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Alex Coles calls on sold-out Gardens to play its part in Munster clash

Alex Coles believes that the Northampton Saints faithful can play a massive role in the stands in Sunday’s Investec Champions Cup clash with Munster (kick-off: 12.30pm).

A sold-out cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens will be the setting for the Round of 16 clash, that will see the men in Black, Green and Gold seek to extend their 22-week, eight-game unbeaten home run.

Victory over the Irish province would secure the home side a first Champions Cup quarter-final in four years, which would be held at the Gardens next weekend against either the Vodacom Bulls or Lyon OU.

“Thinking back to the Toulon game earlier this year, I remember people spoke about how good the crowd was for that game, and we have seen it lots of times throughout this season that the crowd has been special,” said the 6ft 9in tall forward.

“This is one of the best stadiums in the UK and one of the best sets of supporters – we really need to hear their voices at the weekend, which I am sure we will. 

”I am hoping that our performance mixed in with a loud cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens will make it tough for them [Munster].”

Alex Coles

Since reaching the final in 2011, Saints have progressed into the knock-out stages of European competition three times entering this season, and 24-year-old Coles is fully embracing the challenge ahead.

“If you look at seasons gone by, potentially we’ve not been in this situation and we have been looking at the calendar and there will be a few breaks because we were out of Europe,” added Coles.

“Now it is exciting; you are looking at the diary and you are thinking you could be playing a quarter-final next week if we get this week right.

“Everyone is really up for the challenge. That win away at Munster was most people’s stand-out memory from the season, so we want to make sure we replicate that at home. It is exciting to be in a different competition testing ourselves against the best from around the continent.”

Coles played the full 80 minutes of the pool stage victory when the sides last met in January, and admitted he has delved into footage of the 26-23 victory at Thomond Park ahead of Sunday’s rematch.

“I have personally had a look through it, for some learnings going forward,” said the England international. “But we have not watched it as a team or anything like that.

“We know what helped us go well there and what helped us win generally, and we know what that feeling is like. We are all aware of what needs to be done and how excited we are for it.”

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