LV= Cup: Saracens v Newcastle Falcons preview
Last Updated: 27/01/14 7:03pm
Hayden Smith makes his first appearance for Saracens since returning from the NFL as they take on Newcastle Falcons in the LV=Cup on Sunday.
Nils Mordt captains the side from fly-half, and is partnered by Ben Spencer at scrum-half. Ben Ransom, Nathan Earle and Jack Wilson make up an exciting back three, whilst centre pairing Nick Tompkins and Tim Streather are reunited in the midfield once.
Dean Richards has handed debuts to four academy products meaning Glen Young, Ben Morris, Dan Temm and Simon Hammersley have the chance to impress the Falcons boss.
Jedburgh-born second-row Young, 19, who penned a two-year professional contract last term, starts in the second-row, while Lancastrian Ben Morris and Kiwi Dan Temm, both 22, get the nod in the back-row.
Temm joined the Falcons last November and has since played a string of games for the second string in the A League as well as enjoying outings with National One neighbours Tynedale.
Promising full-back Simon Hammersley pulls on the number 15 jersey, and the Durham University student will be keen to improve on his impressive showing during last summer's J.P. Morgan Premiership Rugby 7s.
Meanwhile, George McGuigan retains his place at hooker following last week's man-of-the-match display at home to Bucharest Wolves in the Challenge Cup. The Ireland Under-20s frontman packs down alongside loosehead Franck Montanella and tighthead Oliver Tomaszczyk.
Sean Tomes partners Young in the engine room with skipper Chris York rounding off the changes upfront.
Zach Kibirige returns to the wing following his England Under-20s duties and is one of three changes in the backline. Danny Barnes partners Alex Crockett in the centres with the former Munster man refreshed after turning out for Tynedale during the European break, while the aforementioned Hammersley concludes the changes.
"We've got some quality players coming through the system now which is fantastic with the likes of Scott Wilson, George McGuigan and Zach Kibirige, who have all had first team experience at this level in the last few months," said Richards.
"It's no coincidence that they have come through while academy manager Mark Laycock and academy coach James Ponton have been at the club.
"Saracens are a quality side with strength in depth, and yes a few of our lads have been thrown in at the deep end, but they will front up and do well.
"It will be a fast track on the 3G pitch and there will be a lot of points scored and I think it will suit guys like Tom Catterick, Simon Hammersley and Zach on the wing - I'm looking forward to the challenge."
Saracens: 15 Ransom, 14 Wilson, 13 Streather, 12 Tompkins, 11 Earle, 10 Mordt (capt), 9 Spencer; 1 Gill, 2 Saunders, 3 Johnston, 4 Smith, 5 Sheriff, 6 De Jaeger, 7 Hankin, 8 Wray
Replacements: 16 Spurling, 17 Auterac, 18 Alo, 19 Jubb, 20 Itoje, 21 Taylor, 22 Stanley, 23 Kingsman
Newcastle: 15 Hammersley, 14 Catterick, 13 Barnes, 12 Crockett, 11 Kibirige, 10 Hodgson, 9 Pilgrim; 1 Montanella, 2 McGuigan, 3 Tomaszczyk, 4 Tomes, 5 Young, 6 Morris, 7 Temm, 8 York
Replacements: 16 Nelson, 17 Strain, 18 Shiells, 19 Witty, 20 Hodgson, 21 Davies, 22 Clegg, 23 Penny
LV= Cup 2013/14 R3
The result from the abandoned Harlequins v Leicester LV=Cup tie on Saturday will stand.
Alex Sanderson revealed the extent of Saracens' ambition in the LV= Cup after they qualified for the semi-finals.
Saracens joined Bath in qualifying for the LV= Cup semi-finals thanks to a 41-8 victory over Newcastle.
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