Storming Saracens line up Ospreys at European Champions Cup

Paris (AFP) - Defending two-time champions Saracens will bid to build on their impressive opening statement of intent with victory over the stuttering Ospreys in the European Champions Cup this weekend.

Saracens, with England international Owen Farrell to the fore, opened this season's account by smashing Premiership rivals Northampton 57-13, while Pool 2's other game saw Ospreys narrowly go down to last year's beaten finalists Clermont, 26-21.

Alex Lozowski, fresh from signing a new contract that will keep him at Saracens until 2020, said the north London club would look to take control of the group.

"It's a competition that we know is really tough," the utility back said.

"So, I suppose now it's about backing it up this weekend against Ospreys.

"They are a very strong team, they've got some quality individual players who we are going to have to be aware of.

"Everyone's just excited about getting back at home, in front of our home fans, and hopefully putting ourselves in a really strong position in the group."

Wales flanker Justin Tipuric acknowledged that the Ospreys would have to turn up for the full 80 minutes against Sarries.

"It doesn't get any easier, coming up against the best team in Europe with some of the best players in the world," said Tipuric, whose Ospreys side have notched up just one win in their opening six Pro 14 games.

"No one even thinks we've even got a chance of winning so there's no pressure on us. We've got to go out there, throw the ball around and see what we come away with."

Against Clermont "we had a frustrating first 10 minutes that put us under pressure".

"We were always trying to catch up and we could have probably nicked it at the end but unfortunately didn't get that win that we're after."

Tipuric insisted: "Things are getting better. It's not a nice place to be where we're not used to losing like we are, but hopefully, you never know, one win will turn all that around."

Clermont host the chastened Saints on Saturday, with scrum-half Morgan Parra warning of a different side.

"We're expecting a huge match," the France international said. "When you concede 50 points at home, you know how you approach things the following week: with a lot of bite."

Arguably the performance of last week's opening round was La Rochelle's 34-27 victory at Harlequins.

Given that only the pool toppers and three best finishing second-placed teams advance to the knockout phase of European club rugby's showpiece tournament, wins on the road are like gold dust and La Rochelle's maiden outing was the perfect tonic.

Ulster pipped misfiring Wasps last week and make the trip to western France on Sunday, where the Marcel Deflandre stadium is a 16,000 sell-out.

"In the first half we played some very good rugby. We made it a little difficult for ourselves in the second half especially in the last 20 minutes," La Rochelle fly-half Ryan Lamb said of the win over Harlequins.

"It's great to be part of the history of this club and play in the first game of the Champions Cup.

"Obviously to go to England and come back with five points is a very nice feeling."

Wasps entertain Harlequins in Pool 1's other match, while Pool 3 sees Glasgow play Leinster and Exeter make the trip to Montpellier.

Leicester host Castres and Racing 92 are away at Munster in Pool 4, while Scarlets look to bounce back from a quick turnaround at home to Bath on Friday, Pool 5's whipping boys Treviso take on Toulon.