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Munster vs Saracens – European Champions Cup – Saturday, 17:30 GMT
Munster come into their third game of the European Champions Cup looking to add to their single win from the campaign. A powerful 32-13 win over the Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium in round one was followed by an exhilarating 21-21 draw with Racing at Thomond Park but while this game was exciting, it was one that the Irish side will see as a dropping of points considering they would have earmarked their home battles as ones they needed to take maximum points from, especially when considering the calibre of teams in their group. Visitors Saracens arrive at the bottom of the Premiership, although this is totally down to their points deduction. Four wins from a possible five should see the outfit rubbing shoulders with the sides at the top, but they are currently 22 points short of Leicester in 11th. Despite this deduction, Sarries looked back to normal last week as they were able to grind past Bath in a 25-12 win, while they hammered the Ospreys 44-3 in their only win of the Champions Cup the week before. With one win apiece for the two sides in Europe this is one neither cannot afford to lose, especially if Racing are to beat the Ospreys as they are expected to.
In this one then, we are predicting a cagey game as both will want to edge past the other and ensure a win rather than looking for lots of tries through open play, which will give the opposition the chance to hurt them in return. While Munster are an outstanding outfit and can beat anyone on their day, this almost feels like a knockout rugby match (despite the fact each team still has to play the reverse of all of their fixtures). We all know then that the ultimate knockout team over the last few years has been Sarries, with the side serial winners both domestically and abroad. The likes of Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje and Mako Vunipola will all still be hurting after their World Cup final defeat and will not want to exit a competition early again, meaning they will likely be at their defiant best and, with the power and intelligence of the Sarries’ pack coupled with their superb tactical kicking and incisive runners now bolstered by Elliot Daly, we are predicting a Saracens win, even if it is a tight one.