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Preview: London Irish v Saracens

Preview: London Irish v Saracens

They may be rooted to the foot of the Aviva Premiership Rugby table and without a win in four league games, but London Irish lock Matt Symons is convinced a change of scenery could be the catalyst for a mid-season revival.

This weekend the Exiles will make Aviva Premiership Rugby history as they host table-topping Saracens at the Red Bull Arena in New Jersey.

And Symons is hopeful a mid-season change of scenery in the US, coupled with a change of climate, could be the catalyst for better performances in Aviva Premiership Rugby.

London Irish have lost their last four fixtures since beating Worcester Warriors 20-13 at Madejski Stadium in February.

Despite the fact that the Exiles are in 12th spot in the table, they have scored at least one try in every first team game they have played over the past 12 months – a statistic they will be hoping to continue against Saracens.

After hosting the New York Jets at their Hazelwood training base before their NFL game at Wembley last year, the NFL franchise have returned the favour by allowing Irish to use the facility in the build-up to this weekend’s showdown.  

“The facilities here at the Jets are amazing and we are really excited to be here using them,” said the former Super 15 player.

“The boys ended up getting stuck into each other a little bit, and there was a lot of enthusiasm which can happen when you are in a new environment.

“We were hugely disappointed after the Bath game – we are a resilient group and we have put that result behind us as we prepare for Saracens.

“We had some pretty honest conversations and parked everything that has gone before and really see this week as a chance to reignite our season ahead of the last seven games.

“We had pool recovery on Monday and it was nice to become accustomed to a bit of American football which was light hearted.”

Saracens only victory in their last four Aviva Premiership Rugby encounters was 25-12 at home to Gloucester in round 13.

Last Saturday Saracens were held try-less in a game for only the second time this season, with both instances being against Northampton.

London Irish have won just two of their last ten encounters with Saracens, in Reading in February 2013 and at Allianz Park in 2014.

But despite all of the statistics pointing to a comfortable Saracens win, forwards coach Alex Sanderson is taking nothing for granted in America this weekend.

“We need to be on it for 80 minutes and we need to prove a point and claim the win,” said Sanderson.

“We can’t be complacent and we don’t want to show any sort of soft underbelly by being beaten by London Irish.

“Last weekend against Northampton we did the big things well and that was the effort and energy we showed but it was the small things we can improve on.

“We need to look at things like our set piece and our discipline and we need to improve on taking our chances, creating openings and our intensity.”

Red Bull Arena, 3pm (local time) Live on BT Sport

Referee: Luke Pearce (47th Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Tim Wigglesworth & Ross Campbell. TMO: David Grashoff.

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