Hostility may help England

THERE’S been a lot of talk about the hostile atmosphere awaiting England at Murrayfield on Saturday, but I think playing away from Twickenham will actually help Martin Johnson’s men this weekend.

Against the Irish a fortnight ago, the Twickenham crowd expected England to run and kick everything and that put them off their stride somewhat.

This week, in Edinburgh, the pressure in that respect will be lifted off England and that could allow them to play their own game more comfortably. Man for man, England are a far superior side to Scotland, although the Scots are capable of raising their game, especially against England.

But if England are on their game then I really can’t see the Scots causing them many problems.

Ireland, meanwhile, will be a little worried about the visit of Wales to Croke Park this weekend. The Welsh keep and run the ball very well and have a point to prove after defeats to England and France, but I expect the Irish defence to be just too good for them.

France are all but certain to continue their winning ways on Sunday when Italy make the trip to Paris. I expect the French to play in the right way, not just chucking the ball around, and I think their expansive game will be just too hot to handle.

While the French and Italians do battle across the Channel, we, at Saracens, have our own big game to overcome as we take on Northampton Saints in the semi-final of the LV Cup.

The disappointing defeat at Leeds last weekend was our fifth in sixth games and we are desperate to get the show on the road at Franklin’s Gardens and get a win under our belts.

It’s not often this season we have been labelled as clear underdogs, but we don’t mind that tag at all and we’ll be going there on Sunday with something to prove.
Brendan Venter is head coach of Saracens. For box office call 0844 847 2482.