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Saracens hold firm at Ulster to keep Heineken Cup dream alive

| 07.04.2014

Saracens held on for a hard fought victory against Ulster to book a place in the Heineken Cup semi-finals for the second consecutive season.

Mark McCall’s side ran in three tries through Mouritz Botha and a Chris Ashton double before holding off a spirited Ulster challenge in front of a raucous Ravenhill crowd to reach the last four.

Sarries are now flying the flag for England in Europe and are 4/1 with Ladbrokes to win a first Heineken Cup.

They will now face Leicester’s conquerors Clermont Auvergne at Twickenham for a place in the final.

The Tigers came as close as anybody to ending Clermont’s incredible home record at Stade Marcin de Michelin with a brave display in France.

Last year’s runners-up, who are 15/8 to go one better this year, had not been beaten at home since 2009 – an incredible 74 matches – but Leicester were the dominant side for long periods of their quarter-final.

The English side’s performance will have given Saracens plenty of encouragement before they face the Top 14 side at the end of the month.

Munster saw off four-time champions Toulouse with relative ease at Thomond Park but are still ranked as the 9/2 outsiders for glory with Ladbrokes.

The Red Army are now bidding to win their third Heineken Cup and first since 2008 after reaching their 11th semi-final in the competition.

But standing in their way are the reigning champions Toulon after they scuppered the potential all-Irish semi-final after sweeping aside Leinster.

The French side are the 13/8 favourites to retain their crown after proving too strong for their Irish opponents and will face Munster in Marseilles for a place in the final.

They may have to do so without former England international Johnny Wilkinson after he was injured midway through the first-half at the Stade Felix Mayol.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Oliver Yew