Saracens skipper excited by Dublin date with Munster

Mon, 03 Apr 2017 07:41

REACTION: Saracens captain Brad Barritt insisted his title-holders would be undaunted by the prospect of a European Champions Cup semifinal away to Irish province Munster.

The London club, who are also the reigning English champions, booked their place in the last four with a convincing 38-13 quarterfinal win at home to Glasgow on Sunday.

In front of 15 000 supporters at their Allianz Park ground, Saracens scored four tries, with England wing Chris Ashton crossing twice.

Barritt and fellow centre Marcelo Bosch grabbed Saracens' other two tries against a Glasgow side making their first appearance in the knockout phase.

Saracens, by contrast, are now through to a fifth successive semifinal.

Dublin's Lansdowne Road has often proved an unhappy hunting ground for English sides at both club and international level.

Indeed it was only a few weeks ago that several Saracens stars were members of the England side who saw their hopes of a Six Nations Grand Slam dashed with a 9-13 defeat to Ireland at the Aviva Stadium, as the ground is now known.

"The pleasing thing is that over these five or six years we have thrived on going to places where we potentially have not won before," Barritt said.

"It started in our Vicarage Road days when we didn't get much of a crowd and we thrived on going to [Leicester's] Welford Road and [Gloucester's] Kingsholm.

"This is the next logical step - to go to a national stadium to play an iconic team like Munster," the 30-year-old Saracens stalwart added.

"We will look forward to it. We don't see it as a daunting prospect - we see it as an exciting opportunity," explained Barritt, capped 26 times by England.

Premiership leaders Wasps lost 17-32 to Leinster at the Aviva on Saturday and Saracens Director of Rugby Mark McCall, himself a former Ireland international, said it was important his players got used to the prospect of playing before a sell-out and partisan crowd of more than 50 000.

"The players don't realise it yet - hopefully they will when they get there - but it's going to be a very special day," McCall said.

"We played Clermont a couple of years ago when there were 30 000 Clermont fans and us. This is going to be double that - there will be 50 000 Munster fans.

"We all know there's an emotional element to this game and we have to make sure we're able to cope with that," said McCall, with Munster especially fired-up following the shock death of popular coach Anthony Foley on the eve of a Champions Cup pool match in Paris in October.

"One of the benefits for us is that we have players who have been through it all before.

"We have a team that relishes these kinds of occasions."

Glasgow coach Gregor Townsend, who will take charge of Scotland at the end of the season, paid tribute to the way Saracens had overwhelmed his side.

"We're obviously disappointed," said Townsend.

"We put in huge effort to get here and we didn't deliver.

"Saracens did a number of things very well, their physicality when carrying the ball being one of them. The pace they played at was excellent. They were outstanding," the former Scotland playmaker added.

"A French journalist spoke to me at the start of the year and said Saracens are going to win Europe, saying they're unbeatable.

"And when you see them play like that, they're very difficult to beat. They've expanded their game. They got their back three on the ball a lot."

Leinster's reward for seeing off Wasps was a semifinal away to Clermont, who hammered French rivals and three-time former European champions Toulon 29-9 on Sunday.

"We have a big obstacle to clear first against Leinster before dreaming of the title," cautioned Clermont's flyhalf Camille Lopez.

Agence France-Presse

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FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Fri, 28 April 2017
Highlanders v Stormers 07h35 Dunedin
Cardiff Blues v Zebre 18h05 Cardiff
Edinburgh v Dragons 18h35 Myreside
Leinster v Glasgow Warriors 18h35 RDS Arena
Newcastle Falcons v Worcester Warriors 19h00 Kingston Park
Sat, 29 April 2017
Chiefs v Sunwolves 07h35 Hamilton
Reds v Waratahs 09h45 Suncorp Stadium
Force v Lions 11h55 Perth
Ospreys v Ulster 14h00 Liberty Stadium
Bath v Gloucester 14h00 Recreation Ground
Exeter Chiefs v Northampton Saints 14h00 Sandy Park
Saracens v Bristol 14h00 Allianz Park
Harlequins v Wasps 14h00 Twickenham Stoop
Leicester Tigers v Sale Sharks 14h00 Welford Road
Cheetahs v Crusaders 15h15 Bloemfontein
Treviso v Munster 17h05 Stadio Monigo
Kings v Rebels 17h30 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Connacht v Scarlets 18h35 Sportsground
Jaguares v Sharks 19h40 Buenos Aires
Sun, 30 April 2017
Brumbies v Blues 06h05 Canberra
RESULT SCORE
Sun, 23 April 2017
Clermont Auvergne v Leinster 27 | 22
Sat, 22 April 2017
Sharks v Rebels 9 | 9
Bulls v Cheetahs 20 | 14
Munster v Saracens 10 | 26
Force v Chiefs 7 | 16
Crusaders v Stormers 57 | 24
Highlanders v Sunwolves 40 | 15
Fri, 21 April 2017
Lions v Jaguares 24 | 21
Waratahs v Kings 24 | 26
Hurricanes v Brumbies 56 | 21
Mon, 17 April 2017
UP-Tuks v Maties 28 | 21
Sun, 16 April 2017
Bristol v Wasps 21 | 36
Northampton Saints v Saracens 25 | 27
Sat, 15 April 2017
Connacht v Leinster 24 | 37
Treviso v Edinburgh 21 | 6
EUROPEAN CUP
MORE LOGS
Pool 1
Team P W D L Pts
Munster 6 5 0 1 24
Glasgow Warriors 6 4 0 2 19
Leicester Tigers 6 2 0 4 8
Racing Metro 6 1 0 5 5
Pool 2
Team P W D L Pts
Wasps 6 4 1 1 22
Toulouse 6 3 2 1 18
Connacht 6 4 0 2 18
Zebre 6 0 0 6 0
Pool 3
Team P W D L Pts
Saracens 6 5 1 0 24
Toulon 6 3 0 3 16
Scarlets 6 2 1 3 11
Sale Sharks 6 1 0 5 4
Pool 4
Team P W D L Pts
Leinster 6 4 1 1 23
Montpellier 6 3 0 3 16
Castres 6 2 1 3 12
Northampton Saints 6 2 0 4 9
Pool 5
Team P W D L Pts
Clermont Auvergne 6 5 0 1 26
Bordeaux 6 3 0 3 14
Exeter Chiefs 6 2 0 4 12
Ulster 6 2 0 4 10