Tabai Matson has named his Harlequins team to play Saracens in their Gallagher Premiership semi-final at Stone X Stadium.
SARACENS V HARLEQUINS REFEREE
- Referee: Luke Pearce (129th Premiership game, 3rd semi-final).
- Assistant Referees: Christophe Ridley & Anthony Woodthorpe. TMO: Ian Tempest.
- Citing Officer: Budge Pountney.
- StoneX Stadium, 1.30pm – Live on BT Sport
Head Coach Tabai Matson said:
“This weekend is a huge opportunity for this group to prove how much hard work has gone into developing as a team over the last year.
“The players have worked relentlessly this season to make sure the team grew off the back of last season’s title win. Standing as the only team to retain a spot in the playoffs is a testament to that hard work and growth.
“Saracens are a tough, well-organised team that we will have to be clinical against if we want to progress to the final. As long as we are accurate and stay true to how we play as Harlequins, we have a great chance to beat a tough and proud team on their home ground in what should be a fantastic semi-final London derby.”
– Saracens have won six of their last seven Premiership matches against Harlequins (L1); additionally, they have also won their last 10 matches at home against Harlequins, including their only previous meeting in the play-offs (31-17 in the 2013/14 semi-finals).
– Saracens have won their last four matches in the play-off stages of the Premiership, scoring an average of 41 points per match during those victories; they have won five of their previous six semi-final ties at home, with their only loss during that period coming against Northampton Saints in May 2013 (13-27).
– Saracens lost their most recent league match (7-54 v Gloucester Rugby) after winning seven in a row previously; their 47-point margin of defeat against Gloucester was their second-heaviest defeat in the Premiership (10-60 v Wasps in February 2020).
– Harlequins have won their last two Premiership play-off matches after losing two in a row previously; their most recent semi-final victory also took place away from home (43-36 v Bristol Bears in June 2021); all four of their previous play-off victories came by margins of seven points or fewer.
– Harlequins have lost two of their last three Premiership fixtures (W1) after winning six in a row previously; this run includes losses in their last two away fixtures, however, both of those defeats came by margins of fewer than 10 points with Quins scoring over 30 points in each game.
– Saracens have the highest place-kicking success rate of any side in this season’s Premiership (79%); they’ve slotted more kicks than any other team overall this season (122) including a league-high 56 penalty goals.
– Harlequins (94%) and Saracens (92%) have won a greater percentage of their own scrums than any other side in this season’s Premiership; Saracens have also won a greater percentage of their opposition’s scrums than any other team in the league this term (17%).
– Harlequins have averaged 4.4 breakdown steals per game in the Premiership this season, the most of any team; individually only Bevan Rodd (17) has made more breakdown steals than Quins duo Andre Esterhuizen (15) and Alex Dombrandt (13, level with Julian Montoya).
– Saracens’ Max Malins is the top try-scorer in this season’s Premiership (16), while teammate Tom Woolstencroft is one of just three forwards to have scored 10+ tries this season (10); however, no player has assisted as many tries as Harlequins scrum-half Danny Care (17).
– Harlequins’ Andre Esterhuizen (234) and Tyrone Green (239) have made the most carries of any backs in this season’s Premiership; they rank third and fourth overall respectively, behind Ruan Ackermann (287) and Saracens’ Billy Vunipola (248). Esterhuizen also tops the charts for post-contact metres this season (793).
Harlequins team to play Saracens:
1. Joe Marler 2. Jack Walker 3. Will Collier 4. Matt Symons 5. Hugh Tizard 6. Stephan Lewies (captain) 7. Will Evans 8. Alex Dombrandt 9. Danny Care 10. Marcus Smith 11. Cadan Murley 12. Andre Esterhuizen 13. Joe Marchant 14. Tyrone Green 15. Huw Jones I
Impact Players 16. Joe Gray 17. Simon Kerrod 18. Wilco Louw 19. Matas Jurevicius 20. Tom Lawday 21. Lewis Gjaltema 22. Tommy Allan 23. Luke Northmore