Alex Goode speaks about Saracens chances against Clermont Auvergne in their Heineken Cup semi-final

Last Updated: 18/04/14 12:59pm

Mako and Billy Vunipola talk about their sibling rivalary and Saracens big Heineken Cup semi-final clash against Clermont.

Saracens fullback Alex Goode cannot remember much of their quarter-final win at Ulster after he was knocked out jumping for a high ball in the fourth minute.

Ulster fullback Jared Payne was red carded for the incident but Saracens still had to fight very hard to beat 14-man Ulster and book a semi-final against Clermont Auvergne.

“I remember bits before it but nothing about jumping up or landing,” said Goode on The Rugby Club when asked about the incident.

“I remember being booed off on the stretcher – I was thinking this isn’t right, what has happened here. But it was actually when he [Payne] was getting the red card so it was not really the crowd booing at me.

“I am still trying to pass all the tests that will allow me to play – it was a big fall but I am getting better every day. The headaches are gone and I did full training on Wednesday. I have to do a few more Tests - there our six stages but I am on the way back and would love to be back for the semi-final.”

That semi-final takes place at Twickenham on the 26th of April and Saracens should be full of confidence with their Premiership form. Will Greenwood believes that Saracens learnt their lessons from past European campaigns and have evolved their game.

“Saracens are a front foot side, they are extremely physical and in the Premiership they can dominate the gainline,” explained Greenwood on The Rugby Club.

“They have added some big lumps, they have got James Johnston; they have brought in Billy Vunipola and have got some bulk so that they can win some gainline at European level.

Ulster were forced to play most of their Heineken Cup quarter-final without Jared Payne, who was sent off in the fourth minute after a shuddering tangle wi

“But most important to me they have really developed their game. By that I mean they are going to play rugby. I felt that they were a stats side and would say that if I get the ball, the stats say that the best outcome would be to kick it.

“They are now deviating away from a really rigid plan and allowing people like Alex [Goode] to go and see what is in front of them and play. They have built their foundations and their basics, now they are taking people on ball in hand. They are empowering their players to make more decisions which gives them more of a chance to deviate from a set-plan when it doesn't go well against a big side.”

Goode agrees with Will and says the disappointed of losing in the quarter-finals in 2012 and the semis in 2013 has really helped the team to step up.

“We have changed a few things this year, every year you want to make sure that you take the next step and improve,” added Goode.

“You want to add something to your game and keep on evolving. As a group we feel that we have become stronger - we have made some good signings but as a team we have also become better and player better rugby. A lot of that goes down to Kevin Sorrell [backs coach] who has done a great job with our attack - all the coaches deserve praise, they never stand still and always push us. All the players are really hungry to do better after last year.”

Alarm bells?

Clermont are a huge challenge for Sarries and Greenwood says that the likes of Aurélien Rougerie and Napolioni Nalaga will test even Saracens' renowned defence.

“Where Saracens will be disappointed against Ulster is that they did not take as many of the chances as they felt that they created. It was not the greatest performance for Sarries however they are in the semis. They know that against Clermont that if they drop off a fraction then Clermont will do them. Saracens defence is something they can always cling too, there have been a few leaks in Europe and when you have the quality of a Rougerie and Nalaga then you have to be wary!”

Good agrees that they will need to step it up once against Clermont but says there is one man who could cause them more problems than most.

“First and foremost as Will says we pride ourselves on our defence," he said. "I think every team that comes up against us knows that we are physical and that we get off the line to make it difficult for teams.

"The key is will Sitiveni Sivivatu be playing for them? He makes a big difference to Clermont, he does not stay on his wing but floats around the place. He is the  one that would cause us more problems and we would really have to watch him. Nalaga is Nalaga and you have to put your tin hat on and go very low and just hold on!”

Catch the Heineken Cup sem-finals only on Sky Sports. Clicke here for details