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Vunipola plays down Bath challenge

Billy Vunipola believes Saracens have already negotiated the toughest hurdle in their pursuit of the Aviva Premiership title and doubts Bath's claim they will persist with their attacking game in Saturday's final.

Vunipola regards facing down champions Northampton in last weekend's play-off at Franklin's Gardens - Saracens prevailed 29-24 - as a greater obstacle to overcome than Bath.

And the England number eight greets with scepticism the west country club's promise to dazzle Twickenham with the high-octane rugby that has served them so well this season.

"I'm not sure (if Bath are the biggest test). Northampton were probably the team to beat. They are very, very tough and they know how to play against us," Vunipola said.

"Beating Northampton was very satisfying, especially after losing to them a few times throughout the season. To do it away from home was very special as well.

"We saw at the Recreation Ground that Bath beat us at our own game (Bath won 21-11 in October). A lot of teams have changed the way they play against us.

"Bath have already come out and said they are not going to stop playing their attacking style, but I think they are lying a little bit there."

Rugby league convert Sam Burgess will line-up in Bath's back row after impressing during his conversion from centre to blindside flanker and Vunipola believes six is his more natural home.

"It's probably his best position, especially given how strong he is. He can add a different dimension with his speed and the lines he cuts," Vunipola said.

"He might think about playing in the backs because it's fancier, but he suits the forwards more. I know mauling is not the greatest thing on earth, but it's our job.

"If you compare him to Manu Tuilagi, he's got a similar frame, but isn't as quick."


From Belfast Telegraph