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, 15 December 2017
Ulster v Harlequins 19h45 Kingspan Stadium
Sat, 16 December 2017
Montpellier v Glasgow Warriors 13h00 Altrad Stadium
Treviso v Scarlets 13h00 Stadio Comunale di Monigo
Leinster v Exeter Chiefs 15h15 Aviva Stadium
Racing Metro v Castres 15h15 Stade Yves-du-Manoir
Bath v Toulon 17h30 Recreation Ground
Sun, 17 December 2017
Wasps v La Rochelle 13h00 Ricoh Arena
Clermont Auvergne v Saracens 15h15 Stade Marcel-Michelin
Ospreys v Northampton Saints 15h15 Liberty Stadium
Leicester Tigers v Munster 17h30 Welford Road
RESULT SCORE
Mon, 11 December 2017
Saracens v Clermont Auvergne 14 | 46
Sun, 10 December 2017
Exeter Chiefs v Leinster 8 | 18
Harlequins v Ulster 5 | 17
La Rochelle v Wasps 49 | 29
Sat, 09 December 2017
Munster v Leicester Tigers 33 | 10
Castres v Racing Metro 16 | 13
Northampton Saints v Ospreys 32 | 43
Toulon v Bath 24 | 20
Scarlets v Treviso 33 | 28
Fri, 08 December 2017
Glasgow Warriors v Montpellier 22 | 29
Sun, 03 December 2017
Harlequins v Saracens 20 | 19
Sat, 02 December 2017
Cheetahs v Scarlets 28 | 21
Munster v Ospreys 36 | 10
Wasps v Leicester Tigers 32 | 25
Treviso v Leinster 10 | 36
EUROPEAN CUP
MORE LOGS
Pool 1
Team P W D L Pts
La Rochelle 3 3 0 0 15
Ulster 3 1 0 2 8
Wasps 3 1 0 2 6
Harlequins 3 0 0 3 1
Pool 2
Team P W D L Pts
Clermont Auvergne 3 3 0 0 14
Saracens 3 2 0 1 10
Ospreys 3 1 0 2 8
Northampton Saints 3 0 0 3 1
Pool 3
Team P W D L Pts
Leinster 3 3 0 0 14
Exeter Chiefs 3 2 0 1 8
Montpellier 3 1 0 2 8
Glasgow Warriors 3 0 0 3 1
Pool 4
Team P W D L Pts
Munster 3 2 1 0 11
Castres 3 1 1 1 7
Leicester Tigers 3 1 0 2 6
Racing Metro 3 1 0 2 6
Pool 5
Team P W D L Pts
Toulon 3 3 0 0 12
Bath 3 2 0 1 9
Scarlets 3 1 0 2 7
Treviso 3 0 0 3 3