Saturday’s Premiership talking points

Owen Farrell reaches a Saracens milestone on Saturday

Owen Farrell reaches a Saracens milestone on Saturday

Owen Farrell reaches a Saracens milestone on Saturday

The Gallagher Premiership action continues on Saturday with a London derby as Saracens seek a return to winning ways against Harlequins (12.30pm).

The defending champions were beaten by Bristol last weekend while Harlequins boosted their top-four chances with victory over Sale.

London Irish and Northampton Saints will both look to put disappointing defeats behind them when they meet at the Stoop (2pm) while Leicester Tigers take on Bath at Welford Road (4.30pm).

Master vs apprentice

Owen Farrell will make his 200th Saracens appearance against Harlequins at Allianz Park, the England playmaker having recovered from the injury that saw him miss the defeat at Bristol.

Opposite Farrell is Marcus Smith, a player being tipped as a future England fly-half.

Marcus Smith kicked Harlequins to victory over Sale last weekend Marcus Smith kicked Harlequins to victory over Sale last weekend

Marcus Smith kicked Harlequins to victory over Sale last weekend

Smith produced a measured kicking performance in Quins’ victory over Sale but he won’t be afforded as much time by a powerful Saracens pack that contains England trio Jamie George, Maro Itoje and Billy Vunipola.

Farrell partners Wales scrum-half Aled Davies for the first time, while prop Sam Crean gains a first Premiership outing.

Sarries were frustrated at not converting periods of dominance in points against Bristol and will look to atone as they attempt to extend an impressive home record.

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Will Greenwood and Rupert Cox discuss the Black Lives Matter movement within Premiership Rugby

Will Greenwood and Rupert Cox discuss the Black Lives Matter movement within Premiership Rugby

The relegated champions have lost just once at home in the Premiership since February 2018, a 27-25 reverse against Northampton in this season’s opening round.

Harlequins, on the other hand, was won just once on the road in the past 17 months.

Chris Ashton misses the trip to one of his former clubs after picking up an injury in training and is replaced by Aaron Morris in the solitary change to their starting line-up.

Saracens: 15 Elliott Obatoyinbo, 14 Alex Lewington, 13 Dom Morris, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 Sean Maitland, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Aled Davies; 1 Sam Crean, 2 Jamie George, 3 Vincent Koch, 4 Maro Itoje, 5 Callum Hunter-Hill, 6 Michael Rhodes, 7 Jackson Wray, 8 Billy Vunipola.

Replacements: 16 Tom Woolstencroft, 17 Richard Barrington, 18 Josh Ibuanokpe, 19 Tim Swinson, 20 Sean Reffell, 21 Tom Whiteley, 22 Juan Pablo Socino, 23 Manu Vunipola.

Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Aaron Morris, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 James Lang, 11 Nathan Earle, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Martin Landajo; 1 Joe Marler, 2 Scott Baldwin, 3 Simon Kerrod, 4 Stephan Lewies, 5 Matt Symons, 6 James Chisholm, 7 Chris Robshaw (c), 8 Alex Dombrandt.

Replacements: 16 Joe Gray, 17 Santiago Garcia Botta, 18 Will Collier, 19 Dino Lamb, 20 Tom Lawday, 21 Will Evans, 22 Scott Steele, 23 Paul Lasike.

All change at the Stoop

England forward Nick Isiekwe makes his Northampton debut England forward Nick Isiekwe makes his Northampton debut

England forward Nick Isiekwe makes his Northampton debut

London Irish welcome Northampton to their temporary home in Twickenham as they bid to complete a first-ever season double over the Saints.

The Exiles won 20-16 at Franklin’s Gardens in January, which kickstarted an impressive run where they registered three victories on the bounce.

However, it is now three defeats in a row for Declan Kidney’s side following last weekend’s heavy beating by Bath.

Tom Homer returns to London Irish colours after five years with Bath Tom Homer returns to London Irish colours after five years with Bath

Tom Homer returns to London Irish colours after five years with Bath

Northampton also disappointed on their return to action, losing at home to Wasps, but they have won three of their last four away games, as well as three of their last four visits to the Stoop.

Both teams have made wholesale changes with an eye on the packed schedule that awaits in the coming weeks.

Northampton hand debuts to on-loan Saracen Nick Isiekwe and Shaun Adendorff while England flanker Lewis Ludman skippers his side for only the second time.

England Sevens international Ryan Olowofela makes his Premiership debut on the wing with James Grayson at fly-half and Rory Hutchinson partnering Matt Proctor in midfield.

Irish name six academy graduates in their starting XV including Tom Homer, who rejoined the club from Bath last month.

London Irish: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Ben Loader, 13 Matt Williams, 12 Theo Brophy Clews, 11 Ollie Hassell-Collins, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Ben Meehan; 1 Allan Dell, 2 Matt Cornish, 3 Ollie Hoskins, 4 George Nott, 5 Sebastian de Chaves, 6 Jack Cooke, 7 Blair Cowan (c), 8 Albert Tuisue.

Replacements: 16 Motu Matu’u, 17 Will Goodrick-Clarke, 18 Sekope Kepu, 19 Ben Donnell, 20 TJ Ioane, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Jacob Atkins, 23 Ross Neal.

Northampton Saints: 15 George Furbank, 14 Ryan Olowofela, 13 Matt Proctor, 12 Rory Hutchinson, 11 Tom Collins, 10 James Grayson, 9 Alex Mitchell; 1 Francois van Wyk, 2 Mike Haywood, 3 Paul Hill, 4 Alex Moon, 5 Nick Isiekwe, 6 Jamie Gibson, 7 Lewis Ludlam (c), 8 Shaun Adendorff.

Replacements: 16 Reece Marshall, 17 Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi, 18 Ehren Painter, 19 Lewis Bean, 20 Tui Uru, 21 Tom James, 22 Reuben Bird-Tulloch, 23 Ahsee Tuala.

Tigers rotate for Bath visit

Australia international Blake Enever debuts for Leicester Australia international Blake Enever debuts for Leicester

Australia international Blake Enever debuts for Leicester

Leicester head coach Steve Borthwick has opted to test the depth of his squad for the Welford Road appointment with Bath, making 13 changes from the side beaten by Exeter.

Only George Worth and Thomas Lavanini are retained, with lock Blake Enever, centre Guy Porter and wing Harry Potter making their debuts in a team captained by scrum-half Ben White.

Leicester have won their last four games at Welford Road and making the venue a fortress, even without supporters, will be one of Borthwick’s primary goals.

Ben Spencer made a try-scoring debut against London Irish last week Ben Spencer made a try-scoring debut against London Irish last week

Ben Spencer made a try-scoring debut against London Irish last week

However, Bath are on a three-game winning streak against Leicester, their best run since the early ’90s, and have won on their last two visits to Welford Road.

Centre Cameron Redpath makes his first start for the West Country club, partnering Jonathan Joseph in midfield, while a solitary switch among the forwards sees flanker Tom Ellis teaming up with back-row colleagues Sam Underhill and Taulupe Faletau.

Leicester Tigers: 15 Zack Henry, 14 Harry Potter, 13 George Worth, 12 Guy Porter, 11 Harry Simmons, 10 Johnny McPhillips, 9 Ben White (c); 1 Nephi Leatigaga, 2 Jake Kerr, 3 Joe Heyes, 4 Tomas Lavanini, 5 Blake Enever, 6 George Martin, 7 Luke Wallace, 8 Thom Smith.

Replacements: 16 Charlie Clare, 17 Ryan Bower, 18 Dan Cole, 19 Cameron Henderson, 20 Jordan Coghlan, 21 Jack Van Poortvliet, 22 Tom Hardwick, 23 Freddie Steward.

Bath: 15 Anthony Watson, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Cameron Redpath, 11 Ruaridh McConnochie, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Ben Spencer; 1 Lewis Boyce, 2 Tom Dunn, 3 Will Stuart, 4 Josh McNally, 5 Charlie Ewels (c), 6 Tom Ellis, 7 Sam Underhill, 8 Taulupe Faletau.

Replacements: 16 Jack Walker, 17 Beno Obano, 18 Christian Judge, 19 Elliott Stooke, 20 Josh Bayliss, 21 Will Chudley, 22 Josh Matavesi, 23 Tom de Glanville.

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