| 5.5°C Dublin

Connacht tie 'huge' for Sarries – McCall

SARACENS will qualify for the Heineken Cup quarter-finals if they beat Connacht this Saturday – but a prized home tie looks to have eluded them.

The Premiership leaders must keep their side of the bargain, then hope that Italian minnows Zebre pull off a monumental shock by defeating four-time European champions Toulouse.

Saracens look set to fill one of the two best runners-up spots, though, and it is possible they could face a return trip to Toulouse in the last eight.

A 21-11 defeat against Toulouse at Stade Ernest-Wallon put the French side firmly in control of Pool 3.

"Your set-piece has to be good to gain momentum, and although our scrum was good our line-out didn't function," Saracens rugby director Mark McCall said.

"But it has happened and we have six days to turn things around for Connacht, which is a huge game.


"If we can win that game we get the chance to go somewhere else in the quarter-finals and prove we are better than we were (on Sunday).

"Obviously, we are very disappointed. We just don't think that we gave the best account of ourselves."

Northampton's hopes of increasing the English quarter-final contingent – Leicester are already through – appear remote despite their 29-17 Liberty Stadium victory over Pool 1 hosts Ospreys.

The Saints need a bonus point win against visitors Castres on Friday night, and have to hope that group leaders Leinster collect nothing from a Dublin appointment with Ospreys.

Northampton could still progress as one of two best runners-up if they topple Castres, but that is an improbable scenario, given the remaining fixtures in other groups.

"From our point of view, we've got one game left and we are going to go flat out and try to get five points," said Saints' Wales wing George North, who claimed a 70-metre breakaway try and was joined on the scoresheet by George Pisi and Glenn Dickson.

"It has been a tough group for us to get back into after a couple of early losses, and it is now win or nothing for us against Castres. We've still got a chance of making it, and we will go until the end."