ad link

Northampton Saints

13     57


European Cup | Franklin's Gardens
16:30 (GMT) | 15-10-2017
  • 81
Thank you for joining us catch more rugby action next weekend on rugby365
  • 80
After the restart Saracens look to attack but the ball is lost forward and that brings play to an end. The ref blows his final whistle
  • 78
Farrell adds the extras
  • 77
After the restart Saracens applies pressure and tries to keep Saints back in their own half. Ben Spencer scores a sneaky try as he spots the ball on the try line off a Saints ruck.
  • 76
Myler adds the extras
  • 75
Saints put up a driving maul 5m out and goes over the try line Mikey Haywood scores the try
  • 74
The Saints team is looking to dig deep in these final minutes and score some consolation points
  • 69
Farrell adds the extras
  • 67
After the return of play of play Saracens gets a scrum in striking range the pull off a training ground move that sees Alex Lozowski go over for a try
  • 65
Farrell adds the extras
  • 64
Saracens scores as Vunipola powers over the try line
  • 62
Saracens scrum close to the home teams 22. They look to attack the midfield and put up a few phases.
  • 60
Possession changes hands a few times as both teams look to make use of the boot
  • 59
The Saints wins a penalty and opts for touch but the ball is kept out by Williams and he hacks it down field
  • 57
Scrum for the Saints inside their own half
  • 56
Penalty won by Saints after Itoje caught Groom high and Saints opts for touch
  • 54
Saracens continue to apply pressure in front of goal. Their momentum is stopped by a handling error.
  • 52
Line-out 5m out and Saracens look to attack the sort side. But they run out of space as the ball goes into touch
  • 51
Scrum for Saracens close to the half way line. They put it up in the middle and win a penalty. Farrell kicks for touch
  • 49
Saints get an opportunity to as the ball is kicked over the try line. The ball is dotted down by a Saints player but the ref goes upstairs and awards the scrum as he sees the ball as knocked forward
  • 47
Saracens wins a scrum penalty and opts for touch
  • 45
Saints get an opportunity for the 1st time deep inside Saracens half. They win a penalty and opt for touch. The line-out ball is lost forward and Sarries gets a scrum
  • 42
Farrell adds the extras
  • 41
Saracens gets the 2nd half on the way with a deep kick off. The Saints kicks the ball back and Saracens looks to counter attack they find soace and edge closer and closer. After a well timed pass by Farrell. Koch goes over for the try

Half Time

  • 40
Farrell adds the extras and that's the end of the 1st half
  • 39
Saracens opt for touch again and they drive over the try line.Calum Clark scores the bonus point try against his old team
  • 38
Another penalty for Saracens and this time Gibson is sent off with a yellow card
  • 37
Farrell tries a cross-kick to Williams on the right wing but he fails to field it. The ref blows for a penalty and Saracens opts for touch
  • 36
Scrum reset for Saracens
  • 35
After the restart Saracens are back on the attack with ball in hand deep inside the Saints half. From a line-out they go wide but the ball is knocked forward by a Saints defender as he looks to intercept
  • 33
Myler lines it up for goal and he kicks it perfectly as the ball goes sailing through the middle
  • 32
At the return of play the SAints managed to dig deep and build some momentum by outting up a few phases. They attack the right flank and find some space. The ref blows for a penalty and goes upstairs to check foul play but he only awards a penalty to the Saints
  • 30
Farrell fails to add the extras
  • 29
Saracens picks up where they left-off on the attack as they continue to apply pressure. They attack wide and the ball goes to Williams who steps and then goes over for another try
  • 28
Northampton looks to attack wide from the line-out but the ball is passed into touch. Play is stopped due to an injury to North
  • 26
Saints with ball in hand close to the halfway line. North finds some space wide but is isolated and Barritt wins the ball back as Saracens clears into touch
  • 24
After the restart the home team tries to build something of their own but their momentum is stopped as Sarries wins the ball back and Farrell kicks a good touch finder deep inside the home teams half
  • 21
Farrell adds the extras
  • 20
Saracens wins a penalty and opts for touch 5m out. They look to put up a driving maul and they get aome momentum. Barritt dots doen the try as they drive over the try line
  • 18
The Saracens team seem to have stepped up a gear and running on all cylinders as they keep pushing forward with a relentless onslaught on attack
  • 15
Sarries continues to apply pressure as they win a penalty right in front of goal and Farrell makes sure it goes over
  • 14
Saracens back on the attack after the restart. They make a few good metres testing the Saints defence
  • 12
Farrell adds the extras
  • 11
After a few beautiful offloads the space is created wide for Williams to go over for the 1st try of the night
  • 10
After the restart Saracens manages to get the ball back and they apply pressure by putting up a few phases
  • 8
Northampton wins another penalty in front of goal Stephen Myler lines it up and kicks it over
  • 6
After the reset kick Saracens looks to build a few phases but the Saints win a penalty on the ground and they opt for touch
  • 4
Penalty for Saracens 45m out and Farrell lines it up. Farrell unceremoniously misses the kick
  • 2
After the line-out Saints puts a high kick up and Goode fields as he takes the mark and clears.
  • 1
The Saints get the game on the way with a deep kick off. Saracens fields and looks to put up a driving maul before they clear. Penalty for the home as Saracens is caught offside. Saints opt for touch
  • -5
The players are doing their final preparations before running onto the field
  • -10
Player's to look out for in the Saints line-up is George North, Cobus Reinach and Courtney Lawes.while Saracens will expect strong performances by Brad Barritt, Owen Farrell and Maro Itoje
  • -20
Saracens start off their title defence in this epic clash.This will be the second meeting between the sides in the Champions Cup and the third in Europe overall. Both previous European encounters came in the knockout stage with Northampton winning a Challenge Cup semifinal in 2009 before Saracens had their revenge in the 2016 Champions Cup quarterfinal. Saracens are unbeaten in their last 18 games; only Scarlets managed to avoid defeat to the reigning champions during that run. Saints have lost just one of their last six home games; their four wins in that run all came by no more than seven points. Saracens have won back-to-back titles, and to date, only RC Toulon have managed to win the tournament three seasons in a row (2013, 2014 and 2015).
  • -30
Welcome to Northampton, Franklin's Gardens, where the Northampton Saints will face off against Saracens in this European Cup fixture
Mc northampton saints80
Northampton Saints
Mc saracens80
  • 1 Alex Waller
  • 2 Dylan Hartley
  • 3 Kieran Brookes
  • 4 Michael Paterson
  • 5 Dave Ribbans
  • 6 Courtney Lawes
  • 7 Jamie Gibson
  • 8 Teimana Harrison
  • 9 Cobus Reinach
  • 10 Stephen Myler
  • 11 Ben Foden
  • 12 Piers Francis
  • 13 Luther Burrell
  • 14 George North
  • 15 Ah See Tuala
  • 16 Mikey Haywood
  • 17 Francois Van Wyk
  • 18 Jamal Ford-Robinson
  • 19 Api Ratuniyarawa
  • 20 Tom Wood
  • 21 Nic Groom
  • 22 Harry Mallinder
  • 23 Tomas Collins
  • 1 Mako Vunipola
  • 2 Jamie George
  • 3 Vincent Koch
  • 4 Nick Isiekwe
  • 5 George Kruis
  • 6 Maro Itoje
  • 7 Calum Clark
  • 8 Jackson Wray
  • 9 Richard Wigglesworth
  • 10 Owen Farrell
  • 11 Chris Wyles
  • 12 Brad Barritt
  • 13 Marcelo Bosch
  • 14 Liam Williams
  • 15 Alex Goode
  • 16 Schalk Brits
  • 17 Richard Barrington
  • 18 Juan Figallo
  • 19 Dominic Day
  • 20 Schalk Burger
  • 21 Ben Spencer
  • 22 Alex Lozowski
  • 23 Duncan Taylor
Mc article champions cup logo with tropy 800

Preview: Champions Cup, Round One

Thu, 12 Oct 2017 21:24

CREAM OF THE CROP ON SHOW: Already the kings of Europe for the last two years and top of the English Premiership, Saracens will be boosted by the return of British and Irish Lions flyhalf Owen Farrell for the start of their title defence.

Ulster and Wasps get this season's competition underway on Friday night before the champions make their bow on Sunday away to domestic rivals Northampton.

The two sides met on the opening day of the Premiership season with Sarries running in nine tries in a 55-24 thrashing at Twickenham, and that without Farrell.

As well as the half-back, South African forwards Schalk Burger and Schalk Brits could also return from injuries.

"Owen has trained for two days and is fine. Schalk Burger and Schalk Brits have a chance of being available," Saracens' Director of Rugby Mark McCall said.

"For Brits, it will be soon after having his appendix out, so that would be a decent turnaround. He trained [on Wednesday] and if he has no reaction he has a great chance of being involved."

Saracens not only defended their title last season but also set a new record of 18 European matches in a row unbeaten as they defeated Clermont, the French champions, 28-17 in the Edinburgh final.

The north Londoners already look to have hit their stride this season, despite the absence of key players such as Farrell and England No.8 Billy Vunipola, out until the new year with a knee injury.

Getting off to a good start will be vital in a pool that includes Clermont - beaten finalists in three of the last five years - and Ospreys.

With such fierce opposition, it could be one of the groups whose runners-up fail to make the knock-out stages.

Clermont begins their campaign in Wales looking to end a run of four straight defeats on their travels this season.

And they are unlikely to be able to welcome back France centre Wesley Fofana for the trip to Swansea.

But coach Franck Azema was feeling positive despite Sunday's 28-18 defeat at Toulouse.

"I think we're on the right track. It will do us good to start the European Cup with an away match and knowing that every point counts," he said.

Both Sarries and Clermont played on Sunday, as did Wasps - thumped 38-19 by the European champions - who start their campaign on Friday night with a tough trip to Belfast.

It means they have a five-day turnaround, something McCall described as "grossly unfair".

On top of that, Wasps are missing 15 players through injury, including fly-half Danny Cipriani and No.8 Nathan Hughes.

"It's not ideal by any stretch of the imagination," Wasps' director of rugby Dai Young told BBC Radio 5 live.

"There is very little we can do about it. We've known for a number of weeks what was the case, and we've just got to get on with it."

Wasps have had a poor start to the season, losing four matches in a row but their pool does appear one of the less tricky ones, with French debutants La Rochelle and Harlequins, who have been an English mid-table side for last few seasons.

And this is still the side that topped the regular Premiership standings last season, before losing to Exeter in the Final.

English champions Exeter have not excelled in Europe so far, but will be expecting to finally make their mark, albeit in what appears a tough pool alongside Leinster, Glasgow and Montpellier.

Three-time champions Toulon look to have drawn the long straw in a pool alongside Bath, Scarlets and Italians Treviso.

It may be the last time an Italian team is seen in the Champions Cup for some time with qualification rules changing for next season, based solely on final league positions and not on nationality.

Since the Champions Cup was reduced from 24 to 20 teams, no Italian side has qualified through merit.

Friday, October 13

Pool One

Ulster v Wasps
(Kingspan Stadium - Kick-off: 19.45; 18.45 GMT)

Wasps have won five of the six meetings between the clubs, however, they've not met in Europe since the 2001/02 season.

Ulster's victory against Wasps in 2001/02 was their first against Premiership opposition in Europe. Including that match, Ulster has won 13 of their last 17 games against English opposition at Kingspan Stadium.

Ulster had the best line-out success rate in the competition last season with 96 percent.

Only Leinster (31) scored more tries in the pool stage last season than Premiership runners-up Wasps (28).

Wasps' Ashley Johnson and Ulster's Iain Henderson were two of just four players to make 50+ carries and 50+ tackles in last season's pool stage, along with Jonny Gray (Glasgow) and Remi Lamerat (Clermont).

Prediction: At Kingspan, only the foolhardy would bet against Ulster. We say by at least 10 points.

The teams:

Ulster: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Louis Ludik, 13 Luke Marshall, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Jacob Stockdale, 10 Christian Lealiifano, 9 John Cooney, 8 Jean Deysel, 7 Sean Reidy, 6 Robbie Diack, 5 Iain Henderson (captain), 4 Kieran Treadwell, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Kyle McCall.
Replacements: 16 John Andrew, 17 Callum Black, 18 Rodney Ah You, 19 Matty Rea, 20 Clive Ross, 21 Paul Marshall, 22 Pete Nelson, 23 Tommy Bowe.

Wasps: 15 Willie Le Roux, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Brendan Macken, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 Thomas Young, 6 James Haskell, 5 Will Rowlands, 4 Joe Launchbury (captain) 3 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 2 Tom Cruse, 1 Matt Mullan.
Replacements: 16 Ashley Johnson, 17 Simon McIntyre, 18 Marty Moore, 19 James Gaskell, 20 Jack Willis, 21 Joe Simpson, 22 Rob Miller, 23 Marcus Watson.

Referee: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)
Assistant referees: Rhys Thomas (Wales), Wayne Davies (Wales)
TMO: Jon Mason (Wales)

Saturday, October 14

Pool Three

Leinster v Montpellier
(RDS Arena - Kick-off: 13.00; 14.00 GMT; 13.00 French time)

This will be the fifth meeting between the clubs.

Leinster have lost just one of the previous four, and won both previous home games against the 2016 Challenge Cup winners.

Leinster and Montpellier met in the pool stage last season with the home team on the day winning each encounter.

Leinster's 57-3 home win over the TOP 14 side was their second biggest in Europe (92-17 v Bourgoin in 2004/05).

Leinster's next try will be their 400th in the Champions Cup, a tally only Toulouse (452), Munster (412) and Leicester Tigers (410) have reached.

Leinster averaged more carries per game than any other side last season (149) and beat the most defenders per game of any side (27).

Montpellier's Nemani Nadolo made 14 clean breaks in the pool stage last season; no player made more - level with David Smith (Castres) and Wesley Fofana (Clermont).

Prediction: Of course Montpellier can win, but we wouldn't even put one beer's worth of money on it. Leinster by 12 points.


Leinster: 15 Joey Carbery, 14 Adam Byrne, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Isa Nacewa (captain), 11 Barry Daly, 10 Ross Byrne, 9 Luke McGrath, 8 Jack Conan, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Rhys Ruddock, 5 Scott Fardy, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 James Tracy, 1 Jack McGrath.
Replacements: 16 Seán Cronin, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Michael Bent, 19 Ross Molony, 20 Jordi Murphy, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Noel Reid, 23 Fergus McFadden.

Montpellier: 15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Benjamin Fall, 13 Joseph Tomane, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Thomas Darmon, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Yacouba Camara, 6 Kelian Galletier, 5 Nicholaas Van Rensburg, 4 Jacques Du Plessis, 3 Antoine Guillamon, 2 Bismarck Du Plessis, 1 Mikheil Nariashvili.
Replacements: 16 Romain Ruffenach, 17 Yvan Watremez, 18 Davit Kubriashvili, 19 Julien Delannoy, 20 Wiaan Liebenberg, 21 Benoit Paillaugue, 22 Timoci Nagusa, 23 Joffrey Michel.

Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant referees: JP Doyle (England), Paul Dix (England)
TMO: Graham Hughes (England)

Pool Four

Racing 92 v Leicester Tigers
(Stade Yves-Du-Manoir - Kick-off: 16.15; 14.15 GMT; 15.15 UK time)

The clubs have met three times previously with each of those encounters coming in the previous two seasons. Racing 92 won the 2016 semifinal at the City Ground, while the sides shared one win apiece during last season's pool stage.

The most recent meeting saw Leicester suffer their heaviest defeat against TOP 14 opposition, and their fifth heaviest overall (34-3).

Racing 92 have won three of their last four home games against Premiership opposition, this after losing their first four games when hosting English sides in the competition.

Racing's Brice Dulin made 23/23 tackles in last season's pool stage, the most of any back to not miss a single attempt.

Prediction: Now here is an intriguing match, even though Leicester are not on top form. They will run the French team close before Racing win by seven points.


Racing 92: 15 Juan Imhoff, 14 Teddy Thomas, 13 Virimi Vakatawa, 12 Henry Chavancy, 11 Joe Rokocoko, 10 Remi Tales, 9 Teddy Iribaren, 8 Yannick Nyanga, 7 Baptiste Chouzenoux, 6 Wenceslas Lauret, 5 Leone Nakarawa, 4 Bernard Le Roux, 3 Census Johnston, 2 Dimitri Szarzewski, 1 Viliamu Afatia.
Replacements: 16 Camille Chat, 17 Eddy Ben Arous, 18 Cedate Gomes Sa, 19 Manuel Carizza, 20 Edwin Maka, 21 Maxime Machenaud, 22 Patrick Lambie, 23 Anthony Tuitavke.

Leicester: 15 Telusa Veainu, 14 Nick Malouf, 13 Matt Smith, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Jonny May, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Sione Kalamafoni, 7 Luke Hamilton, 6 Mike Williams, 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 Dom Barrow, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tom Youngs (captain), 1 Ellis Genge
Replacements: 16 George McGuigan, 17 Greg Bateman, 18 Pat Cilliers, 19 Dan Tuohy, 20 Brendon O’Connor, 21 Ben White, .22 Joe Ford, 23 Mathew Tait.

Referee: John Lacey (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Stuart Gaffikin (Ireland), Paul Haycock (Ireland)
TMO: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland)

Pool One

Harlequins v La Rochelle
(The Twickenham Stoop - Kick-off: 17.30; 18.30 French time; 16.30 GMT)

This will be the first meeting between the clubs.

La Rochelle is making their Champions Cup debut, becoming the 21st TOP 14 side to participate in the tournament.

Harlequins have won seven of their last nine games against TOP 14 opposition in the Champions Cup, losing only to ASM Clermont Auvergne (twice) in that run.

La Rochelle has faced Premiership opposition on 17 occasions in the Challenge Cup, winning just five of those matches.

La Rochelle averaged 10 missed tackles per game in the Challenge Cup last season, fewer than any other side.

La Rochelle's Kini Murimurivalu made 88 carries in last season's Challenge Cup, only Worcester's Matt Cox (100) made more.

Prediction: This is our pick for an upset, with La Rochelle's massive pack to help them edge ahead and win by nine points.


Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Marland Yarde, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Danny Care, 8 Mat Luamanu, 7 Chris Robshaw, 6 Ben Glynn, 5 James Horwill (captain), 4 Charlie Matthews, 3 Will Collier, 2 Dave Ward, 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Elia Elia, 17 Mark Lambert, 18 Phil Swainston, 19 George Merrick, 20 Archie White, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 Tim Swiel, 23 Francis Saili.

La Rochelle: 15 Kini Murimurivalu, 14 Vincent Rattez, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 Geoffrey Doumayrou, 11 Jérémy Sinzelle, 10 Ryan Lamb, 9 Alexis Bales, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Zeno Kieft, 6 Kevin Gourdon, 5 Jone Qovu Nailiko, 4 Jason Eaton, 3 Uini Atonio, 2 Hikairo Forbes, 1 Dany Priso.
Replacements: 16 Pierre Bourgarit, 17 Mike Corbel, 18 Vincent Pelo, 19 Gregory Lamboley, 20 Afa Amosa, 21 Jean-Victor Goillot, 22 Pierre Aguillon, 23 Gabriel Lacroix.

Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)
Assistant referees: Andrea Piardi (Italy), Simone Boaretto (Italy)
TMO: Stefano Penne (Italy)

Pool Five

Bath v Benetton
(The Recreation Ground - Kick-off: 17.30; 18.309 Italian time; 16.30 GMT)

This will be the fourth meeting between the sides with Bath winning two of the previous three games.

This will be their first encounter since the 2004/05 season.

Bath's defeat to Benetton in 2004/05 was their only loss to Italian opposition in Europe (including Challenge Cup) They've won 16 of 17 such games overall, including six of seven in the Champions Cup.

Benetton won their first away game against Premiership opposition in the European Cup, in November 1999 (v Harlequins). However, they've lost on all 14 trips to England since.

Bath have lost their last four pool games - they've never lost five in a row at this stage.

Semesa Rokoduguni averaged 5.7 defenders beaten per game in last season's Challenge Cup, more than any other player to have played more than once.

Prediction: One-way traffic - Bath by plenty, at least 20 points.


Bath: 15 Anthony Watson, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Max Clark, 11 Aled Brew, 10 Josh Lewis, 9 Chris Cook, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Zach Mercer, 5 Luke Charteris, 4 Charlie Ewels (captain), 3 Anthony Perenise, 2 Tom Dunn, 1 Nick Auterac.
Replacements: 16 Nathan Charles, 17 Beno Obano, 18 Scott Andrews, 19 James Phillips, 20 Francois Louw, 21 Kahn Fotuali’i, 22 Jack Wilson, 23 Darren Allinson.

Benetton Rugby: 15 Luca Sperandio, 14 Angelo Esposito, 13 Nacho Brex, 12 Alberto Sgarbi, 11 Tommaso Benvenuti, 10 Ian McKinley, 9 Giorgio Bronzini, 8 Robert Barbieri, 7 Francesco Minto, 6 Seb Negri Da Oleggio, 5 Federico Ruzza, 4 Marco Fuser, 3 Simone Ferrari, 2 Luca Bigi, 1 Federico Zani.
Replacements: 16 Tomas Baravalle, 17 Cherif Traore, 18 Tiziano Pasquali, 19 Marco Lazzaroni, 20 Nasi Manu, 21 Edoardo Gori, 22 Tito Tebaldi, 23 Andrea Bronzini.

Referee: Mike Adamson (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Nigel Owens (Wales), Sam Grove White (Scotland)
TMO: Neil Hennessy (Wales)

Pool Three

Exeter Chiefs v Glasgow Warriors
(Sandy Park - Kick-off: 19.45; 18.45 GMT)

This will be the third meeting between the clubs in Europe after they clashed in the 2013/14 pool stage.

Glasgow won both previous meetings, although Exeter claimed a losing bonus point on each occasion.

Glasgow has won just two of their 19 games away to Premiership opposition. However, both those victories have come in their last five trips to England.

Exeter has a 50 percent win rate against Pro14 opposition in the Champions Cup, with four of their six victories coming at Sandy Park.

During last season's pool stage, Exeter averaged 19 minutes and 36 seconds in possession per game - the most of any club.

The two top tacklers in last season's pool stage were both Glasgow players - Jonny Gray made the most (76), while Ryan Wilson made the second most (70).

Prediction: Even with New Zealander Dave Rennie as coach, Glasgow will struggle to beat the Premiership champions. Exeter Chiefs by 15 points.


Exeter: 15 Phil Dollman, 14 Lachie Turner, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Ian Whitten, 11 Olly Woodburn, 10 Gareth Steenson, 9 Nic White, 8 Sam Simmonds, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Don Armand, 5 Jonny Hill, 4 Mitch Lees, 3 Harry Williams, 2 Jack Yeandle (captain), 1 Ben Moon.
Replacements: 16 Elvis Taione, 17 Carl Rimmer, 18 Tomas Francis, 19 Ollie Atkins, 20 Thomas Waldrom, 21 Stuart Townsend, 22 Tom Hendrickson, 23 James Short.

Glasgow: 15 Ruaridh Jackson, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Nick Grigg, 12 Peter Horne, 11 Lee Jones, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Ali Price, 8 Adam Ashe, 7 Callum Gibbins, 6 Ryan Wilson (captain), 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Tim Swinson, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 Fraser Brown, 1 Jamie Bhatti.
Replacements: 16 George Turner, 17 Alex Allan, 18 D’Arcy Rae, 19 Scott Cummings, 20 Rob Harley, 21 Henry Pyrgos, 22 Sam Johnson, 23 Niko Matawalu.

Referee: Alexandre Ruiz (France)
Assistant referees: Thomas Charabas (France), Laurent Cardona (France)
TMO: Philip Bonhoure (France)

Sunday, October 15

Pool Four

Castres Olympique v Munster
(Stade Pierre Fabre - Kick-off: 14.00; 13.00 UK time; 12.00 GMT)

This will be the 13th meeting between Castres and Munster in the European Cup, the most played fixture in the competition's history (currently level with Edinburgh v Toulouse on 12).

Munster have won nine of their previous 12 games against Castres, only two sides have beaten another team as often in the Champions Cup - Leicester Tigers (won 10 v Benetton) and Toulouse (won 10 v Edinburgh).

Castres are without a win in their last 10 games against Irish opposition, although they picked up a draw in their most recent such encounter against Leinster last season.

Munster conceded an average of just 13.3 points and 0.9 tries per game in the Champions Cup last season, fewer than any other side.

Munster's Billy Holland made 57/57 tackles last season, the most of any player to not miss a single attempt.

Prediction: The bookmakers may have Munster as favourites, but at home French teams are always much tougher and we feel Castres will win by about eight points.


Castres: 15 Julien Dumora, 14 Taylor Paris, 13 Afusipa Taumoepeau, 12 Robert Ebersohn, 11 David Smith, 10 Benjamin Urdapilleta, 9 Rory Kockott, 8 Maama Vaipulu, 7 Steve Mafi, 6 Yannick Caballero, 5 Rodrigo Capo Ortega, 4 Loic Jacquet, 3 Daniel Kotze, 2 Jody Jenneker, 1 Antoine Tichit.
Replacements: 16 Marc-Antoine Rallier, 17 Mihaita Lazar, 18 Damien Tussac, 19 Christophe Samson, 20 Anthony Jelonch, 21 Ludovic Radosavljevic, 22 Florian Vialelle, 23 Armand Batlle.

Munster: 15 Simon Zebo, 14 Darren Sweetnam, 13 Chris Farrell, 12 Rory Scannell, 11 Keith Earls, 10 Tyler Bleyendaal, 9 Conor Murray, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Tommy O'Donnell, 6 Peter O’Mahony (captain), 5 Billy Holland, 4 Mark Flanagan, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Niall Scannell, 1 Dave Kilcoyne.
Replacements: 16 Rhys Marshall, 17 Liam O’Connor, 18 John Ryan, 19 Robin Copeland, 20 Jack O’Donoghue, 21 Duncan Williams, 22 Ian Keatley, 23 Andrew Conway.

Referee: Matthew Carley (England)
Assistant referees: Tim Wigglesworth (England), Steve Lee (England)
TMO: David Grashoff (England)

Pool Five

RC Toulon v Scarlets
(Stade Félix Mayol - Kick-off: 16.15; 15.15 UK time; 14.15 GMT)

The clubs have met four times previously in the Champions Cup with RC Toulon winning three of those games, although Scarlets won the most recent encounter.

Toulon has won 20 of their 21 home games in the Champions Cup, losing only to Saracens at Stade Félix Mayol in their opening game last season.

Scarlets have lost their last nine away games in the Champions Cup. However, their last away victory came in France against Racing 92 in the 2013/14 pool stage.

Scarlets averaged 136 tackles per game in the Champions Cup last season, more than any other side.

Of players to attempt 20+ kicks at goal in the competition last season, Rhys Patchell had the best success rate with 91 percent (21/23).

Prediction: Tough test for Scarlets and we think Toulon have the firepower to win by at least 10 points.


Toulon: 15 Hugo Bonneval, 14 Josua Tuisova, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Chris Ashton, 10 Anthony Belleau, 9 Eric Escande, 8 Raphael Lakafia, 7 Facundo Isa, 6 Juan Fernandez Lobbe, 5 Mamuka Gorgodze, 4 Swan Rebbadj, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Guilhem Guirado, 1 Florian Fresia.
Replacements: 16 Anthony Etrillard, 17 Xavier Chiocci, 18 Levan Chilachava, 19 Rudy Gahetau, 20 Semi Radradra, 21 Francois Trinh-Duc, 22 Sebastien Tillous-Borde, 23 Juandre Kruger.

Scarlets: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Johnny McNicholl, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Scott Williams, 11 Steff Evans, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Aled Davies, 8 Tadhg Beirne, 7 Will Boyde, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Lewis Rawlins, 4 Jake Ball, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Ryan Elias, 1 Wyn Jones.
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Dylan Evans, 18 Werner Kruger, 19 David Bulbring, 20 Joshua Macleod, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Paul Asquith, 23 Hadleigh Parkes.

Referee: Luke Pearce (England)
Assistant referees: Jack Makepeace (England), Nigel Carrick (England)
TMO: Rowan Kitt (England)

Pool Two

Northampton Saints v Saracens
(Franklin's Gardens - Kick-off: 17.30; 16.30 GMT)

This will be the second meeting between the sides in the Champions Cup and the third in Europe overall. Both previous European encounters came in the knockout stage with Northampton winning a Challenge Cup semifinal in 2009 before Saracens had their revenge in the 2016 Champions Cup quarterfinal.

Saracens are unbeaten in their last 18 games; only Scarlets managed to avoid defeat to the reigning champions during that run.

Saints have lost just one of their last six home games; their four wins in that run all came by no more than seven points.

Saracens have won back-to-back titles, and to date, only RC Toulon have managed to win the tournament three seasons in a row (2013, 2014 and 2015).

Owen Farrell - last season's top scorer (126) and EPCR European Player of the Year-needs just four points to reach 600 in the Champions Cup; only Ronan O'Gara, Stephen Jones, Dimitri Yachvili and Diego Dominguez have scored more.

Prediction: Our match of the weekend, with the smart money on a Saracens win - by 12 points.


Northampton: 15 Ahsee Tuala, 14 George North, 13 Luther Burrell, 12 Piers Francis, 11 Ben Foden, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Teimana Harrison, 7 Jamie Gibson, 6 Courtney Lawes, 5 David Ribbans, 4 Michael Paterson, 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Dylan Hartley (captain), 1 Alex Waller.
Replacements: 16 Mikey Haywood, 17 Francois van Wyk, 18 Jamal Ford-Robinson, 19 Api Ratuniyarawa, 20 Tom Wood, 21 Nic Groom, 22 Harry Mallinder, 23 Tom Collins.

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Liam Williams, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Brad Barritt (c), 11 Chris Wyles, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Jackson Wray, 7 Calum Clark, 6 Maro Itoje, 5 George Kruis, 4 Nick Isiekwe, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Jamie George, 1 Mako Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Richard Barrington, 18 Juan Figallo, 19 Dominic Day, 20 Schalk Burger, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Alex Lozowski, 23 Duncan Taylor.

Referee: Pascal Gauzere (France)
Assistant referees: Cyril Lafon (France), Jean-Luc Rebollal (France)
TMO: Eric Gauzins (France)

Pool Two

Ospreys v ASM Clermont Auvergne
(Liberty Stadium - Kick-off: 17.30; 16.30 UK time; 15.30 GMT)

The clubs have met six times previously with the home side on the day winning each of those six encounters.

The Ospreys have won their last three home games in the Champions Cup - the last time they went on a longer such run was between 2007 to 2011.

Clermont has won six of their last seven games against Welsh opposition, although their one defeat in that run did come in their most recent such fixture against the Ospreys in January 2016.

Clermont's next try will be their 300th in the Champions Cup; they scored 33 last season, the highest total by the club in a single campaign.

Osprey's Dan Biggar is just three points away from becoming the 10th player to score 500 points in the European Cup.

Prediction: Nobody is giving Ospreys a chance and with good reason. Clermont should start with an away win - by 15 points.


Ospreys: 15 Dan Evans, 14 Keelan Giles, 13 Kieron Fonotia, 12 Owen Watkin, 11 Cory Allen, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Rhys Webb, 8 Dan Baker, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (captain), 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Dmitri Arhip, 2 Scott Otten, 1 Nicky Smith.
Replacements: 16 Sam Parry, 17 Paul James, 18 Ma’afu Fia, 19 Lloyd Ashley, 20 Olly Cracknell, 21 Tom Habberfield, 22 Sam Davies, 23 James Hook.

Clermont: 15 Scott Spedding, 14 David Strettle, 13 Damian Penaud, 12 Remi Lamerat, 11 Alivereti Raka, 10 Camille Lopez, 9 Morgan Parra, 8 Fritz Lee, 7 Alexandre Lapandry, 6 Judicaël Cancoriet, 5 Sébastien Vahaamahina, 4 Paul Jedrasiak, 3 Rabah Slimani, 2 Benjamin Kayser 1 Raphael Chaume.
Replacements: 16 Yohan Beheregaray, 17 Etienne Falgoux, 18 Aaron Jarvis, 19 Sitaleki Timani, 20 Peceli Yato, 21 Greig Laidlaw, 22 Pato Fernandez, 23 Peter Betham.

Referee: Andrew Brace (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Nigel Correll (Ireland), Mark Patton (Ireland)
TMO: Simon McDowell (Ireland)

@ChampionsCup & AFP


Mc article saints v saracens 2017 800

Sarries hammer poor Saints

Sun, 15 Oct 2017 16:00

CHAMPIONS CUP REPORT: Holders Saracens kicked off their European Champions Cup campaign in style with eight tries in a 57-13 thrashing of Northampton on Sunday at Franklin's Gardens.

The two-time defending champions' display was reminiscent of the one that saw them thrash Saints 55-24 at Twickenham on the opening day of the Premiership season.

A Liam Williams double and Brad Barritt's score helped Sarries storm into a 19-point lead early on, before former Northampton flank Calum Clark sealed a bonus point before half-time.

It took Saracens less than four minutes of the second half to score a fifth try through Vincent Koch, before Mako Vunipola, Alex Lozowski and Ben Spencer crossed as Northampton were outscored eight tries to one, despite Mike Haywood's consolation.

Hooker Jamie George also totally outplayed opposite number Dylan Hartley in front of England coach Eddie Jones, as Saracens notched their biggest ever away win in Europe, which was Northampton's heaviest home defeat.

They go top of a perilous-looking Pool Two ahead of Clermont, after the French side grabbed an impressive 26-21 victory at Ospreys.

Northampton forged ahead with an early penalty from Stephen Myler, but Saracens showed their class with a wonderful score.

Fast hands across the back line opened up the home team's defence, as an incisive pass from Owen Farrell was flicked on by American international Chris Wyles to send Williams over in the corner.

England international Farrell made no mistake with the conversion, before slotting over a penalty to make it 10-3.

A driving maul from a five-metre line-out ended with centre Barritt bundling over, with Farrell making his second tricky conversion look simple.

Northampton's first half went from bad to worse when British and Irish Lions winger George North was forced off with what looked to be a knee injury.

The visitors showed no mercy though, as Williams bagged his second try by running onto Marcelo Bosch's pass, before bouncing off two tackles and touching down in the corner.

A big hit by Farrell on Ben Foden caused a scuffle that finally sparked the home crowd into life and Myler, making his first start of the season, kicked his second penalty.

But the one-way traffic continued as Northampton lost David Ribbans to the sin bin and Clark touched down against his former club, with Farrell duly making it 29-6 at the break.

With the hosts still down to 14 at the start of the second period, Farrell's break created a simple try for Koch, with the creator kicking his fourth conversion.

England prop Mako Vunipola powered through with 20 minutes left and Lozowski ran clear to score under the posts.

Haywood finally gave the home fans something to cheer, but Northampton's misery was compounded as Spencer cleverly dived behind a Northampton ruck on the Saints tryline to get a hand on the ball and score an opportunistic eighth try.

Farrell converted once more to finish with 17 points.

The scorers:

For Northampton:
Try: Haywood
Con: Mallinder
Pens: Myler 2

For Saracens:
Tries: Williams 2, Barritt, Clark, Koch, Vunipola, Lozowski, Spencer
Cons: Farrell 7
Pen: Farrell

Yellow card: David Ribbans (Saints, 40 - cynical play, offside)


Northampton: 15 Ahsee Tuala, 14 George North, 13 Luther Burrell, 12 Piers Francis, 11 Ben Foden, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Teimana Harrison, 7 Jamie Gibson, 6 Courtney Lawes, 5 David Ribbans, 4 Michael Paterson, 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Dylan Hartley (captain), 1 Alex Waller.
Replacements: 16 Mikey Haywood, 17 Francois van Wyk, 18 Jamal Ford-Robinson, 19 Api Ratuniyarawa, 20 Tom Wood, 21 Nic Groom, 22 Harry Mallinder, 23 Tom Collins.

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Liam Williams, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Brad Barritt (captain), 11 Chris Wyles, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Jackson Wray, 7 Calum Clark, 6 Maro Itoje, 5 George Kruis, 4 Nick Isiekwe, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Jamie George, 1 Mako Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Richard Barrington, 18 Juan Figallo, 19 Dominic Day, 20 Schalk Burger, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Alex Lozowski, 23 Duncan Taylor.

Referee: Pascal Gauzere (France)
Assistant referees: Cyril Lafon (France), Jean-Luc Rebollal (France)
TMO: Eric Gauzins (France)


Mikey Haywood (75min)
Liam Williams (11min), Brad Barritt (20min), Liam Williams (29min), Calum Clark (39min), Vincent Koch (41min), Mako Vunipola (64min), Alex Lozowski (67min), and Ben Spencer (77min)
Harry Mallinder (76min)
Owen Farrell (12min), Owen Farrell (21min), Owen Farrell (40min), Owen Farrell (42min), Owen Farrell (65min), Owen Farrell (69min), and Owen Farrell (78min)
Stephen Myler (8min) and Stephen Myler (33min)
Owen Farrell (15min)
Jamie Gibson (38min)
VENUE Franklin's Gardens
REFEREE Pascal Gauzere (France)