Apr 21, 2016
Euro Match Preview: “It’s been a buzz of excitement”
This Saturday Saracens will take on Wasps in an all English affair at the Madjeski Stadium, Reading. The Madjeski has hosted a European Cup semi-final once before, when it welcomed Northampton Saints and Llanelli Scarlets in 2000, but is better known as the home of London Irish and Reading FC.
Both sides are seasoned European campaigners. For Saracens this will be their fifth Champions Cup semi-final and while they have won just one of their four previous the 46-6 win over Clermont in 2014 stands as the biggest win in a tournament semi-final so far. Wasps will contest their first semi-final since 2007 and their third overall, having gone on to lift the trophy on both occasions that they have reached this stage previously.
Winger Charles Piutau has been a key performer in attack for Wasps. He tops the charts for defenders beaten, metres made and clean breaks in the Champions Cup this season. It was also his try in the 79th minute, converted by Jimmy Gopperth, which handed Wasps victory against Exeter in the quarter finals.
Saracens are well aware of the threat that Wasps pose as Owen Farrell explains. “They’ve been very good” he said. “They’ve got some outstanding players, not just the guys we’ve played with England… but some of the players that have come in this year as well. They’ve got threats all over the field and that shows when they play we’ve got to make sure that we’re on it this week and we’re in the game for the full 80 minutes.”
Saturday will be the biggest fixture of the season so far and one that Saracens are looking forward to getting their teeth in to. “It’s been a buzz of excitement ahead of this week’s fixture” said Brad Barritt. “It’s something we’ve worked tirelessly for and it’s something we’re definitely ready and well prepared for.”
- Chris Ashton is now third on the tournament’s all time try scoring list with 31 behind Vincent Clerc (36) and Brian O’Driscoll (33)
- George Kruis has won the most lineouts in the competition and Saracens have forced the lowest lineout success rate from their opposition (73%) of any side in the competition this season
- Wasps have lost just once in their last 22 Champions Cup fixtures when they've scored 25+ points, a total they've achieved five times already this season.
- Matt Mullan has made 66 tackles without missing a single one. No player has attempted more without missing any this season
- Owen Farrell is the competition’s top scorer having notched up 92 points
- Saracens have scored a competition high 11 tries in the 20 minutes immediately after half time this season, however, no side has conceded fewer than Wasps (1) in this same period