History on Saracens' side ahead of Premiership play-offs

 

Saracens will face one of the toughest tasks in English rugby tomorrow - but recent history suggests it is not one they should fear.

The reigning Aviva Premiership champions head to Welford Road for a play-off showdown with Leicester.

Saracens beat the Tigers in last season's Twickenham final, and they have also won on three successive Welford Road visits, which represents the best sequence by any away team on Leicester soil since Harlequins completed five victories 34 years ago.

Leicester leaked 50 points and six tries at home against Saracens earlier this season, although comparisons now mean little as it came during the World Cup period when many clubs were under strength.

"It will be tough, and close," Tigers rugby director Richard Cockerill said. "They generally are, apart from when we played at the start of the season.

"They have got a good record here. In fact, I can't remember the last time they lost.

"We will have to be right on it, especially after they put 40 points on Exeter last weekend."

For their part, Leicester are unbeaten at Welford Road since October 8 when Quins toppled them, while they are also looking to book an eighth successive play-off final appearance.

Quins or Northampton will await the winners at Twickenham on May 26, with the regular league season's first and fourth-placed finishers facing each other tomorrow.

Quins finished top of the pile, and they will defend the Premiership's best home record this season - nine wins and two defeats - against a Saints side in its third successive play-off semi-final.

Northampton, though, have won three of their last four away games, including a critical victory at play-off rivals Exeter last month.

"We are learning all the time, and this is our third play-off in consecutive years," Saints rugby director Jim Mallinder said.

"Harlequins will quite rightly be confident because they have been the most consistent team in the league. They have won the most games by a large margin so they deserve it.

"But we will go in there and will quietly give it a go. We have a bit of momentum. Look three games back and we were struggling a little bit, but we went down to Bath and won well there.

"We then had the must-win game down at Exeter, and when we needed to we played well.

"We need to play well this weekend because Harlequins are a quality side and they are playing with confidence, but when we play at our best we are a good team."

PA

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