Beaten English readjust targets

SARACENS boss Mark McCall has backed his team to bounce back from European disappointment and focus on their Aviva Premiership title defence, starting this weekend at London Irish.

Defeat against Harlequins at Wembley 10 days ago followed by a 22-3 Heineken Cup exit to Clermont Auvergne on Easter Sunday leaves the domestic champions with just two wins from their last six games.

With Leicester Tigers breathing down their necks in the Aviva Premiership, suddenly Saracens’ presence in the 26 May final appears in serious doubt, but McCall insists there is no cause for panic.

“We came up against an outstanding team who were very motivated,” said McCall, whose side’s only points came from Owen Farrell.

“They had several quarter-final losses before this and you could see how much it meant to them. This is definitely a level up and you have to experience a Heineken Cup quarter-final to realise that.”

Harlequins’ thoughts now turn to Saturday’s clash with Wasps on their route to Twickenham for the Aviva Premiership final, after a Jonny Wilkinson-inspired Toulon condemned them to elimination from the Amlin Challenge Cup, 37-8.

Quins were firmly upstaged by Wilkinson, who kicked 17 faultless points in just 42 minutes, and Toulon in the south of France, with former London Irish flanker Steffon Armitage also crossing.

London Wasps were also knocked out by French opponents, losing 26-23 to Biarritz, while Exeter went down 22-17 at Stade Francais.

If you buy a ticket for this year’s Aviva Premiership Final on 26 May you will receive a free rugby shirt. Go to www.premiershiprugby.com/freeshirt to buy yours

EUROPEAN SEMI-FINALS
Heineken Cup
Ulster v Edinburgh, Sat 28 April

Clermont Auvergne v Leinster, Sun 29 April

Amlin Challenge Cup
Toulon v Paris, Fri 27 April

Biarritz v Brive, Sat 28 April