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PREVIEW: Racing pack worries Saracens

Wednesday 1st April 2015

12:00 am (GMT)

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Un parcours remarquable en phase de poule a offert au club francilien le premier quart de finale de son histoire à domicile. Et une première demie? Réponse dimanche en fin d'après-midi à l'issue du choc face aux Saracens. - 01/04/2015 16:21

Un parcours remarquable en phase de poule a offert au club francilien le premier quart de finale de son histoire à domicile. Et une première demie? Réponse dimanche en fin d'après-midi à l'issue du choc face aux Saracens. - 01/04/2015 16:21

Top seeds Racing Metro ’92 against in-form Saracens promises to be a thrilling encounter with both sides full of confidence ahead of their Champions Cup quarter-final clash.

The French side were the only unbeaten club in the pool stages, coming out of their group with Northampton Saints, the Ospreys and Benetton Treviso with 24 points thanks to five wins and just one draw.

It will make them marginal favourites for a place in the semi-finals but they won’t be underestimating the visitors, despite Saracens only scraping through qualification.

Saracens went through to the knock-out stages with the lowest amount of points (17) of any qualifying side from their pool of ASM Clermont Auvergne, Munster Rugby and Sale Sharks after two defeats and four wins. But those stats don’t tell the story of Saracens' recent excellent form, which has seen them move into second place in the Aviva Premiership behind runaway leaders Northampton Saints.

Mark McCall’s side have won their last five games in a row, and eight of their last 10 in all competitions, including a superb bonus-point victory over Harlequins in front of a world record 84,068 club rugby crowd at Wembley Stadium last weekend.

“We are in very good spirits at the moment,” said McCall. “To have won our last five in a row is very pleasing. We have watched Racing a lot over the last week, especially their win at Franklin’s Gardens, and they were very good that day.

“They have got superb half backs and a big forward pack, but we have been buoyed by our recent results.”

Saracens will have to stop Racing on their best-ever run in Europe, having won their last three in a row, but they can take heart from their recent results against the Paris club.They have won only two of their last eight games on French soil, but both of those victories came against Racing, the last being a 37-28 victory in January, 2013.

Racing were the only unbeaten team in the pool stages and they have qualified for the last eight for the first time. History, however, will remind them that no team has won the European Cup with an unbeaten record since the pool stages went to home and a way fixtures.

Match Facts

  • Saracens have won just two of their last eight games away in France, however both wins came against Racing Metro 92.
  • Racing Metro have won their last three games in the competition, representing their best ever run in the tournament; the Parisians are also unbeaten in all six games in the Champions Cup this season (W5 D1).
  • Metro have lost four of their five home games against English opposition, however their one win came this season against Northampton.
  • Overall, Racing have won four and lost six against English opponents, but won their last two by an aggregate margin of 33 points.
  • Dimitri Szarzewski has made 35/36 line-out throws this season and his 97% success rate is the best of any player to attempt more than 20 throws.
  • Racing Metro have beaten 157 defenders in the tournament this season; no club has beaten more.
  • Racing are making their first appearance in the knock-out stages of the competition.
  • Saracens have won three of four previous quarter-finals, including one away win.
  • This is the English side’s third consecutive appearance at this stage of the tournament.
  • Saracens have lost three of four knock-out ties against French opponents.


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REPORT: Bosch boots Saracens into semi-finals

Sunday 5th April 2015

12:00 am (GMT)

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Revivez les meilleurs moments des quarts de finale de l'European Rugby Champions Cup

Revivez les meilleurs moments des quarts de finale de l'European Rugby Champions Cup

Marcelo Bosch was the toast of Saracens as he kept his cool in the heat of Stade Yves Du Manoir to land a long range penalty goal with the last action of a nip and tuck contest that never hit any real heights but was gripping stuff.

His superb strike was good enough to earn Saracens 12-11 victory over Racing Metro 92, a third semi-final appearance in as many seasons and a last four showdown with ASM Clermont Auvergne in St Etienne.
They will collide at Stade Geoffroy-Guichard for a place in the final but Racing will be kicking themselves for not making the game safe after Heineken man-of-the-match Maxine Machenaud had edged them back in front with just minutes left on the clock.
They failed to keep Saracens out of goal kicking range and Bosch punished them to ensure there will be English interest in the last four.
Racing, with five wins and a draw from their Pool 5 contests, were appearing in their first tournament knock-out match and will see this as a chance lost to really make their mark in Europe.
For Saracens it was a tribute to their never-say-die attitude and their pack demonstrated they were well and truly up for the challenge by all but destroying the Racing scrum.
And outside half Charlie Hodgson complimented their efforts by nailing the fifth minute penalty goal.
That briefly silenced the vociferous home crowd but that was soon replaced by a barrage of whistles as Welsh referee Nigel Owens penalised Racing three times in as many minutes.
Welsh centre star Jamie Roberts produced one of his trademark Route One surges but unforced errors meant Racing were unable to build any sustained momentum.
One of those errors came as they lost possession at the critical moment after a tremendous forward drive had Saracens in rapid reverse gear, TMO Derek Bevan making the key decision to more howls of disapproval.
But there was woe for Saracens when Jim Hamilton was yellow carded by referee Owens for his infringement at a ruck on the visitors’ line and Racing promptly took advantage of being a man to the good from the line-out.
The forwards drove it on and livewire scrum half Maxime Machenaud took control to drive over for the opening try. Jonny Sexton’s conversion attempt bounced back off the upright but Racing were ahead for the first time after a tight opening half hour.
Superb play by Brice Dulin – backed up by Roberts – had Sarries on the back foot but a second Hodgson penalty goal success on the stroke of the break edged them back in front by a single point with the contest finely balanced.
Racing had had the better of both possession and territory but Saracens’ refusal to give an inch had served them superbly.
With Hodgson requiring some lengthy treatment Alex Goode took over kicking duties and his penalty success early in the second half pushed them four points clear.
Sexton made a hash of the restart, kicking it far to long, and restlessness in the stands could only work to Saracens’ advantage.
Dulin was again the inspiration for Racing, although his scintillating break came to nothing when Juan Imhoff lost the ball with the line beckoning.
Racing stole Saracens’ scrum ball but yet another home team infringement enabled Saracens to lift the siege.
Imhoff departed after Sexton’s knee came into contact with his team-mates head – both side sending on rafts of replacements going into the final quarter of a punishing contest.
Machenaud proved equally as effective with the boot as he had with the hand, firing over a penalty that cut the deficit to just a point, as Saracens found themselves under hammer.
Goode took the pressure off with a fine side-stepping run but Racing took the lead for the second time with Machenaud landing his second penalty to belatedly get the crowd involved again.
But the drama went right into overtime, Racing penalised and Bosch keeping his nerve to fire over a long range penalty that brought delight to the small band of travelling support and despair to home fans.

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