Saracens v Exeter Chiefs Premiership Preview

Aviva Premiership Rugby champions Saracens have already qualified for a 4th semi-final appearance in the competition but Exeter are also still in with a chance of reaching the knockout stages.


Saracens only loss in their last five Premiership matches was 19-24 to Harlequins at Wembley Stadium on 31 March.


This game will be the 156th and last in the Premiership at Vicarage Road unless Sarries do not secure a home semi-final.


Exeter Chiefs realistically require a victory in this game to give themselves any chance of making the Aviva Premiership Rugby semi-finals for the first time.


The Chiefs have won their last four away matches in the Premiership.


Saracens have already beaten Exeter twice this season: in the Premiership at Sandy Park and in the Anglo-Welsh Cup at Vicarage Road.


The Chiefs only previous victory against Saracens came at Watford in October 2010.


Brad Barritt returns to the Saracens side after missing the victory at Newcastle Falcons while Carlos Nieto also comes into the side in the front row. On the bench, John Smit and Joe Maddock both return from injury.


“Our efforts so far this season have already earned us a place in the semi-finals of the competition,” said Director of Rugby Mark McCall.


“Who we play and where will become clear by the final whistle on Saturday. The challenge for us is to continue to build momentum as we move into knockout rugby.


“Exeter are a very physical side with powerful ball carriers and, under the guidance of Rob Baxter, have enjoyed a very good campaign in the Premiership and we know it will be a very hard game. But we have had two excellent weeks of preparation and are looking forward to the game.”


Injuries to Kiwi pair Hoani Tui and Jason Shoemark mean they are ruled out of action for Exeter this weekend, so Craig Mitchell and Sireli Naqelevuki are handed starting roles at prop and centre respectively.


Whilst Gonzalo Camacho’s three-week suspension means Phil Dollman is switched from full-back to the wing and Luke Arscott returns in the No.15 jersey.


The other changes in personnel see former Sarries player Kevin Barrett team-up with Gareth Steenson in a new-look half-back pairing; Haydn Thomas and Ignacio Mieres drop to the bench where prop Chris Budgen is also included.


Hooker Neil Clark is poised to make his 150th league appearance for the club if he appears from the bench.


Match : Saracens v Exeter Chiefs
Date : Saturday 5 May
Venue : Vicarage Road,
Kick Off :2pm
Live on : N/A
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth (49th Premiership game)


Teams


Saracens


15 Alex Goode , 14 David Strettle , 13 Chris Wyles , 12 Brad Barritt , 11 James Short , 10 Owen Farrell , 9 Richard Wigglesworth , 1 Rhys Gill , 2 Schalk Brits , 3 Carlos Nieto , 4 Steve Borthwick (c) , 5 Mouritz Botha , 6 Jackson Wray , 7 Justin Melck , 8 Ernst Joubert


Replacements : 16 Jamie George , 17 John Smit , 18 Matt Stevens , 19 George Kruis , 20 Will Fraser , 21 Neil de Kock , 22 Charlie Hodgson , 23 Joe Maddock


Exeter Chiefs


15 Luke Arscott , 14 Phil Dollman , 13 Sireli Naqelevuki , 12 Bryan Rennie , 11 Matt Jess , 10 Gareth Steenson , 9 Kevin Barrett , 1 Ben Moon , 2 Chris Whitehead , 3 Craig Mitchell , 4 Tom Hayes (capt) , 5 James Hanks , 6 Tom Johnson , 7 James Scaysbrook , 8 Richard Baxter


16 Neil Clark , 17 Brett Sturgess , 18 Chris Budgen , 19 Aly Muldowney , 20 Ben White , 21 Haydn Thomas , 22 Ignacio Mieres , 23 Nic Sestaret

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