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In arguably the match of the weekend, 2019 winners Saracens will take on Munster Rugby with both sides desperate for a win to remain in the hunt for a Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final berth.
The two Pool 4 sides met last week with the Irish province coming out on top 10-3 and now sit just one point behind Racing 92 with three fixtures left to play.
Key quote: Johann van Graan (Munster): “We are playing against the very best team in Europe currently. They’ve got so much quality within their squad and what they do.
“I think both teams couldn’t really show everything they had on the weekend, because you only had 40 minutes to do what you wanted with ball in hand, just because of the conditions in the second half.”
- Munster have failed to score more than 18 points in all of their last eight Heineken Champions Cup matches against Saracens (W4, L4). The 10-3 win in Round 3 was the lowest scoring pool stage game involving an Irish province since Leinster beat Bordeaux 9-3 in the 1998/99 season.
- Saracens have only been defeated on two occasions in both Round 3 and 4 matches in the Heineken Champions Cup, losing to Clermont in 2017/18 and to the Cardiff Blues in 2000/01.
- Munster are unbeaten in their last three away Heineken Champions Cup games against Gallagher Premiership opposition (W2, D1, excluding neutral semi-final venues), and they’ve never played four such games without a defeat.
- Saracens have lost 11 of their own 39 line outs in the Heineken Champions Cup this season and have the lowest success rate (72%) in the competition.
- Munster are one of just four sides yet to lose a scrum on their own put-in.
- Munster have made the most carries (473) and are one of just two sides to have had more than an hour of possession overall (1h 5m, Toulouse 1hr 4m).
- Munster’s tackle success rate of 90% is the best this season, and they are the only side to have missed fewer than 50 tackles in total (40).
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Saracens defeated Munster Rugby 15-6 on Saturday afternoon in Heineken Champions Cup Pool 4 to give their hopes of defending their crown a much-needed boost.
Tries from Mako Vunipola and Sean Maitland were enough to give the 2019 winners a key victory in what was a bruising contest throughout at Allianz Park
The defending champions had all the territory and possession in the opening 10 minutes and they took advantage as Owen Farrell popped over a three-pointer to give the defending champions the early lead.
It took 17 minutes for the next points and they came to the visitors as Munster piled pressure on the Saracens line but to their credit, they would not let Munster over and held them up. However, the Irish province possessed penalty advantage and opted for the three points as JJ Hanrahan popped over the equalising kick.
Farrell had the chance to put Saracens ahead with a fairly straightforward penalty kick on 32 minutes but he pushed it just wide of the posts as the half ended all-square.
Breakthrough Saracens! 👊
The hosts clinch the first try of the afternoon thanks to Sean Maitland!
All made by a gorgeous @bvunipola offload 🙌#HeinekenChampionsCup pic.twitter.com/fjhH01WSUt
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) December 14, 2019
Three minutes into the second period, Ben Earl gave away a penalty on Keith Earls and that allowed JJ Hanrahan to sweep over a second penalty kick and give the visitors the lead.
But as Munster look the lead, Saracens clicked into gear and got their reward with less than 15 minutes to play.
Saracens put the Munster scrum under pressure and Billy Vunipola took advantage by picking up and playing a lovely offload to Sean Maitland who dived over in the corner for a vital try, although Farrell couldn’t add the extras.
Five minutes later, the defending champions secured the win after some lovely interchanging passes got Saracens into the Munster 22.
From there, Saracens unleashed a string of powerful phases and at the posts, it was Mako Vunipola who was able to burrow a way over to secure a crucial Pool 4 win.
In Round 5, Saracens travel to face Ospreys while Munster Rugby will fly to Paris to take on Pool 4 leaders Racing 92.
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