Rugby Union Champions Cup 2017 Semi-Final Preview

Rugby Union
Updated Sunday 23rd April 2017, 07:01 PM

The Champions Cup semi-finals this weekend see Munster host Saracens at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin, with Clermont Auvergne and Leinster then locking horns at Lyon’s Stade Gerland. All four teams will be hoping to reach the final at Murrayfield on 13th May.

How the Bookies See it:

  • Munster v Saracens: Saracens 8/13, Munster 11/8, Draw 20/1 – Paddy Power
  • Clermont Auvergne v Leinster: Clermont Auvergne 4/6, Leinster 6/5, Draw 20/1 - Coral

Form

Munster, one of two Irish teams in the last four, have held the European trophy aloft on two previous occasions. They’ve won their past five games in all competitions, including a 41-16 victory over Toulouse in the quarter-finals at Thomond Park. Mark McCall’s Saracens – the reigning Aviva Premiership and Champions Cup holders - have won four of their last five games in all competitions, beating Glasgow Warriors 38-13 at Allianz Park to reach the semi-finals.

Clermont Auvergne emerged 29-9 winners over three-time winners Toulon in the previous round, but have lost away to Racing 92 and at home to Brive in the Top 14 in two of their last five games. Three-time winners Leinster go into this weekend off the back of five straight victories, including an impressive 32-17 victory over Wasps in the quarter-finals at the Aviva Stadium.

Sports.net’s View

Only 15 of the 42 semi-finals have been won by the away team in the history of the European Cup, a win rate of 35.71%. This means home advantage could be a deciding factor, so both Munster and Clermont Auvergne should be slight favourites given they’re playing in front of their own supporters.  

Victory in Dublin for Rassie Erasmus’ side would take the Munsterman into their first European final for nine years, and they’re 6/4 with Ladbrokes to do so. Major doubts remain over the fitness of scrum-half Conor Murray – called up to the 2017 British and Irish Lions squad this week – but CJ Stander, Donncha Ryan and Tyler Blyendaal should all be available for selection following injury concerns. Given they’re playing in Ireland, Munster to win by 1-10 points at 13/5 with Coral is a tempting bet, or they’re 11/2 with Paddy Power to win by 1-5 points.

Saracens go into Saturday unbeaten in 16 games in the Champions Cup, and are expected to recall Maro Itoje, Owen Farrell, Richard Wigglesworth and others after they were rested in the recent Aviva Premiership victory over Northampton. Current title holders after their 21-9 victory over Racing 92 in last season’s final, the North London-based outfit are 8/11 odds-on with BetVictor to score the game’s first try, and 6/4 with Boylesports to score first and win.

For Clermont Auvergne, French backs Wesley Fofana and Noa Nakataci are both unavailable for selection. The twice-beaten finalists have never held the European trophy aloft, and are 15/2 with William Hill to beat Leinster by 11-15 points and reach their third final. They’re priced 9/4 with Paddy Power to win both halves in Lyon, and are 8/11 odds on with Betfred to open the scoring.

Leinster, leading try scorers in this year’s tournament with 35, are without Jamie Heaslip and Rob and Dave Kearney through injury, but coach Leo Cullen is expected to name key man Jonny Sexton at fly-half. 9/4 Half Time/Full Time odds with Bet365, punters can also get 11/8 odds with William Hill for the Irish outfit to be the first side to reach 10 points.

  • Sports.net’s Top Tips: Saracens to win by 1-10 points at 21/10 with Coral and Draw/Clermont Auvergne in the Half Time/Full Time market at 20/1 with Bet365

Please note that odds may fluctuate in the run up to kick off.


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Last Updated: Sunday, 23 April 2017 07:01:49+00:00
Published By Sports.net

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