Number one seeds Saracens have a home tie against number eight seeds Ospreys in the 12.30 Sunday match of the quarter finals at Vicarage Road.

But after the Ospreys thrashed Saracens 30-3 in the recent EDF Energy Cup semi-final in Cardiff, that ranking counts for little other than to spur Saracens for revenge.

Saracens earned their top seed status by winning Pool 4 with a 5-1 win-loss record. They completed doubles over Glasgow and Viadana and were only denied a clean sweep when they lost by a single point to Biarritz in Round 2.

Alan Gaffney has helped to make Saracens genuine Heineken contenders for the first time in their history. Not once in their three previous attempts had they managed to progress from the Pool stage.

Lyn Jones’ Ospreys are also in unchartered territory. Never before have they left qualified from their Pool since regionalisation in 2003.

The Magners League champions have already reached one final this seasons but coach Jones has targeted the Heineken Cup as the competition he really wants to win.

Coach Jones has assembled a side laden with international talent capable of carrying off a unique cup double this season.  The bulk of Wales’ Grand Slam winning side play their rugby at the Liberty Stadium.

Add to that the devastating Kiwi trio of Justin Marshall, Filo Tiatia and Marty Holah, a that provides real muscle in the heart of the side.

The Welsh region finished the Pool stage with a 5-1 win-loss record but their defeat to Gloucester meant they were behind the West country side in the final Pool table, meaning they qualified as second best runner up and a date with Saracens.

 Jones commented   “Sunday’s game is sure to be a cracker, with two good sides fully aware of what is at stake – a Heineken Cup semi-final. It’s always a strange situation when you face a side twice in such short succession, but it’s fair to say that we won’t be taking anything for granted despite the manner of our victory at the Millennium Stadium two weeks.

“Our supporters played a huge part that day and it is even more important they get behind the boys at Vicarage Road right from the start. Back to back matches can be completely different affairs as our own experiences against Ulster in this tournament in December show. We recorded a comfortable win here at the Liberty Stadium, but it was a much tighter affair at Ravenhill the following week. 

“We’re disappointed to lose Nikki, and we wish him a speedy recovery, but in his place we have an able deputy in Johnny Vaughton, who is also, like Shane, at the top of his game, showing up well during the EDF Energy Cup Semi-Final, and will I’m sure do so again on Sunday. Aled Brew has flown back from Australia, where he has been on sevens duty with Wales, and he too is chomping at the bit to get involved should he be required.”