Sarries take aim at desperate Leeds
February 18, 2011
David Strettle will hope for some chances against Leeds © Getty Images
Saracens reignited their charge for the play-offs with last weekend's victory over Northampton at Franklin's Gardens and now turn their attention to bottom-placed Leeds at Vicarage Road on Sunday.
Sarries' 29-15 victory over the Saints strengthened their place in the top two of the Aviva Premiership and struck another psychological blow in their war against Jim Mallinder's men, but they will not have it all their own way against a Leeds outfit who have rediscovered their competitive streak in recent weeks.
Director of rugby Andy Key may have been ushered through the exit this week but with Neil Back still on board and only three points between themselves and Newcastle, it is all to play for as far as the visitors are concerned.
Saracens - Player to Watch: Captain Steve Borthwick returns from the shoulder injury that has ruled him out of the past four games and is playing catch-up in his battle to force his way back into the England reckoning.
Saracens - Team News: Scrum-half Richard Wigglesworth, centre Michael Tagicakibau and winger James Short all come back into the starting line-up for the match. Jamie George is also given a start at hooker with Schalk Brits named on the bench, while Andy Saull comes in for Jacques Burger who has been ruled out for eight weeks with a knee injury. On the bench, Matt Stevens continues his comeback while Hugh Vyvyan, Jackson Wray, Neil de Kock and Rodd Penney are among those named.
Leeds - Player to Watch: Fly-half Adrian Jarvis kicked three penalties on his debut off the bench last week and is handed the No.10 jersey this time around.
Leeds - Team News: England squad member Steve Thompson and Hendre Fourie are recalled by head coach Neil Back. USA international Mike MacDonald also returns to the starting line up in place of Gareth Hardy whilst Daniel Browne will start in the second row in place of the injured Tom Denton. Jarvis steps in for Ceiron Thomas who is named on the bench having picked up a knock against the Tigers.
Trivia: When Saracens dipped into their pocket to sign Charlie Hodgson from Sale, they ensured that the Premiership's all-time leading scorer would be plying his trade in a black jersey. The Sale man has 1,758 points to date.
Stats: Saracens winger David Strettle has beaten more defenders, 23, than any other player in the Premiership this season.
"Before last weekend's game at Northampton, we had 9 matches remaining in the regular Premiership season - or 9 projects as we are thinking of it. Northampton was project one, Sunday's game against Leeds is project two and we have had a great week of preparation." - Sarries director of rugby Mark McCall goes back to school
"I don't believe for one minute they will go down and will be in the Premiership next year and let's hope they can grow from there." - Departing Leeds director of rugby Andy Key offers the side his support
Fantasy: Saracens hooker Schalk Brits is one of two forwards in the top try-scorer charts for this season. Have you got him in your side for the ESPNscrum Fantasy Rugby Game?
Prediction: Sarries will have too much firepower for Leeds, who will be hoping for another bonus-point and a Newcastle loss.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The time for tinkering is over - England must nail their colours to the mast in key positions, writes Phil Vickery
"New Zealand-born Joe Schmidt has forged the Irish into a street-smart, well- prepared side," John Mitchell on the Irish renaissance
"I am bored of hearing 'I can't fault the effort'. Let us take that for granted and look for some quality." John Taylor writes
Reports comparing the 2014 Wallabies with their rabble-like predecessors of 2005 are unfair and self-serving, Greg Growden reports