December 11 2013 Latest news:
By James Cunliffe
Saturday, August 31, 2013
Saracens face Bedford Blues in their final pre-season game this afternoon and though it billed as a friendly contest Jamie George expects the clash to be full-blooded – especially as one of his closest friends will line up against him.
The match sees the Championship outfit travel to Allianz Park for the first time as part of the continuing relationship between the two clubs, one that will see the Blues open their league campaign against London Welsh at the Hendon stadium on September 14 as part of a double-header that will also see Ealing Trailfinders battle London Scottish.
However, the link is chiefly responsible in recent years for a number of Sarries learning their trade at Goldington Road as part of the dual registration programme.
While some stars, like Jackson Wray, have return to be Premiership regulars, others like scrum-half Jake Sharp have chosen to carve a career out in a blue shirt.
“Jake’s one of my best friends,” said hooker George. “I’m going to be gunning for him just a little bit and try to get one up on him.
“He was in the academy with us, growing up, so we are really looking forward to playing against him.
“Some of the other guys like Sam Stanley, Tom Jubb and Nick Auterac are playing for them so it is going to be very interesting.
“It could be quite physical and some of the guys might get a little bit of a competitive edge against each other.”
George scored a hat-trick in Sarries’ first pre-season game, a 75-0 rout of College Rovers during a 10-day training camp in South Africa, before the blasted 61 points past Cornish Pirates last week in the City on London, with just three in reply from the south-west side.
George, who has moved up the Saracens pecking order after legendary Springbok captain John Smit retired at the end of last term, is delighted with the way the summer has progressed.
“It’s gone really well,” he said. “I’m pleased with where we’re at, at the minute. The two pre-season games have gone well and hopefully we can progress again this weekend and keep moving forward.
“I think we’re in a good place and moving on to London Irish on the 7th September is really exciting.”
All four of Saracens British and Irish Lions will be involved today; as Matt Stevens, Owen Farrell, Brad Barritt all start, with Mako Vunipola is on the bench. New signing Billy Vunipola will wear the No.6 shirt while Jacques Burger starts in his second successive game at openside flanker.
Saracens: 1. Gill, 2. George, 3. Stevens, 4. Borthwick (c), 5. Hargreaves, 6. B. Vunipola, 7. Burger, 8. Joubert, 9. Wigglesworth, 10. Farrell, 11. Strettle, 12. Barritt, 13. Tomkins, 14. Ashton, 15. Wyles
Replacements: Spurling, M. Vunipola, Du Plessis, Kruis, Botha, Wray, Melck, Hankin, Spencer, Mordt, Taylor, Earle, Tagicakibau, Wilson, Ransom
Bedford Blues: 15. Mark Atkinson, 14. Patrick Tapley, 13. Sam Stanley, 12. Ollie Dodge, 11. Neville Edwards, 10. Jake Sharp, 9. Luke Baldwin;
1. Darren Fearn, 2. Charlie Clare, 3. Ben Cooper, 4. Paul Tupai, 5. Mike Howard, 6. Tom Armes, 7. Darren Fox (c), 8. Joe Vandermolen
Replacements: Nic Auterac, Nico Steenkamp, Phil Boulton, Ben Gulliver, Tom Jubb, Sacha Harding, Don Barrell, Darryl Veenendaal, Michael Le Bourgeois, Brendan Burke, Chris Lord.