Friday 23 February 2018

Disappointed O'Gara admits Carter gamble backfired

Saracens 21 Racing92 9

Ronan O’Gara chats with Dan Carter after Racing 92’s defeat to Saracens Photo: Getty
Ronan O’Gara chats with Dan Carter after Racing 92’s defeat to Saracens Photo: Getty
Saracens' Owen Farrell scores a penalty, one of seven he scored this game. Photo: PA
Racing 92's Dan Carter (right) attempts to tackle Saracens' Michael Rhodes. Photo: PA
(left to right) Saracens' Duncan Taylor, Michael Rhodes, Jamie George, Chris Wyles and Jackson Wray celebrate winning the European Champions Cup. Photo: PA

John Fallon

Ronan O'Gara is hoping that the pain he went through as a player before winning the European Cup is not going to be repeated in his coaching career.

O'Gara lost two Heineken Cup finals before winning the crown in 2006 and 2008.

But his maiden final as a coach ended in disappointment at Grand Stade de Lyon on Saturday when they were out-gunned by the boot of England out-half Owen Farrell.

Assistant coach O'Gara said he hopes he doesn't have to go through the disappointment all over again before winning it.

"That took us six years, I don't want that pain again. It's sickening for the first few hours," said O'Gara.

"But the better team won. It's easy to move on. It's bitterly disappointing. Finals are all about winning and the winner takes it all. They were better than us in all of the departments to be honest.

"We could have snuck it, and that's testament to the character we now have in our group. But the better team won."

O'Gara said Dan Carter's injury was a massive blow to their prospects, with the double World Cup winner limping off early in the second half after carrying an injury into Racing's first final.

"It was a big risk in terms of whether he would play or not. I think he was struggling with his calves. But with a guy with that presence, even at 50-60 per cent, you want to give him every opportunity," added O'Gara.

"But the ball was very greasy, he had one or two errors, and it just shows that it's not easy when you are pre-occupied with an injury. But I think it's only a few weeks and he will come back.

"And we still have the Top 14 campaign to focus on."

Farrell kicked seven penalties from seven attempts as Saracens, ahead 12-6 at the end of a dour opening half, captured their first European Cup crown.

And coach Mark McCall, joint captain when Ulster won this competition in 1999, made it clear afterwards that he sees this success as the start and not the end of a journey for the big-spending London club.

"I said during the week, the best of this team is yet to come. It is very young, very experienced, but very young. And we have got a very hungry, very motivated group of players and hopefully in the future there will be more days like this."

Saracens: A Goode; C Ashton, D Taylor (M Bosch 77), B Barritt, C Wyles; O Farrell (C Hodgson 79), R Wigglesworth (B Spencer 79); M Vunipola (R Barrington 77), S Brits (J George 23-31, 52), P Du Plessis (J Figallo 68); M Itoje (J Hamilton 79), G Kruis; M Rhodes (J Wray 55), W Fraser, B Vunipola.
Racing 92: B Dulin; J Rokocoko, J Goosen, A Dumoulin (H Chavancy 57), J Imhoff; D Carter (R Tales 43), M Machenaud (M Phillips 22); E Ben Arous, D Szarzewski (V Lacombe 66), B Tameifuna (L Ducalcon 68); L Charteris, F Van der Merwe (M Carizza 66); W Lauret, B Le Roux (A Claassen 77), C Masoe.
Referee: N Owens (Wales).

Irish Independent

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