The first Champions Cup semi-final offers a mouth-watering clash in the fly-half channel. As accomplished as he has shown himself to be in the number 10 jersey, Alex Goode faces a stern task tomorrow when he shares a rugby field with Racing’s Finn Russell.
Goode, with his wide stride and eye for the gap, has delighted Saracens teammates and fans for the past twelve seasons. His quality was clear for all to see when he seamlessly filled the boots of the suspended Owen Farrell in the quarter-finals against the hitherto unbeaten Leinster. Cool, calm and collected, Goode delivered the goods in typical fashion; punishing the Irishmen’s ill-discipline with the boot while stoking the fire of his backline.
His opponent for Saturday, Scotland international Finn Russell, has cultivated a reputation for himself over the years as one of the most enigmatic attacking talents of the modern game with his silky handling skills, educated boot, pace and enterprising rugby brain.
Russell was his usual self in the quarters as Racing downed Clermont 36-27 at Stade Marcel Michelin..
The two stand-offs are not dissimilar in their all-round play; both exhibit a penchant for pin-point accuracy [and timing] in the pass, if a gap is there, they’ll be through it, and their use of the boot yields far more positive results than negative.
Goode has a few years on Russell, the former being 32 and the latter being just 27, but what he may has lost in pace he makes up for with experience.
The forward battle will, of course, have a significant bearing on how much the number 10s are allowed to do and a fierce battle is on the cards up front. What should be exciting to the fans, however, is that both Goode and Russell, on their day, are more than capable of creating a bit of magic of their own – the individuality of one of these men could very mean a spot in the final for either Saracens or Racing.