Saracens Set Sights On Vulnerable Munster Win
Munster face Saracens at Allianz Park on Saturday where both sides will be eager for a much needed win…
Saracens endured a poor run of domestic form in October and November, losing three times, but appeared to have put that behind them with a run of five consecutive wins in all competitions,
…including a 78-7 thrashing of London Welsh and back-to-back victories over Sale in Europe. But they go into this key game having slipped to a disappointing 24-23 defeat at struggling Gloucester last weekend.
A morale boosting victory over Leinster in October kick-started a run of five consecutive wins that took Munster to the top of the Pro 12 table, but their form has been patchy since. Although they completed a rare double over Leinster, defeats to Glasgow and Connacht saw them drop to third, and back to back losses to Clermont mean they have it all to do to qualify from Pool 1 in the European Cup.
Saracens were without either of their fly-halves for the game at Gloucester, but Owen Farrell and Charlie Hodgson will both be available for this crucial game and the home side will be further boosted by the return of England centre Brad Barritt, who has been missing since suffering a calf strain in the autumn Test against Australia.
One or two of Munster’s walking wounded have returned to action, but they are still significantly weakened, missing key players such as Damien Varley, Mike Sherry, Cian Bohane and Gerhard van den Heever, Robin Copeland, Dave Kilcoyne and Andrew Smith are close to a return, but unlikely to be picked this weekend, and scrum half Conor Murray is also a doubt, after picking up a neck injury against Zebre.
The first meetings between Saracens and Munster came in the Pool stage of the 1999-2000 Heineken Cup. Both games were settled by a single point, but it was the Irish side that prevailed on both occasions and that has largely continued.
They met again in the semi-final of the same competition in 2008, and Munster once again prevailed by a narrow margin, en route to their second Heineken Cup trophy.
Saracens’ only victory in this fixture came four years later when they won 19-13 at Vicarage Road, having lost the reverse fixture eight days earlier at Thomond Park.
Their last meeting, in October saw Munster beat Saracens for the fifth time in six attempts. The game was level at half-time, but a David Kilcoyne try on the hour mark allowed the home side to take control and they held on to win 14-3.
This is a must win game for both sides, neither of which have been at their best so far this season, but I feel Saracens will edge it. Munster are still missing several key players, and their form has been a lot patchier than their opponents. Back Saracens -6 at 10/11 in the Match Handicap market.