off the bench last week and demonstrated some of the form which made him a stand out player at the World Cup while Kameli is another who needs some time.

“We’re putting out a side that is capable of winning the game and it should be an entertaining game – and with the prospect of being just three games away from a Twickenham final, I know it’s a match that the players are really looking forward to.”

Fabio Ongaro misses the match with a hamstring injury while Cobus Visagie, who is back in full training, is likely to feature in the Guinness A League match at Harlequins on Monday; Brent Russell, Francisco Leonelli and Matias Aguero are all back in light training.

Form: The match of the round in the EDF Energy Cup pits together the top two sides in the Pool D table. Saracens’ only loss in their last five outings was 30-34 at Sale in the Premiership two weeks ago. Likewise, Bristol Rugby have also lost just once in their last five encounters: 18-24 at Harlequins on 6 October.
Bristol have won twice in seven previous visits to Vicarage Road in all competitions: 28-26 in May 2002 and 19-13 in February 2006.

Saracens: 15 Richard Haughton, 14 Rodd Penney, 13 Kevin Sorrell (c), 12 Andy Farrell, 11 Kameli Ratuvou, 10 Gordon Ross, 9 Moses Rauluni, 8 Ben Skirving, 7 David Seymour, 6 Paul Gustard, 5 Hugh Vyvyan, 4 Tom Ryder, 3 Cencus Johnston, 2 Matt Cairns, 1 Nick Lloyd.
Replacements: 16 Andy Kyriacou, 17 Tom Mercey, 18 Kris Chesney, 19 Andy Saull, 20 Neil de Kock, 21 Glen Jackson, 22 Adam Powell.

Bristol: tba

Date: Sunday, 4 November
Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
Venue: Edgeley Park
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth (England)
Touch judges: Paul Dickens (England), David Kurk (England)
Assessor: Brian Campsall (Wales)
Television match official: Matt Peters (England)

 

365 Digital

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