Sarries savour place in semis
April 24, 2011
David Strettle is raised aloft by his team-mates as they celebrate victory over Gloucester © PA Photos
Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall hailed his team's emphatic victory over Gloucester as a major improvement on their performance in winning at Exeter last weekend.
But McCall warned that if, as expected, Gloucester return to Vicarage Road on May 15 for the Aviva Premiership play-off semi-final, Saracens will face a very different opponent to that dispatched 35-12 today.
Saracens were always the better side in the Easter sunshine and collected a four-try bonus-point win, Schalk Brits, Matt Stevens, Ernst Joubert and David Strettle touching down while Alex Goode kicked three penalties and three conversions.
McCall said: "We were very disappointed last weekend despite winning at Exeter. We talked about our performance and we were much better this week. We were more like the Saracens we want to be. All aspects of our game were good and this win was deserved.
"But if we do face Gloucester in the semi-final we know a different team will turn up, not a side who must have been affected by playing three games in eight days.
"Our next task is to prepare for our trip to Harlequins in round 22, which is in two weeks' time. It's a break and it's the way things are because next weekend we return to European rugby, so we'll train as usual and be ready for Harlequins when the time comes.
"What we will discuss in the meantime is whether to go with continuity - keep the side together - or ring the changes as someone described it. We had that dilemma at the end of last season but we have time to talk about it.
"The team performance was good, a number of individuals played well - Alex Goode, Brad Barritt, Andy Saull when he came on, and Richard Wigglesworth. It's almost unfair, however, to single people out after a fine all-round display by the squad on the day."
James Simpson-Daniel and Henry Trinder scored tries for Gloucester, the latter converted by Ryan Mills. But Gloucester head coach Bryan Redpath admitted: "We did not play well and Saracens deserved their win. But we may well have run out of steam given what we've had to handle in the past eight days.
"We conceded some poor scores and therefore did not give ourselves a real chance. But we are definitely better than that performance and now we need to achieve a five-point victory over Sale in two weeks to guarantee that we're back at Saracens in the semi-final.
"Saracens were clinical in what they did, taking their chances and protecting their possession. They showed more maturity than us on the day and we made too many mistakes, some of which proved costly.
"We never claimed to be the best team in England - we are still a notch down from the very best - but it's about learning and developing. The players have not had a week off since August 14. We always had training through the weeks all season and I cannot thank them enough for what they have done."
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