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Monday, 21 January, 2019

Back champions Saracens to start with a bang at Newcastle

No sign of gentle introduction to the campaign from Mark McCall

Mako Vunipola is among the 12 nternationals in Saracens' side against Gloucester
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BT Sport 2, 3pm Sunday

Champions Saracens are favourites to sweep the board this season while Newcastle face a big challenge to build on last season's playoff appearance, but this opening-round Premiership clash is difficult to assess.

Hosts Newcastle ought to be full of confidence after a solid campaign and may feel this is the best time to come up against Sarries, who timed their run to peak form perfectly last term.

But when Saracens win, they win well - they covered the handicap in 15 of their 16 victories last season - and the Falcons barely laid a glove on them in their two meetings. Newcastle were beaten 29-7 in their 'home' fixture - played in New Jersey - and lost 25-3 at Allianz Park.

They should find some more scoring power on their own, artificial, turf at Kingston Park, but it could be that the famed Sarries wolfpack defence have their number.

Internationals Owen Farrell, Mako Vunipola and Maro Itoje start while the returning David Strettle is also in the line-up after his summer move from Clermont, so there is little to suggest Mark McCall is looking to ease his way gently into the season.

The handicap is set at eight points and Sarries, who are quite at home on a 4G surface, should surpass that. But rather than betting at odds-on with so many unknowns, take a chance on a winning margin of 11 to 20 points at a far more appealing 16-5.

Saracens to win by 11 to 20 points
1pt 16-5 Betfair

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Saracens covered the handicap in 15 of their 16 victories last season
E.W. Terms
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