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Saturday 10 December 2016

Racing need Sexton at his best to halt Saracens

Jon Sexton
Jon Sexton

Should Leinster's involvement in The Champions Cup come to a shuddering end, the main Irish focus will move to Jonathan Sexton's Racing Metro and their tie against Saracens at Stade Yves-Du-Manoir on Sunday (KO 12.45 Irish time, BT Sport).

It would seem, from afar, the import of Sexton (above) and the influence of assistant coa ch Ronan O'Gara, two men steeped in this competition, has brought increased urgency and intensity.

The club hierarchy must be disappointed at how their Welsh contingent has taken such a laissez-faire approach, as always, saving their deeper reserves of energy for the Six Nations.

muscle

Saracens will take their effective combination of South African muscle and Anglo-Saxon application to war in a contest they can claim.

The most appealing of the quarter-finals is between power-packed Clermont-Auvergne and Northampton Saints at Stade Marcel Michelin tomorrow (KO 5.45 Irish time, Sky Sports 2).

Jim Mallinder's crew are a belligerent lot even away from Franklins Gardens as they showed at The Aviva last season and The Ospreys this term.

The Premiership pace-setters are well clear in the League and they will travel with confidence, even without George North.

They have developed a Plan-B under the influence of Joe Schmidt's protege Alex King as the backs coach returns to the club where the former England fly-half learned his trade.

Holders Racing Toulon should have too many guns for Wasps at the raucous Stade Felix Mayol on Sunday (KO 3.15 Irish time, Sky Sports 2).

The French club is daring to go where none have gone before it in completing a hat-trick of titles with a galaxy of world-class stars against the Wasps solid set-piece and dangerous strike runners, like Joe Simpson and Christian Wade.

champions cup

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