Rugby Union: Saracens face crunch European Champions Cup game at home to Northampton Saints

PUBLISHED: 17:30 19 January 2018

Liam Williams scored two tries for Saracens when they visited Northampton Saints in the European Champions Cup in October (pic: Nigel French/PA)

Liam Williams scored two tries for Saracens when they visited Northampton Saints in the European Champions Cup in October (pic: Nigel French/PA)

PA Wire/PA Images

Sarries know a win is a must on Saturday if they are to progress to quarter-finals

Billy Vunipola of Saracens has fractured his arm and faces another spell on the sidelines (pic: Mark Kerton/PA) Billy Vunipola of Saracens has fractured his arm and faces another spell on the sidelines (pic: Mark Kerton/PA)

Two-time defending European Champions Cup champions Saracens know even a win at home to Northampton Saints on Saturday might not be enough to remain in this season’s competition.

Ahead of the final round of matches, the north Londoners sit third in Pool Two, behind leaders Clermont Auvergne and Welsh side Ospreys.

The winners of each of the five pools will qualify for the quarter-finals, as will the three best runners-up.

There are a number of permutations that would see Saracens progress, but they all rely on the Allianz Park club beating Saints and results in other groups going their way.

Scoring four tries in a win over Northampton would certainly give Sarries the best chance of making it through, and director of rugby Mark McCall says that is how they must approach the game.

“We’ll try to play better than we did on Saturday (Saracens drew 15-15 at Ospreys),” McCall told the club website.

“It’s important we give ourselves a shot by winning next weekend, and then whatever happens in other groups happens.”

Saracens will be without number eight Billy Vunipola for the crunch clash at home to Saints after he fractured his arm at Ospreys.

The England international had only just returned from four-and-a-half months out with a knee injury, but is now back on the sidelines.

Sarries also lost Michael Rhodes and Jackson Wray to hamstring injuries on their trip to the Liberty Stadium, something which McCall admits was far from ideal.

“We had quite a lot to contend with and our starting back row was gone by half time,” he added.

“It was a lot for us to have to deal with, but ultimately it came down to how we scrummed on Saturday and it just wasn’t good enough.”

Saracens have already played Saints twice this season, in league and European rugby, winning both games comfortably.

The north Londoners waltzed to a 55-24 victory over Northampton at Twickenham on the opening day of this year’s Aviva Premiership, while they won 57-13 at Franklin’s Gardens in the Champions Cup in October.

Another big success this weekend would give Saracens the best chance of progressing to the knockout stages in European rugby.


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Hampstead Highgate Express visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Hampstead Highgate Express staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Hampstead Highgate Express account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest Hampstead & Highgate Sports News


Paul Stirling defied a thigh injury which forced him to bat with a runner to score his second century in less than a week as Middlesex beat Sussex by 74 runs at Hove in the Royal London One-Day Cup.


Jamie George insists the spotlight is thrust upon Exeter as Saracens look to summon all their big-game experience for Saturday’s Aviva Premiership final.


Sarries legend to retire from professional game following Saturday’s play-off final


Hong Kong international has signed as overseas player for Harman Drive outfit this term

The full-back praised club boss Mauricio Pochettino and spoke about the memories he has from the 2014 World Cup

After chasing down 333 to defeat local rivals North Middlesex last weekend, Muz Ali’s team will eye more success on Saturday


There are plenty of sporting events going on across Lee Valley Regional Park to keep youngsters in London busy during half-term.

Yesterday, 17:00

The goalkeeper called time on her career after Sunday’s 1-1 draw with London Bees and hailed the support of her team and the fans


Wembley Sailing Club is hosting a Push the Boat Out event on Sunday May 20, where those interested in taking up the sport are invited to experience the club in action.

Preparing your child in advance for school will go a long way towards ensuring the very best start for your child.

After over 50 years in the acting industry, and a decade of unprecedented success delivering outstanding part-time performing arts tuition at her weekend Academies across the country, Pauline Quirke returns to her roots to create even more opportunities for young performers in North London.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most read Hampstead & Highgate sport

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now