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Aviva Premiership final: Saracens take on Northampton Saints at Twickenham

Last updated: 31st May 2014  

GEORGE NORTH NORTHAMPTONS SAINTS AMLIN CHALLENGE CUP FINAL

George North was delighted to get his hands on a first trophy since his arrival at Franklin's Gardens and he is expecting another tough test

Steve Borthwick Saracens 2014

Steve Borthwick: Fit to sign out for Sarries

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Saracens are looking to bounce back from their Heineken Cup heartache when they take on Northampton Saints in Saturday's Aviva Premiership final at Twickenham.

Mark McCall's side slipped to a 23-6 defeat to champions Toulon as they went for a first-ever European Cup last weekend.

In contrast, opponents Northampton go into the game on a high, beating Bath 30-16 in last Friday's Amlin Challenge Cup final.

But Saracens will be boosted by the fact they finished top of the regular table, with Northampton second.

In games between the sides, the Saints won 41-20 in the clash at Franklin's Gardens back in October, while Saracens narrowly reversed the form with a 28-24 home victory last month.

In their semi-finals earlier this month, Saracens comfortably beat Harlequins 31-17 while Saints came back to beat Leicester Tigers 21-20.

Showpiece final

The showpiece final is Saracens captain Steve Borthwick's final game as a professional rugby player before taking up a coaching position in Japan next season.

He wants to go out on a high, telling the club's official website: "There has been a tremendous amount of hard work from lots of people in this organisation throughout this season and the years before to get to this point in time and to get to this final.

"I think that we are going to go out on Saturday and play as hard as we possibly can. I think that the one thing that I'm sure of this group is it won't be for the want of trying.

"We're playing against a very good team in Northampton, like we did last Saturday when we played Toulon, so I can't tell you what the result will be, but we are going to give it our very best shot."

But Saints wing George North, who scored in the semi-final comeback against Leicester, is hungry for more silverware after beating Bath.

He told SaintsTV: "Winning silverware was one of the main reasons I came to the club. Initially I thought it may take a bit of time to build that ethos but it has been awesome so far this season.

"We've really pushed on and to get a cup under our belts already has given us a lot of confidence.

"We know Saracens are a good side though and it's hard to read too much into their game last weekend. Toulon are one of the best squads in world rugby, at a club or international level, and really turned it on.

"Saracens have been the form side in the Premiership all season so for us, we've really got to turn the taps up and go in hard on Saturday."

Teams

Saracens will be without England prop Mako Vunipola, who has a knee injury, so Richard Barrington deputises.

Skipper Borthwick has overcome a troublesome pectoral muscle to play and is partnered in the second-row by Mouritz Botha.

A rotational switch at scrum-half sees Neil de Kock in for Richard Wigglesworth.

For Northampton, there are two changes from the side which beat Bath.

Scrum-half Kahn Fotuali'I starts instead of Lee Dickson, while prop Salesi Ma'afu returns from suspension and replaces Tom Mercey.

England hooker Dylan Hartley is on the bench after being sidelined for two months due to a shoulder injury.

Saracens: 15 Goode, 14 Ashton, 13 Bosch, 12 Barritt, 11 Strettle; 10 Farrell, 9 de Kock, 1 Barrington, 2 Brits, 3 Stevens, 4 Borthwick (c), 5 Botha, 6 Brown, 7 Burger, 8 Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 George, 17 Gill, 18 Johnston, 19 Hargreaves, 20 Wray, 21 Wigglesworth, 22 Hodgson, 23 Wyles.

Northampton: 15 Foden, 14 K Pisi, 13 G Pisi, 12 Burrell, 11 North, 10 Myler, 9 Fotuali'i, 1 Corbisiero, 2 Haywood, 3 Ma'afu, 4 Manoa, 5 Lawes, 6 Clark, 7 Wood (c), 8 Dickinson.
Replacements: 16 Hartley, 17 Waller, 18 Mercy, 19 Day, 20 Dowson, 21 Dickson, 22 Wilson, 23 Stephenson.

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