Aviva Premiership: Saracens v Exeter Chiefs Preview

Aviva-Premiership-Saracens-Exeter-Preview

Saracens and Exeter will go head-to-head in this weekend's headline Aviva Premiership clash on Sunday the 26th November. 

The reigning champions of Europe this week host last season's Aviva Premiership winners in an epic top of the table clash at Allianz Park. 'Sarries relinquished pole position on the Premiership standings following their disappointing 23-17 reverse to Gloucester at the Kingsholm last Friday, while the Chiefs recorded a comfortable 31-17 win over Harlequins at Sandy Park which saw them head to the summit. With just two-log points separating the sides, the result of this week's showdown is crucial as both teams look to keep the pressure on the rest of England's finest.

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Saracens v Exeter | Sunday 26 November | Allianz Park | 17:00


To Win (80 Mins)
Saracens 6/10 | Draw 17/1 | Chiefs 15/10

Saracens

Considering just how tight this season's Aviva Premiership is turning out to be, Sarries' narrow loss at Gloucester would have been even harder for Mark McCall's men to take. Despite dominating the first 50-odd minutes of action, Saracens' ill-discipline meant that their hosts were always in with a shout via the prolific boot of Billy Twelvetrees. The former England international bagged 13-points as Gloucester battled back to secure a huge result in the context of their season.

Saturday's crunch-clash against the Chiefs is, without doubt, the toughest test Saracens have yet had to face this season, with the defending champions having not been truly pushed in their seven fixtures prior to their loss at the Kingsholm.

With the likes of Maro Itoje away on international duty, Schalk Burger and Jackson Wray (who is expected to be back after recovering from a neck injury) will be tasked with disrupting the Chiefs' breakdown ball.

England outcast George Kruis' presence at the lineout will also be pivotal, with the experienced second-rower expected to apply the pressure on opposite numbers Jonny Hill and Mitch Lees. The winner of the set-piece will go a long way to determining who comes out trumps in this one.

Exeter Chiefs

Rob Baxter's boys are in dreamland after winning their last seven in all competitions. Last week's thumping of the 'Quins ensured they regained top spot after Saracens' loss, but they will be in for one helluva contest when they visit the Allianz on Saturday. Games don't get much tougher than having to play the European Rugby Champions Cup holders on their home patch, and only a 100% showing from one to 15 will ensure the desired result for the men from Devon.

The fact that just three-Chiefs players received England call-ups means that Baxter is once again able to name more or less his strongest available team for Saturday. A loose-trio of Thomas Waldrom, Don Armand and Julian Salvi continue to produce standout showings, and the three Antipodean players will have key roles to play in nullifying the threats of Burger and Co. at the breakdown on Saturday. If Exeter can get into their usual rhythm at the set-piece, and convert the opportunities that come their way, they have the potential to cause Saracens a world of pain.

Verdict: Saracens 6/10
It will be bloody tight, but home-ground advantage will see Saracens take it. With such experienced heads amongst the forwards and a solid midfield 'combo, Saracens will find a way to win this Saturday.

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