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Former Ulster coach Mark McCall so proud as his Saracens reach Euro decider

By Jonathan Bradley

Published 25/04/2016

Roaring success: Mako Vunipola shows his delight after Saracens are awarded a penalty try in their Champions Cup semi-final victory over Wasps
Roaring success: Mako Vunipola shows his delight after Saracens are awarded a penalty try in their Champions Cup semi-final victory over Wasps

Former Ulster head coach Mark McCall has spoken of his delight after watching his Saracens side overcome Wasps on Saturday to once again make the Champions Cup final.

McCall, who led his native province as both captain and coach, has been Director of Rugby for the north Londoners since 2011 and took them to the final of Europe's premier competition two seasons ago only to lose out to Toulon.

He will be aiming to go one better in Lyon next month after this weekend's 24-17 win over Sarries' erstwhile London rivals.

Bangor native McCall - who led Ulster to their last piece of silverware, the Celtic League in 2006 - hailed his side's resilience. He said: "I thought we were brilliant. We were physical and intelligent in the way we played the game but we couldn't get away on the scoreboard.

"We knew our set-piece was important. Our scrum was outstanding and our defensive line-out was outstanding too. It was a great effort by everybody.

"There were times when we could have got a little bit frustrated, like after one minute when you are seven points behind, but we felt we dominated the rest of the half."

The English pair, who could yet meet again in the Aviva Premiership final, drew under 17,000 fans to the Madejski Stadium but those in attendance saw Wasps take an early lead through scrum-half Dan Robson.

Saracens, who beat Ulster home and away during the pool stages, came back when Michael Rhodes charged down former Leinster out-half Jimmy Gopperth for a try and England's Owen Farrell added a trio of penalties before departing for 10 minutes after a yellow card.

Dai Young's men, who featured future Ulster ace Charles Piutau at full-back, could not take advantage and a penalty try for the English champions had them two scores ahead with less than 10 minutes remaining.

Ashley Johnson cut the lead to seven in the closing stages but the favourites held on.

Standing between McCall and European glory will be the Racing 92 side of Dan Carter.

The big-spending Parisians got the better of Leicester Tigers 19-16 yesterday at Nottingham Forest's City Ground.

Maxime Machenaud opened the scoring after two minutes with his side's only try and Carter added the conversion.

The All Black legend provided a further nine points via the boot with Johan Goosen also adding a penalty.

The final takes place at the Grand Stade de Lyon on May 14.

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