7 Jun, 15:39
ERC can confirm that the Federation Française de Rugby (FFR) has withdrawn its application to host the 2014 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals, due to the ongoing uncertainty regarding the availability of the Stade de France.
Up against the Heineken Cup 'know-it-alls' in Munster, who every year seem to time their charge and form to perfection and overturn the very best sides, Saracens will look to couple the muscular, physical battering they gave the Osprey's up front, with a cleverness and skill through the backs that was enough to see them through.
Richard Hill, for who this is almost certainly a swan song season, will be key in doing the 'dark arts' well and, as he has done throughout his career, the England World Cup winner will continue making tackle after tackle to keep Saracens moving forward. It was Hill's man of the match performance that inspired Saracens to this semi final and his desire to go out on a Heineken Cup high will ensure that every last ounce of sweat will be left on the field in pursuit of another famous victory and a shot at glory in Cardiff.
Lining up alongside Hill will be the unsung Kevin Sorrell at outside centre, half as well known but just as important for Saracens chances. The 30-year-old has been at Saracens for years, knows the club inside out and has been in inspirational form throughout this Heineken Cup campaign. On Sunday, Saracens will rely on his unquestioning thirst to put his body on the line, an ability to use his brain in tight pressure situations, as well as a defensive commitment that will be required to stop the marauding Munster three-quarters, Tipoki, Mafi and Howlett.
Saracens will be up against a Munster side in the mood to repeat their victorious trip to Cardiff in the 2006 final. With the experienced Irish contingent burning bright at the heart of the side in Quinlan, Leamy and Wallace coupled with the back row of O'Connell and O'Callaghan, there won't be many who aren't familiar with this semi final stage. And with the Southern Hemisphere class out wide sure to provide the requisite firepower, it could be a long afternoon at the Ricoh Arena for Saracens defensive line.
However, Alan Gaffney's side thrived on their underdog status against the Ospreys and prevailed, and the unpredictability of this competition means it could happen again. Hold on to your hats, it's sure to be a belter.