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HEAD-TO-HEAD: Ulster v Saracens

Ulster's John Afoa is tackled by Saracens' Brad Barritt and Owen Farrell

Ulster's John Afoa is tackled by Saracens' Brad Barritt and Owen Farrell

  • by Ciaran Donaghy
 

News Letter correspondent, Ciaran Donaghy looks at some of the big battles when Ulster and Saracens meet in the Heineken Cup quarter-final at Ravenhill on Saturday.

John Afoa v Mako Vunipola

John Afoa is one of the best tight head props in world rugby, a world cup winner in 2011 with the All Blacks he is the rock of which the Ulster scrum is built.

He is technically prefect at the set piece and combines his strong scrummaging with dynamics in the loose and has popped up with the two tries in Europe this season.

Mako Vunipola son of former Tongan captain Fe’ao Vunipola and Methodist Minister Rev Iesinga Vunipola has enjoyed a motoric rise through the rugby ranks.

He signed for Saracens from Bristol in 2011 and quickly established himself at club and international level.

He played in all three Lions test last summer and like Afoa is a strong scrummager and wreaks havoc in the loose.

Johann Muller v Steve Borthwick

Muller is Ulster’s inspirational leader and is desperate to lead the province to silverware before he hangs the boots up at the end of the season.

A world cup winner with the Springboks in 1997 Muller s Ulster’s lineout technician and calls a lot of the ball to himself, regularly tops the tackle count as he puts his body on the line in defence.

Borthwick began his Premiership career in 1998 with Bath and spent 10 years at the Rec before moving to Saracens.

He has won 57 caps for England and has captained his county as well as club.

He brings the same attributes as Muller, a serious student of the lineout he watches hours of videos studying the opposition set piece, also gets around in the loose.

Tommy Bowe v David Strettle

A grand slam winner in 2009 and a twice Lions tourist Bowe has never been beyond the quarter final stages in the Heineken Cup.

Injury ruled him out of the Ireland successful Six Nations campaign but returned with three tries in four games.

A strong powerful runner with a deceptive burst of speed Bowe is a natural finisher and has scored 24 tries in 54 Heineken Cup appearances

Strettle was a talented soccer player being on the books of Liverpool and Man City as as youngster.

He played at Rotherham under former Ballymena and Belfast Harlequins coach Andre Bester before signing for London Harlequins.

He moved across London in 2010 to join Saracens and has bagged 29 tries for the club.

He has represent England 14 times scoring twice and has lighting pace.

 

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