Saracens v Gloucester Rugby Premiership Preview

Saracens host Gloucester at Allianz Park

Saracens have named Scotland centre Duncan Taylor in their starting line up for this weekend’s Aviva Premiership match against Gloucester Rugby at Allianz Park.

The in-form centre comes into the side at outside centre and will partner skipper Brad Barritt in the heart of the Sarries midfield. Barritt will lead the side in the absence of Alistair Hargreaves, who is ruled out of the game with an ankle injury.

Elsewhere in the Sarries backline, Ben Ransom rotates with Marcelo Bosch at full-back, and joins Chris Wyles (left wing) and Mike Ellery (right wing) in the back three.

At half-back, Richard Wigglesworth comes into the side at scrumhalf with Ben Spencer reverting to the bench. Wigglesworth will partner Charlie Hodgson in the halves.

Up front, Rhys Gill starts at loosehead prop and joins Schalk Brits and Petrus Du Plessis in the front row. USA international Hayden Smith comes into the side to replace the injured Alistair Hargreaves, and starts alongside Jim Hamilton at lock. In the back row, Will Fraser starts at openside and will link up with Michael Rhodes (blindside flanker) and Jackson Wray (No8).

On the bench, Jared Saunders, Titi Lamositele and Juan Figallo are the front row cover, whilst loose forwards Jacques Burger and Kelly Brown are also included. Ben Spencer and Nils Mordt offer cover at half-back with Marcelo Bosch the three-quarter replacement.

Saracens conceded 64 points at home to Wasps on Sunday and have only once before conceded more in a game in the professional era – whilst losing 21-66 at Bath in Premiership Rugby in May 2008.

Saracens have never lost successive matches at Allianz Park.

Gloucester Rugby have won their last two Aviva Premiership Rugby encounters, against Bath and Harlequins, and have not won three in a row in the tournament since October 2012.

Gloucester’s only defeat in their last five away games in all tournaments was 10-19 at Exeter in Premiership Rugby on 9th January.

Saracens have lost just one of their last five contests with the Cherry & Whites: 23-24 at Kingsholm on 9 th January 2015, whilst Gloucester’s most recent victory on Saracens’ turf was 25-21 at Vicarage Road in November 2008.

Gloucester have made five changes to the side that beat Harlequins last weekend as the Cherry and Whites lookto make it three wins in a row at Allianz Park having defeated Bath and Quins in their past two outings.

With the Premiership games coming thick and fast, and a number of players still absent due to injury, Gloucester continue to use a rotation policy to spread the workload.

Three of the changes are in the pack, where Nick Wood, Jeremy Thrush and Ross Moriarty come in for Paddy McAllister, Tom Savage and Ben Morgan respectively.

Behind the scrum, Callum Braley gets the nod over Willi Heinz at scrum-half and Mark Atkinson will partner Billy Twelvetrees in the midfield in place of Bill Meakes.

Amongst the replacements, there is a welcome return for Henry Trinder who is back after injuring his hamstring against Harlequins on December 27th.

Following back to back wins over Bath and Harlequins, Director of Rugby David Humphreys admitted to the local media this week that spirits are high in the camp.

“There is a buzz about the camp but, in the same way that we didn’t get too down after the Leicester result, we haven’t got too carried away by how we’ve performed over the last two weeks, two great results.

“It’s good for the squad, good for the mood around the group and, most importantly, good from a confidence point of view. We’ve said for a long time that we know we can compete, but you’ve got to win some games and the last two weeks have been good for us.”

Saracens lost heavily at home to Wasps last Sunday, but Humphreys insists that Gloucester haven’t read too much into that.

“We haven’t really looked at that performance, it was one of those freak results that is very difficult to explain. I think that Wasps were outstanding on the day.

“But we’re well aware that Saracens have been the form team in Europe over the past few months. They’re a good team, they’ve huge quality and that’s why they’ve been top of the Premiership for the last few years.

“So, it’s a huge challenge for us. It’s another big test following Leicester, Bath, Harlequins. Now it’s Saracens, it almost gets harder and harder each week. But all we can do is worry about ourselves, prepare the best we can and make sure the performance this weekend is better than the one last weekend.”

Match : Saracens v Gloucester Rugby
Date : Saturday 20 February
Venue : Allianz Park,
Kick Off : 3pm
Live on: N.A
Match Officials
Referee :Craig Maxwell-Keys (12th Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Robin Goodliffe & Andrew Pearce.
TMO: Rowan Kitt.

Teams

Saracens

15 Ben Ransom , 14 Mike Ellery , 13 Duncan Taylor , 12 Brad Barritt (c) , 11 Chris Wyles , 10 Charlie Hodgson , 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Jackson Wray , 7 Will Fraser , 6 Michael Rhodes, 5 Jim Hamilton , 4 Hayden Smith , 3 Petrus Du Plessis , 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Rhys Gill

Replacements : 16 Jared Saunders , 17 Titi Lamositele , 18 Juan Figallo , 19 Jacques Burger , 20 Kelly Brown , 21 Ben Spencer , 22 Nils Mordt , 23 Marcelo Bosch

Gloucester

Billy Burns; Charlie Sharples, Billy Twelvetrees (capt), Mark Atkinson, Steve McColl; James Hook, Callum Braley; Nick Wood, Richard Hibbard, John Afoa; Jeremy Thrush, Mariano Galarza; Ross Moriarty, Matt Kvesic, Sione Kalamafoni

Replacements: Tom Lindsay, Dan Murphy, Paul Doran-Jones, Tom Savage, Jacob Rowan, Willi Heinz, Henry Trinder, Rob Cook

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