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FOR WHOM THE BRIS TOLS
Saracens vs Bristol Rugby Saturday 29 April Allianz Park It would be easy to get a sense of anti-climax in the aftermath of another famous win as Saracens added to their "bucket list" of notable victories in Dublin, but the dilemma will be whether to go all out for a bonus point win with a full strength line up, or employ a modified side, which, with respect to the relegated visitors, could still do the job of taking a massive step to a home semi-final with a bonus point success, given that Wasps face difficult tasks at Harlequins and at home to Saracens.
MASSIVE WIN LANDED AT LANSDOWNE
A virtually impenetrable performance in defence provided the platform for a win which puts Saracens in the European final for a third successive season. In a tight first half, the visitors absorbed sustained pressure from Munster, and more of the same in the second half saw the "hosts" struggle to get over the gain line, whilst typically clinical finishing assured a comfortable Sarries win.
DOUBLE VIA DUBLIN
Munster vs Saracens European Rugby Champions Cup Semi Final Saturday 22 April Aviva Stadium Where to start with this one? Saracens in a fifth European semi-final in a row, matching Munster's run from 2000 to 2004, and a full house in Dublin (mainly) clamouring for a third title to add to those in 2006 and 2008.
THE LATE LATE SHOW
Who'd given up? Possibly one of the best late shows ever as Saracens seized a late chance for a dramatic victory to keep hopes of a home semi-final. But then, this side can win anywhere suggesting that keeping some of the "powder dry" ahead of next week was ultimately the right decision. A motivated Northampton side played with intensity in defence and craft in attack until they lost their way much as in Coventry last week.
STICK OR TWIST
Northampton Saints vs Saracens Aviva Premiership Rugby Easter Sunday 16 April stadium:mk Saracens head north on Sunday with an eighth successive semi-final in the bag, but still needing work to push into the top two to claim a top two semi-final, whilst it's even more important for the Saints for whom this probably reflects the last chance to make the top four, or at the very least nail down a Champions Cup spot for next season in a relatively underwhelming campaign.
ALL RHODES LEAD TO WEMBLEY
According to Saracens official website, the team play at Wembley: “because it’s a good day for the fans and it’s a great place to play”. I can’t speak for the latter but I didn’t come across any Sarries fans who wouldn’t rather have been at Allianz today, especially after the atmosphere of last week. It may have been our home game but Quins are far more used to playing on grass these days!
SARACENS UPWEMBLEY WAY
Saracens vs Harlequins Aviva Premiership Rugby Saturday 8 April Wembley Stadium Right .. let's get the bad pun out the way to start with. Sarries against Quins is on the same day as Bath's relocated game at Twickenham against Leicester Tigers - would have gone to both if they didn't ... er .... clash. Oddly in Burnt Oak Broadway there was a poster for the Bath game but nothing for Saracens who never seem to have marketed much in Edgware except for the Saracens logo added to the Barnet Borough sign in 2013.
Sarries March On To Dublin
Saracens 38-15 Glasgow Warriors. The European Rugby Champions Cup Semi Final. Sunday 2 April Allianz Park. Saracens set up a Champions Cup Semi Final against Munster in Dublin in three weekends' time as a controlled performance in defence and attack delivered a comprehensive win against the Pro12 side, whose strong attacking game only flourished fleetingly.
ENGLAND v SCOTLAND: Part 2
Saracens vs Glasgow Warriors European Rugby Champions Cup Quarter Final Sunday 2 April, Allianz Park The favourites versus the outsiders. Or at least according to the bookies. But what it certainly is is a clash between one of the most assured knockout sides in European rugby against a side featuring at this stage for the first time, after intermittently threatening to do so in recent seasons. However, as Saracens will appreciate, having evolved from a side not even in top flight European competition to dominating it, Glasgow's wish to progress from their 2015 Pro12 title win and make history in this tournament assures they will be dangerous opponents. With Scotstoun also an artificial surface, NW4 will hold no surprises.
TAKE A BATH
On my way home this evening, two thoughts rather intruded as I wondered how to approach this match report:- As Wayne Barnes was recently criticised for letting a match run 20 minutes over the 80, into 100 minutes, should he have averaged out his season by stopping this one after 60, to save Bath from further punishment, as we used to say in amateur boxing?