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European Champions Cup Semi-Final Preview: Saracens v Wasps

It will be an All Aviva Premiership Rugby clash at the Madejski Stadium on Saturday and Ashley Johnson and Wasps know exactly what to expect from Saracens in their pivotal semi-final.

First in Aviva Premiership Rugby meets second in their European Champions Cup clash and they have already met twice in the league.

Sarries made off with an impressive win from the Ricoh just after Christmas but Wasps ran riot at the Allianz in the new year.

Wasps will contest their first semi-final since 2007 and their third overall, having gone on to lift the trophy on both occasions that they have reached this stage previously.

And Johnson admits familiarity will breed contempt on the weekend.

“We know a lot about Saracens having had some big battles with them over the past few years,” he said.

“Of course they have grown as a team but what they do is pretty straight forward, we know what to expect.

“We are not getting carried away with that result at Allianz Park in the same way that they will not be after beating us at the Ricoh.

“Of course a performance like that at Allianz means we can take a lot of confidence.

“The set-piece is going to be vital but especially against a team like Saracens.

“The line out is going to be very important, they have two quality second rows in George and Maro so it is going to be a real challenge.

“But when you get to a semi-final you know that every team is quality, it is going to be a massive challenge.”

Owen Farrell of Saracens is currently the tournament’s top scorer with 92 points, and the fly-half has been impressed by Wasps this year.  

“They’ve been very good” he said. “They’ve got some outstanding players, not just the guys we’ve played with England but some of the players that have come in this year as well.

"They’ve got threats all over the field and that shows when they play we’ve got to make sure that we’re on it this week and we’re in the game for the full 80 minutes.”

This clash will be the 20th knockout game for Saracens in the past six seasons and their third European semi-final in the past four.

“There has been a huge evolution in our European fixtures,” added Brad Barritt. 

“It has gone from qualifying to getting through the pool stages to quarter-finals to semi-finals to a final and, again, to a semi last year.

“We have definitely spoken about this season being our time. We have paid our dues, we have learnt our lessons. 

“By no means is it going to win you the game but we feel those experiences over the past four seasons are going to stand us in great stead in these big fixtures.

“There’s that sense and an understanding that we know what we are about. We know we can dig ourselves out of tight situations. The big learning curve throughout our European campaign is that you need to find ways to win. Often it is a different way to what you expect."
 

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