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By Darraghgirl
October 18 2017

Wow! How to improve on that? After Sunday’s 8-try annihilation of Saints, Saracens welcome Ospreys to Allianz Park on Saturday Night. There has been a fair amount of grumbling about the late kick-off time from Saracens’ supporters (and I presume Osprey’s fans who have by far the worse end of the deal) but I rather enjoy an evening game under lights!

Ospreys took on Clermont at the Liberty Stadium last Sunday and although they lost, the welsh team put on a decent performance, outscoring their more illustrious visitors by 3 tries to 2, and coming away with a losing bonus point. It probably won’t be enough but in rugby, stranger things have happened. Sarries will need to bear in mind that Ospreys declined to lie down when they went in at halftime 7-20 down, and won the second half scoring 2 converted tries as opposed to Clermont’s 2 penalties.

Ospreys have a formidable squad which features 6 past and present British Lions (Rhys Webb -off to join Ashy in Toulon next season, Justin Tipuric, Dan Lydiate, Alun Wyn Jones, Dan Biggar & James Hook) no fewer than 23 Welsh internationals plus a Canadian, New Zealand, Samoan and Moldovan International. They also have infamous lion-tamer Scott Baldwin among their squad although presumably still hors de combat! Yet despite all this talent, Ospreys have had a very difficult start to the season. In 7 Guinness Pro-14 and European starts this season they have managed to beat only Zebre by a not particularly convincing 22-13 in the season’s opener. Since then they have lost to Munster and Scarlets at home (Scarlets by a single point) but perhaps of more concern, away to Glasgow, Treviso, and Cheetahs before last weekend’s defeat to Clermont. They sit at the bottom of Conference A with just 6 points to their name from 6 games. Perhaps more worrying, Ospreys have scored just 11 tries this season – Sarries have managed 33 – triple that of their opponents.

Saracen’s are the supreme Line-out team at the moment and this is an area where Ospreys have struggled in recent weeks despite the presence of Alun Wyn Jones. Ospreys have a powerful back row in Lydiate, Tipuric and Dan Baker and a tried and trusted half back pairing in Dan Biggar and Rhys Webb. They seem to be under-performing massively – always dangerous to approach an apparently sleeping lion (as Scott Baldwin will testify).

With regard to team selection, I wouldn’t expect much in the way of change from either team. Ospreys performance against Clermont gave cause for encouragement and I suspect, barring injury, we will see a very similar team on Saturday. Smith, Otten and Arhup are the likely front row (Arhup seeming to have displaced Ma’afu Fia as first choice tighthead). Captain Alun Wyn Jones will probably be partnered by Bradley Davies at lock – a total age of 62 (who will probably be up against George Kruis and Nick Isiekwe whose total age is just 46). In the back row we will probably see Tipuric and Lydiate joined by Dan Baker. Rhys Webb and Dan Biggar will almost certainly be the half-backs, Watkin and Fonotia in the centres, Cory Allen and Hassler on the wings and Dan Evans at fullback.

Saracens will I suspect, injuries permitting (or partners going into labour), field an unchanged team. It is difficult to improve on perfection and last Sunday was as near perfect as it gets. The real challenge will be maintaining those stellar heights. If Saracens get anywhere near last week’s performance they should win with another try bonus point – but we all know that Saturday is another day and there are no givens in this world. Let us hope that whatever they had for breakfast last week is still on the menu!

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18/10/2017 16:52
Sorry, couldn't resist the chance of a beautiful bird picture!

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 2017:10:29:13:27:49 by Darraghgirl.

The Bard (IP Logged)
19/10/2017 21:49
Thanks for the excellent preview. Very strong winds are forecast so the game could be a bit of a lottery. We' saw at Bath what can happen in the afterglow of a stellar performance, let's hope there will be no repeat. The ticket sales look very disappointing, it seems the west stand will be almost empty.

AlanE (IP Logged)
22/10/2017 15:30
Thanks DG. Well Scott Baldwin did play - as a sub. The only disappointment was that the announcer didn't herald his arrival with 'The Lion sleeps tonight.'

I was 17 miles from Graybridge before I was caught by the school leopard

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