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Andy Goode Column: Leicester Will Look To Counter Attack Against Saracens But Will Ultimately Fall Short

Saracens v Leicester Tigers - Aviva Premiership

Saracens and Exeter should make it through to the final.

What is amazing about the semi final between the Leicester Tigers and Saracens, is that the Tigers have qualified for the previous twelve semi finals and Saracens the last seven.

So we have two teams who know exactly how get to this stage of the season and go one step further. But Sarries hold most of the advantages.

The last time these sides met at Allianz Park, Sarries overpowered the Tigers, particularly at scrum time. This time, Richard Cockerill has selected a counter attacking side, filled with pace across the back line.

Sarries like to kick the ball a lot, so Leicester will be wanting Telusa Veainu and Vereniki Goneva to run the ball back. Their half backs will also be looking to move the ball into the hands of Manu Tuilagi in midfield, and hope to create space for Peter Betham in the 13 jersey.

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - JANUARY 16: Manu Tuilagi of Leicester Tigers in action during the European Rugby Champions Cup match between Leicester Tigers and Benetton Treviso at Welford Road on January 16, 2016 in Leicester, England. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Yet I can’t see Leicester winning at Allianz Park, a ground in which they have never won. The Tigers have made great strides this year, Aaron Mauger in particular has had a massive impact, and they now play a wider more expansive game.

They have some quality players, but are not in a position to challenge Sarries just yet. Maybe next season when Matt Toomua and JP Pietersen arrive they will have the extra flair to challenge for a place in the final.

For now, Saracens’ power, ball carrying game and defence should win them a place in the final.

The second semi final is a really interesting game, as the Exeter Chiefs and Wasps have already met on three occasions this season.

Not only have the Chiefs won two of the three fixtures between the sides this season, but Wasps have never won in Sandy Park.

EXETER, ENGLAND - JANUARY 03: Jack Nowell of Exeter Chiefs dives over for his side's first try during the Aviva Premiership match between Exeter Chiefs and Gloucester Rugby at Sandy Park on January 3, 2015 in Exeter, England. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

The Chiefs also hold a psychological advantage, after easily defeating Wasps 24-3 at the beginning of the month, despite narrowly losing the Champions Cup quarter final.

Although there has been much talked about Wasps and the players they have in the back line, there are a lot of unsung heroes at Exeter. Players like Ollie Woodburn and Ian Whitten don’t receive the credit that Gareth Steenson gets.

So Wasps have to go play a team that is not only full of confidence, but play at their own pace. Exeter also like to surprise teams with a few moves no one has seen before in big games.

As much as I would like to see Wasps get to the final, Exeter are favourites to prevail.

Andy Goode, Pundit Arena
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Author: The PA Team

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