O'Shea tips Sarries for the title
May 7, 2011
Schalk Brits manages to offload under pressure during Saturday's game at the Stoop © Getty Images
Harlequins boss Conor O'Shea believes Saracens are the "absolute favourites" to win this season's Aviva Premiership after watching them claim a 16-13 victory over his side at the Stoop on Saturday.
Sarries' victory was their 11th in succession and it was achieved courtesy of a virtuoso display from fly-half Owen Farrell, who scored a try, a conversion and a penalty, and six points from the boot of fullback Alex Goode. They will now face Gloucester in the play-off semi-finals next weekend and O'Shea believes that not only will Sarries beat the Cherry and Whites, they will go on to claim the title.
"Mentally, they are the toughest side in the Premiership, they know their roles and stick to that pattern and I make them absolute favourites to win the Premiership," he said. "I know Leicester, Gloucester and Northampton will have something to say about that but there is just something about Saracens that makes you think they will go that extra yard this year. They are right up there now and they have earned that right."
Turning his attention to his own side, O'Shea was disappointed that his side had ended up finishing seventh, meaning they must now beat Stade Francais in the Amlin Challenge Cup final or rely on Northampton lifting the Heineken Cup if they are to secure a place in the latter competition for next season.
"We are disappointed sitting here today, we lost a game of rugby we went to win but we are so positive with what we have done this season. We are looking to win a European trophy," said O'Shea. "Everybody knows it will be a tight game with us in it, that is proven. From 35 games we have either won or been within a score in 32 of them. We will have our full strength side out on the pitch (against Stade) and I am really excited."
Meanwhile, Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall was full of praise for his players after a fine regular season campaign, although he did concede that he would have liked to have pipped Leicester to top spot.
"It would have been a nice thing to be first past the post but I also think that winning 18 games out of 22 is one heck of an achievement," he said. "It is all about next week now and Gloucester will be a tough match. Gloucester are one of the most dangerous attacking teams in the Premiership. We have got to be way better next week."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The Scotland coach enters his first Six Nations with at least one familiar face to look to for inspiration - Joe Schmidt. He chats to Tom Hamilton
Italy coach Jacques Brunel spoke to ESPN ahead of his final season as Italy coach and tells of his desire to experiment and evolve
"There's no bull with me, I just tell it straight." Tom Hamilton talks to Warren Gatland in an exclusive interview
With the retirement of Adam Jones, Welsh rugby says goodbye to a great player and one of its biggest personalities too, writes Tom Hamilton