Apr 08, 2016
The Time Is Now: Saracens v Northampton Match Preview
Saturday’s match up at Allianz Park will be one between two seasoned European competitors. Saracens will be competing in their sixth quarter final in this competition while for Northampton Saints this is their ninth appearance.
For visitors Northampton this is their sixth quarter final appearance away from home, yet in their previous five away quarter finals they have progressed from just one. On Saturday the Saints will be looking to disrupt Saracens winning run in this competition which, come kick off, will have seen them go 904 days since last losing a home fixture.
To do this they will hope for strong performances from some of their stand out players in the group stages. George North made the most metres, clean breaks and carries for Saints while youngster Harry Mallinder burst on to the scene with two tries in as many matches. Luther Burrell also had a strong pool stages, beating the most defenders for Northampton and topping the offload stats.
Saracens come in to the game unbeaten in the competition, a feat that owes much to their effective attacking play. Saracens made an average of 10.5 clean breaks per game in the pool stages, the second most of any side and comparative stats between the hosts and Saturday’s visitors show the dominance of the Saracens backs over their Northampton counterparts thus far. The threat from the home side has been acknowledged this week by Saints boss Jim Mallinder who said of Saracens "They're playing very well. They did lose a few games over the Six Nations, where they didn't have players available to them, but they've got those back now. They're a very well-coached and difficult side to beat. We look forward to those sort of challenges."
In return Saracens are however acutely aware that Northampton, former winners of the competition, are not to be underestimated. Speaking ahead of the game Saracens centre Brad Barritt said “It’s the first time we’ve headed into the final eight as the top seeds and as the front runners. Our European form has been fantastic but it counts for nothing when we get out there on the park. We’re up against a formidable team on Saturday. We are going to have to be on the money come the weekend.” His thoughts were echoed too by Mako Vunipola who acknowledged “when it gets to knock out rugby form kind of goes out of the window. It’s whoever plays well on the day and we know that and we’ve learnt the hard way that that’s how rugby is”.
Saracens averaged 36.7 points per game in the group stages while Northampton averaged 15.7
Owen Farrell is the leading point scorer for Saracens with 73 points to his name and Chris Wyles the leading try scorer having crossed 4 times
Saracens’ won 88% of their lineouts in the pool stages with George Kruis winning 29
Saracens scored 17 second half tries in the pool stages, the most of any team in the competition
Saints gained fewer metres than any other team in the pool stages, averaging 288 per game
No club has won six out of six pool games and gone on to win the competition in the same season thus far