May 09, 2015
Saracens vs Exeter Chiefs - Match Preview
Saracens host the Exeter Chiefs at Allianz Park on Sunday, as the race for the Premiership Top 4 hots up.
In what has been billed as one of the biggest games staged at Sarries new home, we preview the round 21 clash between this season’s LV=Cup finalists.
Mark McCall’s side head into the crunch round 21 clash on the back of a frustrating defeat away to Northampton Saints. As it stands a maximum point victory will guarantee Saracens participation in the Aviva Premiership Rugby semi-finals for a sixth successive year - less if other results go their way.
Sarries have had a two week period to stew over the loss and are looking to register a hat-trick of wins against Exeter this season after two wins against Rob Baxter’s side in the LV=Cup.
Exeter Chiefs have lost their last two matches: at Gloucester in the semi-final of the European Challenge Cup and at Wasps in Aviva Premiership Rugby. Exeter’s only victory on the road in the tournament since November was 32-21 at Harlequins in round 15.
The two clubs have already met three times this season with The Chiefs victorious at Sandy Park in Premiership Rugby in November but Saracens taking both encounters in the Anglo-Welsh Cup at Allianz Park in February and in the final at Northampton in March. Exeter’s only
previous victory on Saracens’ soil was 23-9 at Vicarage Road in Premiership Rugby in October 2010.
Skipper Alistair Hargreaves: “It has turned into a huge game, the biggest game, it's an absolute do or die for us, so we need all the support we can get.
“Our fans give us a massive boost, we rely on them heavily. Hopefully we can get a massive turnout and hopefully we can put a good result in and a good performance in for them.
Centre Chris Wyles: “Sunday is a huge game for us. With that defeat to Northampton we definitely need a big result against Exeter.
"It’s very obvious that if you look at the league standings that we need a result, and hopefully build on that against London Welsh next weekend.”
Rob Baxter, Chiefs Director of Rugby: “Saracens, we know, are a very good side and they don’t run away from what they are good at. They don’t mind telling you what their strengths are and they try to enforce them on you every time you play them.
"We have had a couple of really good fixtures against them this year and I think our boys have a great respect for them because we like to think of ourselves as a hard working club and Saracens think the same.”
Skipper, Dean Mumm: “If you look at the way the table is and the games everyone else has then it is a vital game for us to get the points in. It’s obviously a big game in terms of our aspirations of being in the top four.
“There is pressure on Saracens as a side to make it into the top four, so it is a key game for them too.”
- 1 – Number of wins Exeter Chiefs have recorded on the road away to Saracens
- 14 – Tries scored from Chiefs No8 Thomas Waldrom, the most in the Aviva Premiership so far this season
- 100 – Saracens appearances George Kruis will have made after Sunday’s game.
Men to watch
Saracens – Jamie George
Jamie’s performances in the Saracens No2 jersey this season have won many admirers. The 24-year old Saracens academy product was many peoples hooker of this season’s European Champions Cup. His form in the Aviva Premiership has been equally impressive, with the Welwyn born front rower having played 1421 minutes in Sarries campaign.
England honours can’t be too far away from the impressive George, and his match up against Chiefs hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie will be a mouth-watering prospect.
Exeter Chiefs – Sam Hill
The performances of Chiefs young bolter Henry Slade have deservedly won praise from coach’s and pundits alike, but the work of Slade’s midfield partner Sam Hill has been equally as impressive. A dangerous runner, and strong tackler, Hill’s importance in the heart of the Chiefs midfield is imperative. He offers a great blend to the tactical games of Steenson and Slade and is a dangerous player the Sarries defence will have to keep an eye out for.
15 Alex Goode; 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Chris Wyles, 11 David Strettle; 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Richard Wigglesworth ©; 1 Mako Vunipola, 2 Jamie George, 3 Petrus Du Plessis, 4 George Kruis, 5 Maro Itoje; 6 Kelly Brown, 7 Jacques Burger, 8 Jackson Wray.
Replacements: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Rhys Gill, 18 James Johnston, 19 Alistair Hargreaves, 20 Ernst Joubert, 21 Neil de Kock, 22 Owen Farrell, 23 Nick Tompkins.
15 Byron McGuigan; 14 Ian Whitten, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Sam Hill, 11 Matt Jess, 10 Gareth Steenson, 9 Will Chudley; 1 Ben Moon, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 3 Tomas Francis, 4 Dean Mumm ©, 5 Mitch Lees; 6 Dave Ewers, 7 Ben White, 8 Thomas Waldrom
Replacements: 16 Jack Yeandle, 17 Carl Rimmer, 18 Alex Brown, 19 Damian Welch, 20 Kai Horstmann, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 Fetu’u Vainikolo, 23 Max Bodilly.