Heineken Cup hopes hanging in the balance for off-colour Sarries

SARACENS director of rugby Mark McCall is eyeing victory against Connacht next weekend in order to restore his side’s reputation among Europe’s elite following yesterday’s 21-11 Heineken Cup defeat to Toulouse.

The Aviva Premiership leaders trailed 12-8 at the break as Chris Ashton’s unconverted try and an Owen Farrell penalty was trumped by four Jean-Marc Doussain penalties.

But three further penalties from the fly-half ensured the French side booked their place in the Heineken Cup quarter-finals with Sarries needing a victory next weekend to be sure of theirs as one of the best runners-up.

“Obviously we are very disappointed – we don’t think that we gave the best account of Saracens,” said McCall.

“We just couldn’t get any momentum in our play. In the first half we gave them their points cheaply. But hopefully we can do a job on Connacht next Saturday so we can get the chance to prove that we were better than we were here.”

On Saturday, London Wasps booked their place in the last eight of the Amlin Challenge Cup with a 26-13 win away to French side Bayonne.

Tries from Charlie Davies, lock Joe Launchbury and wing Tom Varndell maintained their 100 per cent record and secured their qualification as Pool 4 winners.

Meanwhile, Andrew Fenby ran in a first-half hat-trick of tries as London Irish overcame Portuguese outfit Lusitanos in Pool 5 with a dominant 79-3 victory.

The Exiles were 36-3 ahead at the break and ran in 13 tries in all, with Tom Fowlie and Guy Armitage both grabbing two, and seven conversions.

Qualification for the last eight will go down to the final round of matches, but Irish will have to hope Stade Francais Paris trip up against Lusitanos.

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