Saracens v Worcester, Aviva Premiership, September 18
Sarries welcome Worcester to Watford
September 16, 2011
Saracens fly-half Owen Farrell has been benched for this weekend's game against Worcester © Getty Images
Premiership champions Saracens will be hoping to generate some momentum after their hard-earned win at Bath last weekend when they face newly-promoted Worcester Warriors in front of the ESPN cameras at Vicarage Road on Sunday.
Sarries suffered a shock defeat by London Wasps at their home away from home, Wembley, on the opening weekend end of the season but they showed characteristic grit and resilience as they edged out Bath at the Recreation Ground, Owen Farrell landing a last-gasp penalty to nick it for the visitors.
Consequently, they will go into this particular fixture with confidence restored. However, while Worcester were comfortably put away by Gloucester at Kingsholm last weekend, the Warriors showed enough in their opening-round win over Sale that they are not a side to be taken lightly.
Saracens - Player to Watch: Charlie Hodgson has been restricted to just two appearances as a replacement so far this season but, after a couple of impressive cameos, he takes over at fly-half from Owen Farrell. The Premiership's all-time leading points scoring will be intent on making the Sarries No.10 jersey his own.
Saracens - Team News: There is only one other change to the side which edged out London Irish last weekend, with Joe Maddock set to make his first start of the season after being preferred to James Short on the left wing.
Worcester - Player to Watch: Chris Jones will be hoping to make an impression after being handed his first start since arriving at Worcester from Sale Sharks over the summer, replacing James Percival in the second-row for the trip to Watford.
Worcester- Team News: Dale Rasmussen is suspended for a week for striking an opponent so Alex Crockett will start alongside Alex Grove in midfield. Also in the backs, Jonny Arr and Andy Goode return to the half-backs. In the pack, as well as the addition of Jones, Matt Kvesic starts at blindside flanker in place of the injured Neil Best, whilst there s a start for Bruce Douglas at tight-head prop.
Key Battle: Two of the most experienced playmakers in English rugby go head-to-head on Sunday, with Charlie Hodgson squaring up to Andy Goode. The outcome of this fascinating duel between two former England internationals will most likely determine the outcome of the game.
Trivia: Hugh Vyvyan will extend his all-time Premiership appearance record to 239 if he is sprung from the Sarries bench this weekend.
Stats: Charlie Hodgson has scored a staggering 1,876 points in the top flight.
"Our players don't pick and choose when they get up for games. They just get up for it every week and they prepare well, whether it's at Twickenham or wherever."
"Saracens also have a very definite attacking strategy. The rugby world know how Saracens play, it is just a question of stopping them. They are very efficient and organised."
Prediction: Worcester have already proven that they can compete at this level but they do not have the quality to go and beat the champions in their own backyard. Comfortable home win.
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