Sweet relief for Sarries
Sun, 06 Apr 2014 12:14
We were just lucky to get over the line
Saracens coach Mark McCall was a relieved man to leave his native Belfast with a 17-15 victory over his former team Ulster on Saturday.
It was the second season in a row that the English Premiership leaders had beaten Ulster in the quarterfinals of Europe's top tournament and McCall fully realised the result could have gone either way, even though the home side played for 75 minutes with 14 men.
"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," said the Saracens director of rugby.
"To lose a man after five minutes and not only to show the effort that they showed - which was incredible - but to be as tactically astute and smart as they were, was a brilliant achievement.
"The thing that 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. A lot of our players had never faced something as hostile as that Ravenhill crowd.
"We were comfortable defensively, we weren't under that much pressure, we were up three tries to nil, but we kept on giving them shots at goal and they chipped away at us. Whilst we did a lot of good things in the game we are just grateful to get through to the next stage."
Saracens' reward for winning away from home is a 'home' semifinal at Twickenham Stadium against ASM Clermont Auvergne, who made Leicester Tigers their 75th succesisve home 'scalp' earlier in the day.
Clermont beat Saracens in the quarterfinals at Vicarage Road two years ago.
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