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Two sides who have already qualified for the knockout stage of the Heineken Champions Cup meet in Round 4 as Edinburgh Rugby welcome Saracens to the DAM Health Stadium on Sunday.
Saracens have three wins out of three, while Edinburgh’s only defeat in the competition came in the reverse fixture in the opening weekend, when they fell 30-26 at the StoneX Stadium.
Both sides enjoyed impressive wins in Round 3 – Saracens beat Lyon at home 48-28, while Edinburgh defeated Castres Olympique in France, 34-21.
Top seeding for the knockout stage will be the target for the two teams, with home advantage on offer to the highest ranked sides from the pool stage.
The Pool A match kicks off at DAM Health Stadium at 5.30pm local time, and can be watched on BT Sport, beIN SPORTS, SuperSport and FloRugby.
#ThrowbackThursday to this rollercoaster from the opening round 🎢
Who'll come out on top and qualify this weekend? 🤜🤛
Full #HeinekenChampionsCup R1 highlights ➡️ https://t.co/97Qn4QTSfG pic.twitter.com/4s8qOYcba8
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) January 19, 2023
Edinburgh Rugby head coach Mike Blair: “It is a good achievement so far, as there are so many teams in there with quality.
“To get through with a round to spare is excellent, especially when you consider we were in a group with two teams that were in the final of their domestic competitions last year. We are pleased we won [against Castres], but we want to stretch ourselves. We want to win at home.”
Saracens prop Marco Riccioni: “They were very physical last time. We have to bring that physicality back on. I think we’ve shown we can be more physical than anyone. We have to get into this mentality.”
- Viliame Mata crossed the gainline 12 times against Castres Olympique – more than any other player in Round 3.
- Edinburgh are one of just three sides who are yet to lose a scrum on their own feed (along with Gloucester Rugby and Montpellier Herault Rugby).
- Edinburgh have made the joint-most interceptions in the competition (four, level with Racing 92).
- Edinburgh have made the most dominant carry contacts (113), a tournament high 11 per cent of their carries.
- Elliot Daly was the only player to score three tries in Round 3 – his first hat-trick for Saracens. Both Daly and Alex Goode kicked 50/22s in Round 3.
- No other team kicked as many as two. Ben Earl has made the joint-most dominant tackle contacts in the competition (six). 43 per cent of his tackles have been low (aimed below the waist).
- Billy Vunipola has made more passes than any other forward (29).
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Edinburgh Rugby held on for a 20-14 victory over Saracens in a gripping Heineken Champions Cup Round 4 contest at the DAM Health Stadium on Sunday, but their opponents secured home advantage in the Round of 16 thanks to their losing bonus point.
Both sides had the chance to book a home Round of 16 tie ahead of kick off, but it was Saracens who clinched the last all-important top-four place in Pool A thanks to finishing the game within seven points.
Edinburgh now face a trip to Leicester Tigers in the Round of 16 in just over two months’ time, while Saracens will host Ospreys.
YOUR ROUND OF 16 MATCH UPS 📢
Best tie? 👀#HeinekenChampionsCup pic.twitter.com/uUzz7f83LT
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) January 22, 2023
David Cherry and Pierre Schoeman both crossed for Edinburgh, with Blair Kinghorn putting up 10 points from the tee.
Saracens’ solitary score came courtesy of Ben Earl while Alex Goode kicked three penalties. The visitors were hampered by ill-discipline, receiving three yellow cards over the course of the evening.
Edinburgh made a fast start and hooker Cherry crashed over on three minutes to give them a deserved lead.
Fly-half Kinghorn converted before nudging three-pointer moments later, though Saracens counterpart Goode got the visitors on the board following a scrum penalty on 16 minutes.
Saracens then saw hooker Jamie George and prop Marco Riccioni yellow-carded in quick succession, but despite being down to 13 men, they remarkably survived wave after wave of Edinburgh attacks.
After George returned, Saracens escaped their own 22 and another scrum penalty allowed Goode to reduce the deficit further.
Saracens ended the half back at their full complement, and although Edinburgh were on the front foot once again, they couldn’t notch any further points and took a 10-6 lead into the break.
Is there anything @BenEarlba can’t do?
Gas from the @saracens 7️⃣ out wide to collect Eroni Mawi’s pass and race over in the corner 🏉#HeinekenChampionsCup pic.twitter.com/fH1dytzwkH
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) January 22, 2023
Kinghorn and Goode exchanged penalties early in the second half, and as the tempo of the game went up a notch, Saracens received their third yellow card, lock Maro Itjoe heading off on 59 minutes for a cynical offside.
Edinburgh capitalised on their extra man immediately this time, prop Schoeman burrowing over amid a rolling maul. Kinghorn converted but couldn’t extend his side’s lead moments later as his penalty held up in the wind and dropped short.
It was then Edinburgh who were down to 14 men as lock Sam Skinner was sin-binned for illegally bringing down a Saracens maul.
Edinburgh survived the immediate assault on their line, but a flowing Saracens move eventually put flanker Earl over in the corner.
Goode couldn’t add the extras but, crucially, Saracens would be close enough to take a losing bonus point and clinch fourth in Pool A, ahead of Edinburgh only on tries scored.
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