Graham lays down gauntlet to Sarries
March 17, 2007
Saracens coach Richard Graham admits his side are masters of their own destiny as they seek to clinch a place in the Guinness Premiership play-offs.
Alan Gaffney's team face fellow top-four contenders Bristol at Vicarage Road tomorrow knowing victory could thrust them straight back into the reckoning with four matches remaining.
``There is a lot left to play for this season and we've put ourselves in a position where we can push for the top four in the Guinness Premiership,'' said Graham.
``We've got a proud home and away record over the course of the season, but now it's all about focusing on the remaining five games.
``Importantly for us, we've still got to play three teams in Bristol, London Irish and Wasps who are either just above or below us in the league so at least there we can control our own destiny.
``We know we will have a tough game against Bristol. They have performed well all season and have a very experienced forward pack.
``They also have a good fly-half in Jason Strange to guide them around the pitch.
``It will be a good test to see where we are, what reaction we will get from the players after the defeat at Newcastle and also, a strong indication of where we may finish at the end of the season.
``It's a very important game for us.''
French full-back Thomas Castaignede returns to the Saracens starting line-up after making a substitute appearance against Newcastle last weekend.
Richard Hill, Neil de Kock, Kevin Yates and Iain Fullarton are also restored to the side while Cencus Johnston replaces the injured Cobus Visagie at tighthead.
Wasps director of rugby Ian McGeechan is expecting tomorrow's St Patrick's Day showdown with London Irish at the Madejski Stadium to be a memorable occasion.
Irish have sold 22,000 tickets for the match and McGeechan is looking for his side to build on last weekend's 23-16 victory at Harlequins.
``There is going to be a fabulous atmosphere for the game and against a side of London Irish's quality we are going to have to turn in a very good performance,'' he said.
``I was very pleased with our second-half performance last week, which I thought was outstanding, and we are going to need to repeat that if we are to come away with points from the Madejski on Sunday.''
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