Thursday 19 October 2017

Munster v Saracens: What time is kick-off, what TV channel is it on - Everything you need to know

Peter O’Mahony during a press conference at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Peter O’Mahony during a press conference at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Munster will try to get to the final of the Champions Cup for the first time since 2008. Saracens will be looking to defend their title. Here's everything you need to know about this afternoon's Champions Cup semi-final.

 

When and where is the game?

All eyes will be on the Aviva Stadium today because of what's at stake. Saracens will be looking to keep their back-to-back hopes alive and join Leinster, Toulon and the Leicester Tigers as the only sides in European Cup history to repeat as champions, while Munster will look to reach the final for the first time since 2008, nearly a decade after former Head Coach Anthony Foley lifted the Heineken Cup in Cardiff.

What time is kick-off?

This will be the weekend's first semi-final with kick-off scheduled for 3.15pm.

What TV channel is it on?

The game will be broadcast live on BT Sport 3 with coverage starting at 2.30pm. If you can't watch the game on television, then you may be able to listen to it on RTE Radio 1 who will be providing live commentary and build-up. Highlights of the game will also be shown on TG4 from 9.50pm.

What is the team news?

Munster

Conor Murray continues to sit out with a nerve issue with Duncan Williams set to partner Tyler Bleyendaal once again in the halves.

Number eight CJ Stander has overcome an ankle injury he suffered  against Toulouse in the quarter-final stage and will partner Peter O'Mahony and Tommy O'Donnell in the backrow, with Dave O'Callaghan and Jean Deysel providing cover from the bench.

Centre Jaco Taute will rejoin Rory Scannell in the Munster midfield, who has been deemed fit to play after a knock to his ankle last weekend, with Francis Sailli set to drop to the bench, while utility back Andrew Conway will also rejoin the starting XV in a direct swap for Darren Sweetnam.

Munster:  Simon Zebo; Andrew Conway, Jaco Taute, Rory Scannell, Keith Earls; Tyler Bleyendaal, Duncan Williams; Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell, John Ryan; Donnacha Ryan, Billy Holland; Peter O’Mahony (Capt.), Tommy O’Donnell, CJ Stander.

Replacements:  Rhys Marshall, James Cronin, Stephen Archer, Dave O’Callaghan, Jean Deysel, Ian Keatley, Francis Saili, Darren Sweetnam.

Saracens

Saracens have an unbelievably impressive haul of six Lions in their starting XV, including five in their forward pack. In the front-row England prop Mako Vunipola will line up alongside fellow Lion Jamie George and Vincent Koch, while joining them in the tight five will be lock Maro Itoje who returns after being rested during last weekend's win over Northampton.

Fellow England internationals Owen Farrell, Billy Vunipola and Chris Ashton also rejoin the Sarries starting XV with former Springboks captain Schalk Burger dropping to the bench in place of flanker Michael Rhodes.

Saracens: Alex Goode, Chris Ashton, Marcelo Bosch, Brad Barritt (c), Sean Maitland, Owen Farrell, Richard Wigglesworth; Mako Vunipola, Jamie George, Vincent Koch, Maro Itoje, George Kruis, Michael Rhodes, Jackson Wray, Billy Vunipola.

Replacements: Schalk Brits, Titi Lamositele, Petrus Du Plessis, Jim Hamilton, Schalk Burger, Ben Spencer, Alex Lozowski, Chris Wyles.

Three key stats

1. Saracens have not lost a game in the Champions Cup since the 2014-15 season.

2. Munster have conceded the fewest points in this season's tournament with a competition best 80 points against.

3. Munster have won 14 of their last 15 games with their only loss at home to the Scarlets in a nine point defeat nearly two months ago.

What are they saying?

Munster Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus: "The last game we played here, where Anthony was in charge of the team, he was the head coach, it was the last time we were in that changing room, he was with us in the changing room and then the next week he passed away.

"I just think he would be really proud, because the guys carry him in our hearts every day. We talk about him, he's part of our daily training and I think that would put a smile on his face and hopefully we can make him proud tomorrow."

Munster flanker Tommy O'Donnell: “They have it all.  They have a line-out operator as a 6. They have a groundhog, ball-carrying 7 and an incredibly talented ball carrying number 8.

"They are a quality side with a very balanced back-row, two very good second-rows and very, very mobile props and hooker.

“We’re definitely playing better than we were in 2015. We’ve more confidence in ourselves, we’ve more confidence in our defence and in our set-piece and that’s what you need, to be confident heading in against Saracens.”

Saracens Director of Rugby Mark McCall

“I think the players do know what’s coming and what they are walking into and I think they are looking forward to it to be honest.

“It is going to be difficult at times and we know there will be times in the match when we are under pressure and they’ve got all the momentum and we have got to show our experience in those moments, we’ve got to be resilient.

“We have got to understand we are not playing against super humans just because the crowd are noisy, we are just playing against a team and we’ve got to wrestle the initiative back.”

Saracens scrum-half Richard Wigglesworth

“We are different side who play a different way to England playing a Munster team who play differently to Ireland, so I wouldn’t get bogged down in thinking that the England game means anything to what we are about to do.

“I am not worrying about what other teams have done in the past. This is a Saracens team that I am hugely proud to be involved in and confident that win or lose we will have put it all on the line and we won’t be losing because of what other teams have done.”

What are the betting odds?

Munster 13/8

Draw 17/1

Saracens 4/7

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