Sarries to battle the Chiefs
October 29, 2010
Jacques Burger returns for Saracens © Getty Images
The challenges keep on coming for new boys Exeter this weekend as they make their way to Vicarage Road to take on a Saracens side unbeaten in the league since the opening day of the season.
Newcastle came close to ending that record last weekend but Alex Goode's boot got Brendan Venter's men through. This week at Watford the airwaves have been dominated by the imminent arrival of Wales, Lions and Strictly Come Dancing star Gavin Henson who has trained with his new teammates but won't be available for action until he is voted off the reality television programme.
Away from glamorous signings, this match should represent a routine assignment for the third placed side who will back themselves to beat a Chiefs outfit who have lost their last three.
Saracens - Player to Watch: Jacques Burger is back in action this week and the brilliant flanker will be crucial to Saracens' attempted dominance at the breakdown.
Saracens - Team News: Nils Mordt, Michael Tagicakibau, Mouritz Botha and Burger all return to the Sarries XV, with Schalk Brits rested. Dave Strettle and Brad Barritt are named on the bench after training with England this week.
Exeter - Player to Watch: Ryan Davis makes his first start for the club at fly-half and the former Bath playmaker has big shoes to fill given the excellent start to the season made by the injured Gareth Steenson.
Exeter - Team News: Aside from Steenson's absence the Chiefs are a settled unit, with Wallabies flanker Peter Kimlin unable to force his way into the starting XV this weekend. Andrew Higgins, Mark Foster and Phil Dollman will provide their cut and thrust in the backs.
Key Battle: It's going to be a game controlled by two young, inexperienced fly-halves and the kicking battle - both from the tee and out of hand - will be vital.
Trivia: Gavin Henson's signing brings the number of non-English qualified players at Saracens to 20.
Stats: Saracens have the best lineout in England right now having won 79 so far this season, Exeter have 60.
Quote Unquote: "It didn't take long for Exeter to make their mark on the Premiership - in fact it only took one game as their performance in round one to beat Gloucester sent out a message to the rest of the competition that they are not here to make up the numbers." - Saracens boss Brendan Venter.
"I know he's desperately looking forward to playing and it's probably just the right time for him to come in. He's had time to settle in, he's got some decent game time under his belt and he's got over a couple of niggly injuries that he had at the start of the season." - Exeter coach Rob Baxter on Davis' inclusion.
Fantasy: Exeter's Tom Johnson takes the field as the highest scoring backrow forward on display, impressive given the talent on the Saracens roster. Could he be an option for your ESPN Premiership Rugby Fantasy Game team?
Prediction: Exeter will give any side in the league a tough afternoon but Saracens have the class and home advantage and will keep their winning run going.
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