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ECRR: Scarlets v Saracens Preview
We preview Sunday's European Rugby Champions Cup game between the Scarlets and Saracens.
Saracens are runaway leaders of Pool 3, having won all four of their matches. They may, however, find the going tough against a Scarlets side looking to reel in Toulon and claim second position when the Londoners visit the Parc y Scarlets on Sunday.
Scarlets v Saracens | Sunday 15 January | Parc Y Scarlets | 15:00
To Win (80 mins)
Scarlets 32/10 | Draw 22/1 | Saracens 1/4
In what is turning out to be a potentially promising season for the Welsh outfit, the Scarlets currently sit in fifth position on th Pro12 standing (just one point off of fourth-placed Glasgow) and could heap more pressure on former champions Toulon to qualify, with a win at home this weekend. With two wins on the bounce coming into this match (and four from their last six in all competitions), the men in red will be quietly confident going against the Saracens juggernaut.
With several classy players in their ranks such as Liam Williams, Garett Davies, D.T.H van der Merwe and Jonathan Davies, the Scarlets' backline will always have a degree of X-Factor about it. Their forwards however, lack the talent promise of their backs, and they run the risk of being targeted by Saracens on match day.
Sarries meanwhile, have ascended to first place in Pool 3 and are eight points above nearest challengers Toulon. With their progression to the knockout phase secure, the Londoners may decide to pick an understrength side to do battle this weekend. Last weekend's comeback draw against Exeter ended a four-match winning streak, and they will be hurting after the disappointing result at home.
Whatever Saracens team is picked this week, expect them to come out all guns blazing, and to show their hosts little mercy. The Londoners will want to keep their unbeaten record in the competition intact (indeed, the last time they lost a game amongst European rugby's elite was way back in the 2014/15 season), and will go hard in at their Welsh counterparts.
Verdict: Saracens 1/4
Saracens are clear favorites to take this one. Despite playing away, the only way I can see a Scarlets loss is if Saracens play their second-stringers - and even then Mark McCall's well-coached side may come out trumps. Expect a Sarries win by 15 or more.