Sarries ordered to sharpen up for Saints clash
SARACENS director of rugby Mark McCall admits his side must work on their frailties ahead of next Sunday’s crunch Aviva Premiership clash with Northampton Saints after riding their luck against 14-man Ulster in the Heineken Cup quarter-final.
Sarries booked their place in the last-four – where they will play Clermont Auvergne at Twickenham – but only after holding off a ferocious Ulster rally by 17-15 at Ravenhill.
Jared Payne was shown a red card with just five minutes gone following a dangerous tackle on Alex Goode, who was stretchered off the field.
McCall’s men took full advantage with two tries from Chris Ashton and a further score from Mouritz Botha. Ulster half-backs Ruan Pienaar and Paddy Jackson struck five penalties between them to cause a late scare.
And McCall believes his side need to sharpen up on their discipline ahead of next weekend’s visit of second-placed Saints.
“We were just lucky to get over the line at the end. I think Ulster deserve an unbelievable amount of credit for what happened out there,” he said.
“The thing we are most disappointed in is at times we played some good rugby and at times our effort and our physicality was outstanding but we kept on undoing a lot of good work with some unbelievable indiscipline. We gave away too many penalties and gave them field position for free.
“We kept them in the game, kept the crowd in the game and we were fortunate to get away with the win.”
London Wasps will be part of an all-English last four in the Amlin Challenge Cup after beating Gloucester Rugby 36-24 on Sunday.
An outstanding performance from their back row, led by James Haskell and man of the match Nathan Hughes, set up a semi-final with Bath.
But first, Wasps look forward to “the Stinger” at Twickenham against Gloucester Rugby on Easter Saturday after a trip to reigning Aviva Premiership champions Leicester Tigers this weekend.
Harlequins also kept up their European charge with a convincing 29-6 victory over Stade Francais in the Amlin Challenge Cup on Friday.
Conor O’Shea’s men will play Saints at Franklin’s Gardens in the Challenge Cup semi-finals.
Every match in the Aviva Premiership Rugby season is crucial. To be there to support your team buy your ticket from premiershiprugby.com/tickets