Friday 30 September 2016

McCall salutes Saracens' forward charge

Saracens 24-7 Wasps

Andrew Baldock

Published 24/04/2016 | 02:30

Saracens players Owen Farrell, Alex Goode and Duncan Taylor of Saracens celebrate at the final whistle Photo: Reuters / Henry Browne
Saracens players Owen Farrell, Alex Goode and Duncan Taylor of Saracens celebrate at the final whistle Photo: Reuters / Henry Browne
Saracens' Owen Farrell kicks a penalty Photo: David Davies/PA Wire
Ashley Johnson of Wasps scores their second try despite the efforts of Owen Farrell of Saracens Photo: Reuters / Henry Browne

Brad Barritt admits it will be "the icing on the cake" if Saracens are crowned European champions this season next month.

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It will be Saracens' second European final appearance in three seasons, but England international centre Barritt has no doubt that his team will remain grounded during the build-up.

"In terms of frustrations in the past, by no means have we won anything yet," Saracens skipper Barritt said. "There is still this hunger and desire within this team. We now have a final to look forward to.

"The pleasing thing with this team is the resilience . . . We know that every team is going to have their 'golden moment' in a game, and it's about staying focused for your next task. That's what we did - we applied the pressure.

"The hugely pleasing thing about this team is that there are on-field generals across the pitch. There are guys who are leading in their own departments and are making a stand and helping and coaching each other off the ball. The resilience within the squad is huge.

"It (winning the European Champions Cup) has been a driving force for us for five seasons now. We've slowly edged our way closer and closer. We've gone from qualifying to a quarter-final, two semi-finals and a final. It would be the icing on the cake to lift the trophy, but we are not there yet and we are not going to talk about it until it happens. But it's a huge driving force, and this team is very hungry."

Saracens took another giant stride towards a domestic and European double, although the Premiership leaders were tested physically by a resilient Wasps side.

Wasps led through an early Dan Robson try and substitute hooker Ashley Johnson touched down late on, with flyhalf Jimmy Gopperth kicking both conversions and a penalty - but Saracens dominated possession and territory and were worthy winners.

Flanker Michael Rhodes' first-half score, which was followed by a penalty try that Owen Farrell converted as part of a 14-point haul, proved enough.

Wasps led through an early Dan Robson try and substitute hooker Ashley Johnson touched down late on, with flyhalf Jimmy Gopperth kicking both conversions and a penalty, but Saracens dominated large chunks of possession and territory and were worthy winners.

"I thought we were brilliant today," said Saracens rugby director Mark McCall. "We were physical and intelligent in the way we played the game, but we couldn't get away on the scoreboard.

"We knew our set-piece was going to be important. Our scrum was outstanding all the way through the game, and our defensive lineout was outstanding too. It was a great effort by the forwards, but a great effort by everybody.

"There were times today when we could have got a little bit frustrated - obviously after one minute when you are seven points behind - but we felt we dominated the rest of the half."

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