Saracens, the defending champions and heavy favourites to go back-to-back, will be put under a severe pressure against a very good Warriors side, this Sunday.
Defending champions Saracens come into Sunday’s quarter-final against the Glasgow Warrior as hot favourites. The Londoners have just gotten their English internationals back, and their quality shone through as they bossed the show during ‘Saries 53-10 Aviva Premiership victory over Bath, last Sunday. It’s unlikely to be as easy for Saracens this Sunday as they face a Warriors side laden with Scottish internationals, including Finn Russel and Stuart Hogg.
Saracens v Glasgow Warriors | Sunday 2 April | Allianz Park | 14:00|
To Win (80 Mins)
Saracens 1/8 | Draw 28/1 | Glasgow 5/1
Saracens (-12.5) 9/10 | Glasgow (12.5) 9/10
*Please note that these are forecasted handicaps. The correct handicaps will be added upon release
The ‘Saries juggernaut marches on in 2016/17, winning Pool 3 (with five wins and just one draw) and well on course to become to be the first side in European history to go through two consecutive ERCC campaigns undefeated.
The confidence and swagger they showed in their Pool matches consolidates what everyone already knows about Mark McCall’s men – that they have made winning a habit in Europe, and that this should continue despite their recent wayward domestic results.
Sarries’ indifferent form in recent domestic games seems to have been ended on the weekend, when they took Bath apart in a 53-10 annihilation (with a little help from some of their returning internationals). Their win was superb, finished off by a strong showing in the second-half where they absolutely dominated proceedings. The returning England contingent of Owen Farrell, Mako Vunipola, Jamie George, Maro Itoje and Billy Vunipola all made big impacts, and will all certainly be under Warren Gatland’s Lions radar.
They come into this clash against a Glasgow side that has punched above its weight this season, and who have produced some impressive victories against some of the competition’s ‘big dogs’. Saracens will need every bit of their firepower this weekend, and will need to shut down the likes of Finn Russell and co. if they are to knock their steady opponents off balance. With the talent at their disposal, however, they should (on paper) have no trouble doing so.
Gregor Townsend’s side has been one of the good-news stories of the current European season. Seemingly taking momentum from the splendid performances of the Scotland national team, the Warriors won four of their six Pool 1 matches and managed to finish more than ten points above Leicester and the defending champions, Racing 92 – not bad for one of the supposed ‘weaker’ teams in the competition.
The Warriors will be buoyed by the impressive form of (amongst others) Stuart Hogg, Russell and Tommy Seymour, who all played massive roles in igniting the Scottish backline in the Six Nations. Should they manage to cut down the likes of Itoje and the Vunipola brothers early on, they may be able to nullify the space of the Saracens attacking game and perhaps put them under some real pressure. A lot depends on the set-piece and collision battle, but Glasgow may be able to pull off the shock-of-all-shocks if they front up this weekend. Minimal mistakes and huge intensity will be key.
Verdict: Saracens 1/8
I’ll back Sarries to take it – but not by much. The Scots will work them hard, and there will only be a few points in it at the end.