March 20 2019
The 6 Nations is finally over and normal service is about to resume. This Saturday we return to last season’s least favourite venue (according to the end of season poll), the London Stadium (once the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Stadium but now home to West Ham Utd). So we all have to make our way to Stratford somehow (great because there are no direct trains from Herts – everything is going via Seven Sisters wouldn’t you know), walk about a mile from the station to the stadium, queue up for ages to get in, pay a fortune for indifferent food and drink and take our binoculars to watch a rugby match in an athletic’s stadium. Why do they do this to us? Ah well, c’est la vie!
Once again our opponents are Harlequins (have we ever played them at Allianz?). Their supporters are even less keen on the trip than we are so it would seem! Quins have had a bit of revival this season under Gussie and are currently sitting proudly in 3rd place, 10 points behind Sarries in second, but just 2 points ahead of Gloucester in 4th. So we can expect both teams to be really “up” for this one, and Sarries will need to be at their best to get win they need.
Saracens have uncharacteristically lost their last 2 games (that dreadful performance away to Bath followed by the PRC Final at Franklin’s Gardens last weekend) while Quins have continued their up and down form, beating Bath away before losing to rivals Gloucester at home. Quins have been relatively unaffected by International call-ups this season but have a bit of a crisis at scrum half with both Danny Care & Charlie Mulchrome injured (they have secured former Sarrie Luke Baldwin on short term loan from Wuss). They have 2 more ex-Sarries in Nick Auterac and Nathan Earle. Earle has thrived at Quins and has scored a total of 11 tries for the club this season. Quins also have one of the real “finds” of the season in Alex Dombrandt. And Joe Marler seems happy with himself once again. While Quins cupboard is rather bare at scrum half, they have riches at fly half with James Lang, Marcus Smith and Dimitri Catrakilis all competing for the shirt. I assume the Quins team will be something like:-
Mike Brown, Nathan Earle, Joe Marchant, Alofa Alofa, Ross Chisholm, James Lang, Luke Baldwin, Joe Marler, Dave Ward, Will Collier, Matt Symons, James Horwill, Jack Clifford, Chris Robshaw, Alex Dombrandt
As for Sarries, I think McCall will go for his strongest team in preparation for the European quarter final next weekend. Liam Williams and Sean Maitland return on a high and have both hit a rich vein of form which they will hopefully be able to bring back to London with them. The England guys have mainly been doing well, especially George Kruis who is back to his best, and Jamie George who has cemented the number 2 shirt for England. Back in the Sarries’ fold, hopefully without the burden of captaincy, Owen should be in a better place and Billy is slowly but surely getting back to the Billy we know and love. Spencer also did himself no harm with a little cameo at the end last week. So assuming there are no new injuries (and hopeful that Maro will be fit) we will probably see something like:-
Alex Goode, Liam Williams, Nick Tompkins, Brad Barritt, Sean Maitland, Owen Farrell, Ben Spencer, Baz Barrington, Jamie George, Vincent Koch, Maro Itoje (fingers crossed – if not Skelton), George Kruis, Jackson Wray, Schalk Burger, Billy Vunipola.
A Saracens win would virtually seal a home semi final, a Quins win and everything is up for grabs! Let’s hope the side gels with the return of the Internationals and Sarries are able to put this one to bed!pqs: qs:
Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 2019:04:01:12:05:14 by Darraghgirl.