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GRAB A TIGER BY THE TALE


By Darraghgirl
November 21 2018

The autumn international window is finally closing – but with it comes probably our biggest challenge – a visit to Welford Road to take on Leicester Tigers. After recent events they may be wounded tigers but we all know that a tiger is at its most dangerous when it is hurt.

For Saracens, this period has gone far better than we could have hoped. The team are still unbeaten in all competitions and a rather fortunate, but hard earned 5 pointer against Sale last Saturday has kept us at the top of the table (alongside an equally fortunate Exeter Chiefs) with Gloucester now a distant 11 points behind in 3rd. In contrast, Leicester sit in 7th place with exactly half the number of league points to Saracens (17 as against 34) having lost last Friday to Gloucester down at Castle Grim.

How different to last season when Sarries were being written off after a series of defeats which ultimately extended to 7 (including the double by Clermont) however on that occasion it was Tigers who felt the force when the dam broke and Sarries gave all their supporters a lovely Christmas present with victory in the Tigers den. (Do tigers have dens?)

Eddie has done us a little favour by giving us Loz and Mike Rhodes back (although perhaps unexpectedly he has hung on to Wiggy alongside Faz, Jamie George & Maro). In addition, Sean Maitland starts again for Scotland against Argentina, Liam Williams will almost certainly be involved for Wales against South Africa (who will doubtless call upon Vincent Koch) after his performance last week, Titi will presumably be representing Uncle Sam in Ireland and Vailanu will doubtless represent Tonga again somewhere. Tolofua seems to be out of favour with both France and Sarries at the moment! Stay safe boys – we want you all back fit and well.

Leicester have donated a number of their senior backs to the England cause: Ben Youngs, George Ford, Jonny May and Manu Tuilagi but are spared in the forwards. However Tigers will also be missing other internationals: Matt Toomua and Tatafu Polota-Nau (Australia), Jonah Holmes (Wales) Valentino Mapapalangi (Tonga) and Campese Ma’afu (Fiji) and are missing David Denton, Ellis Genge, Mathew Tait and Telusa Veainu to injury. Leicester coach Geordan Murphy pointed out that this amounts to 484 International Caps-worth of experience that will be unavailable to him on Sunday.

There is no doubt that Tigers will be “up” for this one! Will Spencer mentioned an “extra edge” to training this week and Murphy was “bullish” saying "We still have plenty of experience in this squad, even with our international lads away, and they've been great during the past few months at leading our younger guys through a tough patch."

I would image the Tigers team will be similar to last week given the general lack of choice so something like Worth, Thompstone, Smith, Eastman, Olowofela, Joe Ford and White in the rather depleted backs, and Bateman, T Youngs, Cole, Spencer, Kitchener, Williams, Thompson and Kalamafoni in the much stronger forwards.

And what about Saracens?  Well I have to admit to being pleasantly surprised by the performance of some of our “stand-ins”. Tom Woolstencroft has proved a find at Hooker – this will be quite a test for him – and Christian Judge has done all he has been asked to do. Joel Kpoku looks the real deal. The prospect of Joel and Maro alongside each other in a couple of years is one to savour. And the evergreen Chris Wyles will probably need to start again (and why not?) along with that other OAP who has given just about everything to the cause over these past 5 weeks – Schalk Burger. He deserves a week off next week but for now we need one more big effort from the guy. The other dilemma is where to play Loz? I think I would play him at 10 ahead of Malins (although Max had a better game last week). So I think the men-in-black (or presumably red) will look something like this:

Goode, Lewington, Tompkins, Barritt, Wyles, Lozowski, Spencer; Barrington, Woolstencroft, Judge, Kpoku, Skelton, Rhodes, Burger, Wray. I just have a tiny sneaky feeling we could see Mako on the bench – but maybe that’s wishful thinking?

The referee is Karl Dickson, one of the best of the up-and-coming crop and a man whose experience of playing the game gives him better insight into the dark arts than most of his peers. It should be a good game and it’s on TV for those not travelling. Over to you for the report Jeremy.

 

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GRAB A TIGER BY THE TALE
TheSaracens.com (IP Logged)
21/11/2018 18:38
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Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2018:12:03:13:40:27 by Darraghgirl.

 
Re: GRAB A TIGER BY THE TALE
Highbury Saracen (IP Logged)
21/11/2018 18:47
Great preview!
I promise not to have too many beers with your reporter before the game! smiling smiley

European champions 2016 & 2017

 
Re: GRAB A TIGER BY THE TALE
Darraghgirl (IP Logged)
21/11/2018 18:53
Quote:
Highbury Saracen
Great preview!
I promise not to have too many beers with your reporter before the game! smiling smiley

I will hold you to that!!

 
Re: GRAB A TIGER BY THE TALE
The Bard (IP Logged)
21/11/2018 21:23
Now Mako on the bench would be an incredibly welcome sight!

 
Re: GRAB A TIGER BY THE TALE
TonyTaff (IP Logged)
22/11/2018 17:11
Splendid preview!

I am not sure that constraining beer consumption is an astute tactic in recruiting and retaining our scribes!



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2018:11:22:17:13:59 by TonyTaff.

 
Re: GRAB A TIGER BY THE TALE
Highbury Saracen (IP Logged)
23/11/2018 14:25
Good news TT our correspondent for game is indeed meeting us in local hero for a couple of beers before game! smiling smiley

European champions 2016 & 2017

 
Re: GRAB A TIGER BY THE TALE
SarrieSaint (IP Logged)
23/11/2018 15:11
Excellent preview. I was interested by Leicester Tigers missing experience stat.

484 looks like it includes the game still to be played this weekend unless I added up wrong or wiki appearances numbers are wrong.

Sarries are currently missing (to duty or injury) 16 Internationals with 449 caps + 9 if you count like Leicester Tigers! I think Bosch is dropped rather than injured but if that's not the case he'd add another 39 caps so not that far off missing the same experience.

 
Re: GRAB A TIGER BY THE TALE
Stopsy (IP Logged)
23/11/2018 17:12
Thanks for the preview,

 
Re: GRAB A TIGER BY THE TALE
TonyTaff (IP Logged)
25/11/2018 17:05
Thanks for the preview.

I regard Premiership games played during the International Windows as an abomination.

We have come away with 9points, huzzah! These matches should be for development squads.

Too many snouts in the trough sad smiley

721.05 (*) donated to the Saracens Foundation due to visits to the Sarries frontpage [www.rugbynetwork.net]

Please read and submit articles for publication. (*) As at October 31, 2018.

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