Van Velze to spoil Sarries' party

Tue, 25 Dec 2012 16:03
Large gerrit jan van velze saint2 Large gerrit jan van velze2 Large gerrit jan van velze saints Large gerrit jan van velze bulls

It may be in the middle of the Christmas season, but the Premiership doesn't allow off weeks.

It may be in the middle of the Christmas season, but the Premiership doesn't allow off weeks.

For Northampton Saints, who are still fresh from their top-of-the-table clash with pace-setting Harlequins, comes another huge challenge in the shape of second-placed Saracens at stadium:mk on Sunday.

And former Blue Bull No.8 Gerrit-Jan van Velze says there's no reason why Saints can't beat Saracens - a team who are littered with fellow South Africans.

Van Velze was in the Northampton side which suffered a heartbreaking 9-18 defeat to the Premiership champions, Quins, at Franklin's Gardens last Saturday.

The boot of Nick Evans decided that one as the Kiwi kicker landed six penalties to secure the victory for his team.

This week they are up against a very different team, but an equally formidable foe.

Saracens have scored the least tries in the league (10), but they've also lost the fewer number of games (two) than anyone else.

That is thanks largely to the Premiership's meanest defence - Saracens have shipped just nine tries - and their ability to turn pressure into points from the tee.

Only Exeter and Worcester on the road have got the better of Mark McCall's side, who have won away from home at the Stoop and Franklin's Gardens.

A nine-all draw with Leicester at Wembley is so far the only game Saracens have not won at 'home' in the Premiership and in Europe.

However, Van Velze retains belief in his side and he feels they can triumph at stadium:mk this weekend if they hit the levels expected of them.

"We've got very high standards and we want to keep to them," the former Bulls forward told the Northampton Chronicle & Echo.

"We don't want to go two steps forward and one step back so we'll work on our performances and standards and there's no reason to think it won't go right on Sunday."

Van Velze knows exactly what Saints need to do to spoil Sarries' party.

"Saracens are very physical, they defend very well, they've got good line speed and they play off our errors so we need to look after the ball and just be physical and in their faces."

England flyhalf Charlie Hodgson was the focus of all the plaudits in Saracens' Round 11 22-0 win over Bath.

However while it was Hodgson's kicking which received the praise the man himself insisted that Saracens' performance was based on more than just him.

"You can't just rely on your kicking game; you have to be able to put yourself in good positions to kick well in the first place," he commented. "If you can attack using the ball in hand, why not? You just have to be more precise and slightly less ambitious.

"I thought we played some fine rugby at times. We are delighted with that performance, the Rec is no easy place to come and win. This is a crucial time of the season, it's so tight up there among the top-eight teams and we felt this was a vital match for us."

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Fri, 27 April 2018
Hurricanes v Sunwolves 07h35 Wellington
Stormers v Rebels 13h00 Newlands
Leicester Tigers v Newcastle Falcons 18h45 Welford Road
Sat, 28 April 2018
Reds v Lions 05h05 Suncorp Stadium
Blues v Jaguares 07h35 Eden Park
Brumbies v Crusaders 09h45 Canberra
Kings v Cheetahs 13h00 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Exeter Chiefs v Sale Sharks 14h00 Sandy Park
Worcester Warriors v Harlequins 14h00 Sixways
Gloucester v Bath 14h00 Kingsholm
Connacht v Leinster 14h05 Sportsground
Dragons v Scarlets 14h05 Rodney Parade
Bulls v Highlanders 15h15 Loftus Versfeld
Treviso v Zebre 16h00 Stadio Monigo
Cardiff Blues v Ospreys 16h35 Cardiff Arms Park
Munster v Ulster 16h35 Thomond Park
Edinburgh v Glasgow Warriors 18h35 Myreside
Sun, 29 April 2018
London Irish v Saracens 14h00 Madejski Stadium
Wasps v Northampton Saints 14h00 Ricoh Arena
RESULT SCORE
Sun, 22 April 2018
Racing Metro v Munster 27 | 22
Brumbies v Jaguares 20 | 25
Sat, 21 April 2018
Ulster v Glasgow Warriors 36 | 15
Zebre v Ospreys 37 | 14
Sharks v Stormers 24 | 17
Leinster v Scarlets 38 | 16
Bulls v Rebels 28 | 10
Reds v Chiefs 12 | 36
Crusaders v Sunwolves 33 | 11
Fri, 20 April 2018
Waratahs v Lions 0 | 29
Blues v Highlanders 16 | 34
Sun, 15 April 2018
Saracens v Bath 41 | 6
London Irish v Exeter Chiefs 5 | 45
Sat, 14 April 2018
Leinster v Treviso 15 | 17
Kings v Cardiff Blues 12 | 45
PREMIERSHIP
MORE LOGS
Team P W D L Pts
Exeter Chiefs 20 15 0 5 75
Saracens 20 14 0 6 67
Wasps 20 12 1 7 61
Newcastle Falcons 20 13 0 7 59
Leicester Tigers 20 2 0 8 57
Gloucester 20 11 1 8 56
Sale Sharks 20 10 0 10 54
Bath 20 9 0 11 46
Harlequins 20 7 0 13 36
Northampton Saints 20 7 0 13 36
Worcester Warriors 20 6 0 14 31
London Irish 20 3 0 17 22