Premiership: Saracens at full strength for semi-final while Harlequins make two changes

·4-min read
 Credit: PA Images
Credit: PA Images

Saracens are at full strength for their Premiership semi-final against Harlequins on Saturday after resting their first choice squad in last weekend’s heavy defeat to Gloucester.

Director of rugby Mark McCall has named a side full of experience for the big occasion, with Sarries ready to take on their neighbours on Saturday afternoon.

Mako Vunipola, Jamie George and Vincent Koch start in a powerful front-row with Maro Itoje making his 150th appearance for the club in the second-row, and he will be accompanied by Tim Swinson.

Theo McFarland returns to blindside flanker, with Ben Earl at openside following his Gallagher Player of the Season Award on Tuesday evening. Billy Vunipola, as ever, will be at the base of the scrum.

Aled Davies and captain Owen Farrell will look to manage the game as half-backs, with Nick Tompkins and Elliot Daly once again combining in the midfield.

The top try-scorer in the league Max Malins will be on the left wing, with Sean Maitland back on the right and Alex Goode at full-back.

There is plenty of big-game experience on the bench, with Nick Isiekwe, Alex Lozowski and Duncan Taylor all ready to make their mark when needed.

Huw Jones and Cadan Murley return

Meanwhile, Harlequins‘ coaching group has made two changes this week as the side travel to London rivals Saracens for what is set to be a mouth-watering Premiership play-off clash at StoneX Stadium.

With an unchanged pack, Quins see the return of wing Cadan Murley and full-back Huw Jones in the back three, with Tyrone Green retaining a starting role but shifted onto the wing for this week’s semi-final.

Wing Louis Lynagh misses out on selection this week due to injury, seeing Tommy Allan and Luke Northmore retain their spots amongst the replacements.

There are three further tweaks to the matchday squad amongst the replacements. Forwards Simon Kerrod, Matas Jurevicius and Tom Lawday all return, looking to bolster the team with their impact from the bench.

Form: This is Saracens 12th appearance in the semi-final stage of Premiership Rugby where their record is won seven, lost four. Saracens’ only defeat in their last six appearances in the semi-finals was 16-18 at Exeter in 2017. Sarries’ only defeat in their six previous home semi-finals was 13-27 to Northampton in 2013. Saracens’ seven game winning run in Premiership Rugby ended with their 7-54 defeat at Gloucester on Saturday. Harlequins have played in five previous Premiership Rugby semi-final matches, winning two and losing three. Quins have won just once away from home at this stage, beating Bristol 43-36 after extra time at Ashton Gate last season. Harlequins have lost two of their last three fixtures in Premiership Rugby and have only won once away from home in any competition since mid-March: 41-14 at London Irish in Gallagher Premiership Rugby on 3 April. The two clubs have met just once before in a Premiership Rugby semi-final with Saracens running out victors 31-17 at StoneX Stadium in 2014.

Prediction: Saracens by 10

The teams:

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Nick Tompkins, 11 Max Malins , 10 Owen Farrell (c), 9 Aled Davies, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Ben Earl, 6 Theo McFarland, 5 Tim Swinson, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Jamie George, 1 Mako Vunipola
Replacements: 16 Kapeli Pifeleti, 17 Eroni Mawi, 18 Alec Clarey, 19 Nick Isiekwe, 20 Andy Christie, 21 Ivan van Zyl, 22 Alex Lozowski, 23 Duncan Taylor

Harlequins: 15 Huw Jones, 14 Tyrone Green, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Cadan Murley, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Danny Care, 8 Alex Dombrandt, 7 Will Evans, 6 Stephan Lewies (c), 5 Hugh Tizard, 4 Matt Symons, 3 Will Collier, 2 Jack Walker, 1 Joe Marler
Replacements: 16 Joe Gray, 17 Simon Kerrod, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 Matas Jurevicius, 20 Tom Lawday, 21 Lewis Gjaltema, 22 Tommy Allan, 23 Luke Northmore

Date: Saturday, June 11
Venue: StoneX Stadium
Kick-off: 13:30 BST (12:30 GMT)
Referee: Luke Pearce
Assistant referees: Christophe Ridley, Anthony Woodthorpe
TMO: Ian Tempest

READ MORE: The short side: Premiership and URC semi-final showdowns and Bok back-row battle

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