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Saturday’s Aviva Premiership Team News

There are three Aviva Premiership fixtures on Saturday, with top of the table Exeter travelling to Saracens being arguably the pick of the bunch.

Saracens (2nd,57pts) v Exeter (1st,59pts), 15:15 kick-off
First takes on second this weekend in this table-topping encounter. Saracens and Exeter Chiefs have been a cut above the rest so far this season and currently sit five points clear of their closest chasers. 

The two sides have met on 11 previous occasions in Premiership Rugby with Saracens winning seven and Exeter four. The Chiefs were victorious on their most recent visit to Allianz Park: 24-20 in Round 21 last year.

Saturday will be a day of personal milestones Sarries full-back Alex Goode and wing Chris Wyles will make their 200th appearances for the club.

Full-back Goode, will start at full-back, alongside fellow double-centurion Chris Wyles in the back three. Duncan Taylor returns to club action to take his place on the right wing. At centre, Brad Barritt continues to skipper the side from inside centre. Marcelo Bosch is his midfield partner.

In the halves, Richard Wigglesworth starts at scrumhalf and will be joined by Owen Farrell who is back in his customary No10 shirt after England duty while George Kruis, Maro Itoje and Vunipola brothers also return to domestic action in the pack.

Meanwhile, Exeter have made four changes made up front where there are starts for Alec Hepburn, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Julian Salvi and Damian Welch, the latter making his first return since mid-December when he picked up a pectoral injury away to Clermont Auverge.

Behind, Phil Dollman’s return at full-back means Aussie international Lachie Turner shunts to the left wing with James Short, himself a former Saracens player, being given the week off by Baxter.

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode 14 Duncan Taylor 13 Marcelo Bosch 12 Brad Barritt 11 Chris Wyles 10 Owen Farrell 9 Richard Wigglesworth 1 Mako Vunipola 2 Schalk Brits 3 Petrus Du Plessis 4 George Kruis 5 Maro Itoje 6 Jackson Wray 7 Will Fraser  8 Billy Vunipola
Replacements:16 Jared Saunders 17 Richard Barrington 18 Titi Lamositele 19 Alistair Hargreaves 20 Kelly Brown 21 Neil De Kock 22 Nick Tompkins 23 Mike Ellery
Exeter: 15 Phil Dollman 14 Olly Woodburn 13 Henry Slade 12 Ian Whitten 11 Lachie Turner 10 Gareth Steenson (capt) 9 Dave Lewis 1 Alec Hepburn 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie 3 Harry Williams 4 Geoff Parling 5 Damian Welch 6 Dave Ewers 7 Julian Salvi 8 Thomas Waldrom
Replacements: 16 Elvis Taione 17 Ben Moon 18 Moray Low 19 Ollie Atkins 20 Kai Horstmann 21 Will Chudley 22 Will Hooley 23 Max Bodilly

Gloucester (7th,39pts) v Bath (9th,33pts), 17:30 kick-off

Following back-to-back away defeats there are changes on both wings as David Halaifonua replaces the injured Charlie Sharples and Steve McColl comes in for Henry Trinder. The other new face in the back line sees Greig Laidlaw return from Scotland duty and resume the captaincy.

In the pack, Paddy McAllister has recovered from injury and replaces Nick Wood, while Darren Dawidiuk takes over from Richard Hibbard at hooker.

Tom Savage comes into partner Jeremy Thrush in the second row in place of Mariano Galarza and Ross Moriarty, fresh from scoring two tries for Wales on his Six Nations bow, is back at number eight.

Meanwhile, Nathan Catt will make his first start of the season for Bath as one of ten changes to the team that narrowly overcame Newcastle last weekend.

Mike Ford will also have his full complement of Grand Slam heroes on the field for their visit to Kingsholm as George Ford, Jonathan Joseph and Anthony Watson all start.

Bath have been victorious on their last two visits to Kinghsolm in the Premiership – no visiting team has ever won three successive Premiership fixtures at the famous old ground.

Gloucester Rugby: 15. Tom Marshall; 14. David Halaifonua, 13. Bill Meakes, 12. Billy Twelvetrees (capt), 11. Steve McColl; 10. James Hook, 9. Greig Laidlaw (capt); 1. Paddy McAllister, 2. Darren Dawidiuk, 3. John Afoa; 4. Tom Savage, 5. Jeremy Thrush; 6. Sione Kalamafoni, 7. Matt Kvesic, 8. Ross Moriarty
Replacements: 16. Richard Hibbard, 17. Yann Thomas, 18. Paul Doran-Jones, 19. Mariano Galarza, 20. Gareth Evans, 21. Callum Braley, 22. Mark Atkinson, 23. Henry Trinder
Bath: 15 Anthony Watson 14 Semesa Rokoduguni 13 Jonathan Joseph 12 Ollie Devoto 11 Matt Banahan 10 George Ford 9 Chris Cook 1 Nathan Catt 2 Rob Webber 3 Henry Thomas 4 Charlie Ewels 5 Dominic Day 6 Matt Garvey 7 Francois Louw (c) 8 Leroy Houston
Replacements: 16 Tom Dunn 17 Max Lahiff 18 David Wilson 19 Amanaki Mafi 20 Guy Mercer 21 Jonathan Evans 22 Rhys Priestland 23 Horacio Agulla

Worcester (10th,30pts) v London Irish (12th,17pts), 17:30 kick-off
Warriors winger Cooper Vuna returns to the starting line-up for Saturday’s all-important Aviva Premiership clash with London Irish at Sixways.

The Australia international is the only change to the starting 15 as Warriors go in search of a Club-record fourth consecutive Aviva Premiership win.

Vuna, Warriors’ joint-top try scorer this season, is reinstated in the side to join Bryce Heem and Chris Pennell in the back three.

London Irish’s only defeat in their last 16 Premiership encounters with the Warriors was 11-35 at Sixways in September 2012.

And the Exiles make just one change with Elliott Stooke returning to the pack.

He partners Matt Symons in the second row, while back row Ofisa Treviranus is named amongst the replacements after recovering from a knee injury.

Worcester: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Bryce Heem, 13 Wynand Olivier, 12 Ryan Mills, 11 Cooper Vuna, 10 Tom Heathcote, 9 Francois Hougaard; 1 Val Rapava Ruskin, 2 Niall Annett, 3 Nick Schonert, 4 Donncha O’Callaghan, 5 Darren Barry, 6 Phil Dowson, 7 Carl Kirwan, 8 GJ van Velze
Replacements: 16 Jaba Bregvadze, 17 Na’ama Leleimalefaga, 18 James Johnston, 19 Dan Sanderson, 20 Matt Cox, 21 Luke Baldwin, 22 Ryan Lamb, 23 Alex Grove
London Irish: 15 Sean Maitland, 14 Alex Lewington, 13 Ciaran Hearn, 12 Johnny Williams, 11 Topsy Ojo, 10 Greig Tonks, 9 Scott Steele, 1 Tom Court, 2 Tom Cruse, 3 Halani Aulika, 4 Elliott Stooke, 5 Matt Symons, 6 Luke Narraway (c), 7 Blair Cowan, 8 Rob McCusker
Replacements: 16 David Paice, 17 Tom Smallbone, 18 Leo Halavatau, 19 Jerry Sexton, 20 Ofisa Treviranus, 21 Brendan McKibbin, 22 Theo Brophy Clews, 23 Fergus Mulchrone