Farrell set to start for Sarries

Published: Thursday 23rd October 2014 by The News Editor

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Owen Farrell will make his first start for five weeks – and a fortnight before England face world champions New Zealand – when Saracens tackle European Champions Cup rivals Munster on Friday night.

The England fly-half was sidelined due to a quad strain, but a stern European test at Thomond Park now awaits.

Saracens launched their Champions Cup campaign with an impressive Pool One victory over French heavyweights Clermont Auvergne last weekend, when Farrell returned to action as a late second-half substitute, and victory in Limerick would give them control of a punishing group.

“It is definitely going to be a game that goes down to the wire, and we are going to have to be as clinical as ever,” said Saracens’ England centre Brad Barritt, who will captain the team on Friday.

“We’ve had a great start to our European campaign, and Munster at Thomond Park is a huge opportunity for us to make another memory.

“We talk about going to these historical grounds, places where people have found it very tough to win, and we know it’s going to be extremely tough.

“They (Munster) are a team with a wealth of European experience and a team that are able to consistently work for 80 minutes to achieve the result that they need.”

Farrell will be partnered at half-back by Neil de Kock, while centre Marcelo Bosch replaces Chris Wyles, but skipper Alastair Hargreaves is ruled out by a slight knock, so Scotland international Jim Hamilton deputises.

Munster head coach Anthony Foley, meanwhile, makes two changes from the side that edged past Sale Sharks 27-26 last Saturday, handing starts to props James Cronin and BJ Botha.

“They (Saracens) have been very impressive,” Munster captain Peter O’Mahony said.

“They have been knocking on the door of Europe for the last few years, and we know they are hungry for success. It’s a big game for us.

“They are a fairly complete side. They can attack from all areas, with dangerous players all over the place.”

In the second-tier European Challenge Cup, unbeaten Pool Three rivals Newport Gwent Dragons and Newcastle go head to head at Rodney Parade on Friday night.

The Dragons, fresh from a stunning bonus-point victory over Stade Francais in Paris last weekend, parade all three of their Wales autumn Tests squad members – Taulupe Faletau, Hallam Amos and Tom Prydie – while Newcastle show seven changes following a comfortable win against Bucharest six days ago.

Falcons rugby director Dean Richards gives starts to full-back Simon Hammersley, wing Alex Tait, scrum-half Ruki Tipuna, prop Rob Vickers, locks Scott MacLeod and Sean Robinson, plus flanker Will Welch.

“Newport are going to be in a confident mood after their win last week in Paris and will be giving everything in front of their home fans,” Richards said.

“So we are going to have to be sharp and precise to keep our momentum going, but I am confident if the boys play our game and our defence stays strong, we will be competitive.”

Elsewhere in the Challenge Cup on Friday, Pool One contenders London Irish visit Grenoble, while Edinburgh host Lyon in Pool Four after claiming an away win against Bordeaux-Begles last week.

Published: Thursday 23rd October 2014 by The News Editor

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