Glasgow Warriors can use Scotland’s Twickenham heroics for inspiration against Saracens in Champions Cup quarter-final
Glasgow may not have beaten Saracens in Europe in five attempts but the Scottish side can take solace from their national team’s historic clash against England just two weeks ago as they prepare for this weekend’s Champions Cup quarter-final.
Scotland were down and out after half an hour at Twickenham, with England 31-0 up, only to come back and take a 38-31 lead before ultimately drawing 38-38 and retaining the Calcutta Cup in a frantic finale.
Some of the key men involved in what was the highest scoring draw in international history are due to line up against each other again on Saturday and the Warriors will hope to cause their opponents similar problems to those which unravelled England that day.
Read more: England fall flat in dramatic Six Nations finale against Scotland
Saracens, who had six players involved in that contest, are set to welcome back England stars Owen Farrell and George Kruis to the squad after they were rested for last week’s 27-20 Premiership win over Harlequins.
They will rejoin Jamie George, Billy Vunipola and Ben Spencer along with Scotland’s Sean Maitland, while Maro Itoje, who missed most of the Six Nations with injury, is also set to return.
Lining up against them once again will be scrum-half Ali Price and centre Sam Johnson, both of whom were integral to Scotland’s comeback on that blustery day in London, along with Nick Grigg, while internationals Stuart Hogg and George Horne also return from injury.
“When you are playing against so many international players, you not only have to starve them of the ball but play well with it,” said Glasgow co-captain Callum Gibbins. “The Scotland side is very fit and so are we. It is something we work hard on and we know if we hold on to the ball we can come through.”
While Scotland’s near-heroic efforts will inspire the Warriors, they have yet to beat Saracens in the Champions Cup and lost twice when they met during the pool stage this season.
Sarries won 13-3 away and 38-19 at home on their way to six straight wins and claiming top seeding for the last eight, where they were drawn against the bottom seed, Glasgow.
It means Saracens, the only English side left in the competition, have the advantage of playing at home, where they have not tasted defeat for 13 months despite a run of four losses away.
While players from England and Scotland prepare to face off, there will be a notable lack of representation from Grand Slam winners Wales.
Saracens full-back Liam Williams filled the shoes of Leigh Halfpenny admirably throughout the Six Nations, but he is the only Welsh international left in the tournament.
Read more: Ollie Phillips: Wales Grand Slam down to impeccable leadership
The majority of Warren Gatland’s squad play in the Pro14 for either Scarlets or Ospreys but, after both were knocked out at the pool stage, they are clearly missing the magic touch that the New Zealander provides.
By contrast, Ireland may have fallen flat during the Six Nations but they have three sides left in the competition as Ulster face Leinster, while Munster travel to Edinburgh.