Munster play Saracens this Saturday in the Champions Cup semi final in the Aviva in what promises to be a hugely physical and enjoyable spectacle. Ahead of the game we look at some of the key facts in relation to both sets of squads.
Date: Saturday 22 nd April
Kick-off: 3.15, Aviva Stadium
Referee: Romain Poite (France)
Assistant Referee 1: Pascal Gauzere (France)
Assistant Referee 2: Alexandre Ruiz (France)
TMO: Philippe Bonhoure (Francee)
TV: BT Sport / beIN Sports
Munster will be appearing in their 12th European Cup Semi Final, this is a competition record. The last time Munster reached this stage was in 2014 where they were beaten by Clermont. This is Saracens 6th Semi final appearance, their 5th time reaching this stage in a row and 6th time overall.
Munster will be competing in their 158th game in the competition this Saturday- This is also a tournament record, overtaking Toulouse whom they beat in the previous round who have played 157 games.
These sides have met eight times in the competition previously with Munster taking the spoils 5 times compared to Saracens two. Yet Saracens have had the edge in recent times, with their two victories coming in the last two meetings against the Irish Province.
These sides have met at this stage once before in 2008. Munster would overcome a stiff Saracens challenge 18-16, before defeating Toulouse 16-13 in a Heineken Cup classic in the Millennium Stadium.
If Saracens avoid defeat on Saturday they will equal Leinster’s record of 17 games undefeated in the tournament which was achieved between 2010 and 2012. Saracens have won 15 of their last 16 games and recorded one draw in that time.
Munster are on their longest winning streak since 2013/14 when they won six in a row to reach the semi finals as mentioned previously. Munster are currently on a four game winning streak and have won 6 of their 7 games this term, their only reversal coming away to Leicester Tigers.
These teams have the best defences in the competition thus far with Saracens conceding only 8 tries with Munster allowing a meagre 5 tries. Both sides are yet to concede a first half try also.
Munster’s CJ Stander is the Champions Cup leading ball carrier so far with 114 carries in the competition. The nearest challenger to the Lion has not yet carried 100 times.
Chris Ashton is currently ties with Vincent Clerc as the all time top try scorer in European Cup history with 36. He will become outright leader should he touch down against Munster.
The two out-halves, Owen Farrell and Tylor Bleyendaal are the tournaments leading scorers. The Saracens man leads the way with 97 and was also the competitions leading scorer last year with 127. Bleyendaal isn’t far behind and is currently on 94 points. No other player has reached 80 points so far.
Saracens will have 6 players represent the Lions this summer with Jamie George, Mako Vunipola, Maro Itoje, George Kruis, Billy Vinupola and Owen Farrell all named in Warran Gatland’s 41-man squad. Munster had three players name by Gatland, they are Limerick’s Conor Murray, Peter O’Mahony and CJ Stander.