Munster Vs Saracens
Munster go into this Semi Final with memories of the 2017 Semi when Saracens were extremely clinical in dispatching Munster although it was only 10-6 at half time in that game. Munster will most likely not have the services of Joey Carbery who suffered a hamstring injury in the quarter final win over Edinburgh 3 weeks ago. This is a blow but the return to form of Tyler Bleyendaal along with the recent good form of JJ Hanrahan means Munster will Munster may not have the first choice twn at their disposal but these two men have played well since Carbery went off injured in that quarter final.
The time for talking is almost over and another Semi Final appearance awaits the Munster squad. The faithful will travel in large numbers to the Ricoh Arena this weekend to the scene of the last time Munster won a European Semi Final in 2008 against an Alan Gaffney coached Saracens team. Yes both teams have transformed massively since that game and Munster have lost a number of Semi Finals since that day only winning two trophies, the Magners League in 2009 and 2011.
Europe has also seen consistency in reaching the latter stages but with no trophy since 2011, it is time this Munster squad reached the levels of previous sides by firstly making another final and then winning a trophy. Saracens will be favourites to get to another European show piece to play either Leinster or Toulouse in St James Park in May.
For Johan Van Graan it is a second Semi Final since he took over in late 2017. He will need all his powers of positive thinking and some good fortune to get past a well drilled Saracens side. Yes they were beaten late on this weekend by Bristol but they like Munster will be a full throttle for this game and it will be interesting to see have Munster learned from the past 2 Semi Finals where a fast solid start in required. Last year this was not achieved and after 20 minutes Racing 92 were out of sight. Those lessons need to learned.
Munster won’t want to be looking at another loss in the semi final column and for that to happen they need to play like there is not tomorrow because they have been here too often and left with the wrong result. The heart says Munster will win but the head says Saracens will just have too much for Munster over 80 minutes. I hope I am proven wrong but the smart money will be on Saracens to make yet another European Final. Saracens by 3 or more…
Leinster Vs Toulose
It will be Leinster Vs Toulouse mark 3, with both teams on a win a piece at this point. Toulouse have found there mojo again under Ugo Mola. They are back boned by academy graduates like Romain Etamack and Thomas Ramos with men like Richie Gray, Anton Dupont being brought in to add a physical edge to the old attack minded Toulouse side that won multiple trophies in the 90s and 2000s.
Leinster will go into this game off the back of two poor displays in the Pro 14 where they were defeated but having not played up to scratch in the quarter final either and Leo Cullen has already said that they should have Jonathan Sexton back in harness and that will help to get the stuttering attack back on track even though they still managed to score 4 tries against Glasgow at the weekend.
Toulouse will look to the win away from home for inspiration in trying to beat the defending champions on home soil. They were touched off back in January in the RDS and will know they will need to be squeaky clean in all departments to stand any chance of beating a side that won’t want to lose grip on the crown they worked so hard to win in May 2018.
Like the first semi final , this will be a tight contest and I feel that there will only be a score either way but Leinster should make another Final with home advantage helping to see them over the line….. So I feel it will be a Saracens Vs Leinster in St James Park in May…….