Apr 20, 2017
Match Preview: Munster v Saracens
This weekend sees Saracens head over the Irish Sea to Dublin to contest the Champions Cup semi final against two time former champions Munster.
All six of Sarries’ Lions are named for the trip to Dublin with Owen Farrell, Jamie George, Mako Vunipola, George Kruis, Maro Itoje and Billy Vunipola all set to start against Munster at the Aviva Stadium. Marcelo Bosch will make his 50th Champions Cup appearance while Chris Wyles, who returns to the bench after injury, is also set for his 50th appearance. For full team news click here.
Munster have made five changes to their side which defeated Ulster in the PRO12 last weekend including the return of newly called up Lion CJ Stander who has recovered from an ankle injury. For full Munster team news click here.
Munster are a side with real European pedigree. Saturday’s fixture will see the Irish province playing in their 158th tournament game, the most of any club in the competition. It will also be their 12th European Cup semi-final, another record for the competition. Munster booked their spot in the quarter finals with an emphatic win over Toulouse after finishing top of their pool in the group with the same tally of points as Saracens.
One to Watch (Munster) – Tyler Bleyendaal
After struggling with injury over recent seasons this year has been the one where New Zealander Bleyendaal has really proved his worth to Munster. Nominated for European Player of the Year, the 26 year old fly half is second only to Owen Farrell as top points scorer in the competition with 94 points, 89 of those coming from his dependable boot.
One to Watch (Saracens) – Jackson Wray
Back row Jackson Wray has been one of Saracens’ most consistent performers this season and with his tireless work rate has become something of an unsung hero for the men in black. His form is such going into the game that Wray starts ahead of Springbok legend Schalk Burger and will go head to head with
Last time out
Saraens and Munster have faced each other seven times in European competition with Munster winning five of their encounters. Saracens however have won two of their last three meetings and came out on top when the side met at Allianz Park in January 2015. On the day a brace from Chris Ashton plus another score from Chris Wyles gave the north Londoners the advantage while Saracens’ famous defense held firm to deny the visitors much more than a single try.
Owen Farrell (97) and Tyler Bleyendaal (94) are the top point scorers in the Champions Cup. No other player has scored more than 80 points in this year’s competition to date.
Coming in to this weekend’s game Munster have scored an average of 28.7 points per game while Saracens have tallied up an average of 31.3.
Both Sarries and Munster are closely matched in terms of tries scored per game. Munster average 3.1 across their games so far while Sarries average 3.4.
“These are all the games you want to play in throughout the year you work hard throughout the year to ply in these big games. I’m looking forward to playing in a new stadium, a new city. We’re looking forward to a different challenge, one that is a very very tough game for us but hopefully one that we can perform well in and get the result.” – Jackson Wray
Tommy O’Donnell, the Munster back row told the Munster website “They have it all. They have a line-out operator as a 6. They have a groundhog, ball-carrying 7 and an incredibly talented ball carrying number 8. They are a quality side with a very balanced back-row, two very good second-rows and very, very mobile props and hooker.”
“We’re definitely playing better than we were in 2015. We’ve more confidence in ourselves, we’ve more confidence in our defence and in our set-piece and that’s what you need, to be confident heading in against Saracens.”
Referee: Romain Poite (France)
Assistant Referees: Pascal Gauzere (France), Alexandre Ruiz (France).
TMO: Philippe Bonhoure (France)
How to Follow
At Allianz Park – The screening in the Hundred Club is now sold out. The lounge opens at 13H30 for those who have booked in advance
TV – Live on BT Sport 3, coverage from 14H30.
Social – Follow the whole trip from start to finish across Saracens social media including on Twitter, Instagram, Periscope, and Facebook.
Radio – Live on BBC 5 Live Sports Extra, coverage from 14H45
Sarries in Dublin
If you’re heading over to Dublin for the weekend why not join up with the Saracens Supporters Association who will be gathering at Searsons pub, 42 Upper Baggot Street from approximately 12H00 on Saturday afternoon.